Material handling is an aspect of manufacturing that is important, but some might suggest it’s also a non-value-added activity. Due to this reason, manufacturers are usually trying to find efficient material handling systems that help reduce the time spent in handling as organizations want a process that can cut down on excess movement of goods and personnel. Therefore, by employing a more effective material handling system, productivity and profitability can be improved. Let’s look at the best practices for effective material handling derived from the principles of material handling.
Make a plan with your organizational team including the engineers, suppliers, consultants, and management. The plan should outline the material handling system keeping in mind the goals of the organization. It should include the process design, layout, and methods along with current restraints and future requirements.
Ensure that the choice of equipment, storage, and even processes is consistent without compromising on performance. Everything — including your lifting devices, cranes, shelves, and racks — should be standardized for a well-defined material handling system.
The material handling process should be simplified for maximum efficiency and productivity. Excess movement should be reduced, combined or eliminated as much as possible. This includes moving material in the shortest way between two points.
Consider ergonomics while designing your material handling system. To improve the ergonomics, you can eliminate repetitive motion, reduce manual labor and adhere to safety standards. Consider worker capabilities, limitations, and safety and eliminate strenuous work.
Unitizing means moving many items as a single load instead of separately, whenever it is possible to save time and effort. For example, try to move pallets or containers instead of singular items. This improves efficiency.
Integrate and coordinate the movement and storage of materials into each step of the manufacturing process. Consider the movement of material in the planning and systemizing process.
The layout of the workplace should be organized in such a way that it maximizes space. The work areas should be organized, de-cluttered and cleaned. Using the available space effectively is important to a successful material handling system.
Automation is the future of manufacturing. The smart factory concept embraces automation to employ its benefits for improving productivity and profitability. Automate as many processes as possible in the facility in order to improve efficiency, responsiveness, and consistency.
When implementing new material handling processes, you should try to add sustainable practices. Consider environmental impacts for each decision you make. Reuse and recycle equipment to minimize the environmental footprint of your operations. Consider storage and equipment that can be reused, recycled, and are not harmful to the environment.
When investing in material handling equipment, evaluate the costs other than the initial capital investment. These include installation, setup, programming, training, testing, repair, etc. Analyzing the cost holistically will give you a better picture of operating costs and viability of the investment.
These are the best practices for effective material handling. By planning and organizing each step of the process, you can achieve higher productivity and efficiency.