Material handling is a crucial aspect of most manufacturing and warehousing business operations. The materials handling market is expected to be worth more than $190 billion by 2024. It is growing at an increasing rate as more businesses invest in equipment to speed up the material handling process. Thus, an efficient material handling system is the key to running an operation smoothly and effectively. So let us find out how to go about improving material handling efficiency.
Have the right equipment and technology
The need for having the right equipment in the facility cannot be overemphasized. The kind of equipment that you use for various handling tasks defines the speed and efficiency at which the tasks are performed. For example, an articulating jib does the job of reaching inaccessible areas better than a forklift or manual labor. It is more productive to install one instead of having 2 workers just to perform that one task.
Using the right technology also makes a lot of difference. Installing automated devices for processes that don’t require human interference is a good way to save time and utilize labor for other difficult tasks. Another example is vehicle-mounted technology. Industrial vehicles such as forklifts can be equipped with it, allowing the driver to communicate throughout the facility, keep track of materials movement, and log actual manpower.
Analyze the layout for possible changes
The layout is one of the most important factors for an efficient material handling system. While restructuring the layout can be disruptive and time-consuming, it can bring about a highly-efficient workflow. Check the layout for changes that can be made to make it more efficient. For example, you can consider using the vertical space of the facility. If you’re running low on ground space, and your workers are stepping all over one another, try overhead material handling equipment, vertical carousels, and vertical lift modules.
Maintain the equipment
Maintaining the equipment properly keeps it in the most optimum condition. This can increase its longevity and effectiveness, passing the benefit to your material handling system. There should be a maintenance schedule in place wherein the machines are regularly oiled, cleaned, and checked for irregularities. Preventative maintenance also avoids big repairs and downtime.
Document the processes for improving efficiency
A proactive approach to improving material handling is to collect data regarding every activity and document the trends. This helps you analyze the loose ends of the system and provides scope for improvement. Here are the few things that you can track for improvisation:
- Record how much time each activity takes. Record the distance products have to cover before reaching their destination. You can use this data to eliminate the inefficiencies and make the processes faster.
- If you want to change the layout, you can log man-hours and see how they compare as you test different workflows.
- If you’re planning to install a new piece of material handling equipment, you can use this data to analyze how the current system compares to the machinery.
Using these tips and making small changes in the facility can significantly help you in improving material handling efficiency.