Material handling is the process of moving, protecting, storing, and controlling products and material throughout the manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, disposal, and consumption. Material handling is applied in different industries to help in forecasting, allocation of resources, production planning, inventory management and control, flow and process management, after sales support and services, and customer delivery. A company’s material handling processes are put in place for improved customer service, reduced inventory, shortened delivery time, and lowered overall costs of handling in manufacture, distribution, and transport of goods.
When it comes to the variety of material handling technologies and equipment, different industries use the following: industrial robots, integrated material handling systems, item order fulfillment systems, lift trucks, monorails and workstations cranes, overhead cranes, packaging, software, sortation, automated storage and retrieval systems, automatic identification and data collection, casters and wheels, controls, automatic guided vehicles, conveyors, protective guarding, racks, dock equipment, ergonomics, hoisting equipment, and storage. The design of a material handling system must ensure that all processes and equipment are unified with the application of different principles including planning, system, environment, automation, standardization, work, ergonomics, unit load, space utilization, and life cycle cost. When planning your material handling design, it is important to have a collaborative approach with your consultants, suppliers, and your end-users. Standardization of all material handling equipment, methods, software, and control is very important to be able to perform various tasks in different operating settings and conditions. It is best to have a simplified material handling process by combining, reducing, eliminating, or shortening unnecessary movements that can restrict productivity such as using gravity to aid movement. Safety must be emphasized when designing material handling equipment and methods, supporting the abilities of workers, and reducing repetitive and strenuous manual labor. It is important to keep your work areas organized and free of clutter, maximizing storage density without accessibility and flexibility being compromised.
There should be a well-coordinated material movement and storage from the receiving, inspection, production, storage, assembly, packaging, utilization, and order selection to transportation, shipping, and returns handling. It is also essential to consider environmental impacts and energy usage. Automated material handling technologies must be deployed as needed to improve efficiency of operations, consistency, responsiveness, and predictability. The life cycle costs of a material handling system need consideration not just the capital investment or installation but also the programming, training, maintenance and repair, system testing, operation, disposal, and reuse value. The different industries using material handling equipment and technologies include consumer goods, e-commerce, food and beverage, construction, hardware, manufacturing, materials processing, warehousing and distribution, pharmaceutical, retail, and automotive. For more information about material handling equipment and processes, feel free to check our website or homepage now!