Material handling refers to the movement, storage, protection, and control of materials and products on the entire manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, consumption, and disposal. Material handling involves helping the industry in forecasting, flow and process management, inventory management and control, allocation of resources, production planning, customer delivery, and after sales support and services. 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.
There is a wide variety of manual, semi-automated, and automated material handling technologies and equipment being used to help in the movement, storage, protection and control of products and materials such as conveyors, hoisting equipment, lift trucks, and overhead cranes. The following principles apply when designing a material handling system: planning, system, standardization, work, ergonomics, unit load, environment, automation, 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. It is important to have a standardized material handling methods, controls, equipment, and software to be able to perform different tasks in various operating conditions. Material handling processes must be simplified through reduction, combination, or elimination of unnecessary movement that can impede productivity. Safety must be emphasized when designing material handling equipment and methods, supporting the abilities of workers, and reducing repetitive and strenuous manual labor. Space utilization involves freeing your work areas from clutter and organizing it to maximize storage density without compromising flexibility and accessibility.
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. When designing the material handling system, it is important to consider the energy use and impacts to the environment. Automated material handling technologies must be deployed as needed to improve efficiency of operations, consistency, responsiveness, and predictability. When it comes to the life cycle cost, there should be considerations in the capital investment, setup, installation, system testing, maintenance and repair, training, programming, operation, reuse value, and disposal. Material handling technologies and equipment are utilized in various industries such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical, retail, materials processing, consumer goods, e-commerce, food and beverage, construction, hardware, warehousing, and distribution, and automotive. Check out our related articles about materials handling processes and equipment by visiting our website or homepage now!