The Fundamentals of Material Handling

Logistics Tech Outlook | Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The supply chain and logistics are supported by a variety of manual, semi-automated, and automated equipment and systems that are used in material handling.

FREMONT, CA: In order to ensure that all of the machinery and procedures—manual, semi-automated, and automated—in a facility operate as a cohesive system, it is crucial to consult best practices while developing a material handling system. A well-designed system can enhance customer service, decrease inventory, speed delivery, and lower overall handling costs in manufacturing, distribution, and transportation. This can be achieved by carefully examining the material handling goals and coordinating them with standards like the 10 Principles of Material Handling. These principles include:

Planning: Before beginning the design process, specify the requirements, strategic performance targets, and functional requirements of the proposed system and any supporting technologies. The strategy should be created in a collaborative environment with input from management, engineering, information systems, finance, and operations, as well as consultants, vendors, and end users.

Standardisation: All material handling techniques, tools, systems, and software ought to be uniform and capable of carrying out a variety of duties under various operating circumstances.

Work: To increase productivity, superfluous movement should be reduced, combined, cut short, or eliminated from material handling activities. Examples include making use of straight-line movement wherever possible and leveraging gravity to help with material movement.

Ergonomics: Work and working environments should be modified to support a worker's abilities, reduce repetitive and physically demanding manual labour, and place a priority on safety.

Unit Load: Unit loads, such as pallets, containers, or totes of products, should be used because they require less work and effort to move than many individual objects when they are moved one at a time.

Utilization of Space: Work areas should be kept tidy and organised, storage areas should be packed as densely as possible without sacrificing accessibility or flexibility, and overhead space should be used to its full potential.

System: Material movement and storage should be coordinated at every stage of the production, assembly, packaging, unitization, order selection, receiving, inspection, storage, shipping, and return handling operations.

Environment: When developing the system, energy use and any environmental impacts should be taken into account. Reusability and recycling processes should be incorporated whenever possible, and safe handling procedures should be devised for hazardous chemicals.

Automation: Automated material handling technologies should be used whenever practicable and where it makes sense to do so to increase operational efficiency, responsiveness, uniformity, and predictability.

Life cycle cost: An analysis of life cycle costs should be done for every piece of equipment provided for the system. Capital investment, installation, setup, programming, training, system testing, operation, maintenance, repair, and reuse should all be taken into account.

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