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Principles for Material Handling Processes

A critical part of most manufacturing and service organizations is materials – raw as well as work-in-progress. Evidently, a considerable amount of time, effort and money is spent on material handling. Therefore, it’s important to take a pragmatic approach to material handling in order to make the most out of it in a safe and efficient manner. What follows are the principles for material handling processes.

  1. Planning

The first principle of material handling states the importance of establishing a comprehensive material handling plan to include all requirements, means of handling, and the plan of action for all handling activities.

  1. Standardization

It is necessary to standardize handling equipment, controls and software must to the extent that achieves performance objectives without sacrificing flexibility, performance and production.

  1. Ergonomics

The material handling system should be such that it recognizes the capability of humans and limitations. Considering the ergonomic aspects when designing the material handling tasks and equipment is the key to ensure a safe and effective operation.

  1. System

There should be a coordinated and operational system in place achieved by integrating all the material movements and storage activities. The system principle refers to well-integrated and interdependent entities like receiving, assembly, packaging, etc. that work coherently.

  1. Work

The work principle of material handling states that material handling work should be minimised without hindering productivity or the performance of the system. It includes reducing idle time/unproductive time of both handling equipment and manpower.

  1. Unit Load

This principle of material handling requires emphasizes that all unit loads should be appropriately-sized and configured to achieve the handling objectives at each stage in the supply chain.

  1. Space Utilization

An obvious principle of material handling is the effective utilization of space. This can include reducing temporary storage, removing scrap and unnecessary objects regularly. One way of doing this is using overhead handling solutions such as articulating jib cranes, air balancers/hoists and industrial manipulators.

  1. Automation

This principle states that material handling operations should be automated where possible in order to improve operational efficiency, increase responses, improve consistency and predictability, and lower operating costs. During the last 2 decades, the number of people involved in each stage of production is decreasing with new technologies. It has several benefits in terms of reliability, efficiency, safety, time, standardisation and transportation, since there is better coordination.

  1. Environment

This is a very important principle in the current times and situation. The environmental principle of material handling lays down the importance of environmental conservation in handling activities. It says that all environmental impact and energy consumption should be considered when designing or selecting alternative equipment and material handling systems.

  1. Life Cycle Cost

According to this principle, it is good to develop a comprehensive economic analysis that takes into account the entire life cycle of material handling systems. Life cycle costs include all cash flows that will occur from the time of procurement of a new piece of equipment to its disposal.