Material handling is an important element, which determines the productivity of a warehouse. Material handling is highly labor intensive as compared to any other operations in a warehouse. Therefore the personnel cost in material handling is usually high. Most of the activities in material handling require significant manual handling and hence has little benefits from computerization and improved information technology.
Objectives / Roles
The primary handling objective in a warehouse is to sort inbound shipment according to precise customer requirements. The three handling activities are receiving, in-storage handling and shipping.
When material reaches the warehouse it has to be received by the warehouse. One of the important activities here is to unload the goods from the transportation vehicle. Most of the time unloading is done manually. Containerized or unit-load shipments considerably reduce the unloading time.
- In-storage Handling:
In-storage handling consists of all movement within a warehouse facility. The two types of in-storage handling are transfer and section.
Various transfers of goods happen within the warehouse. The goods as soon as they are received in the warehouse are transferred to the storage area. The second transfer may be required during order selection where goods are transferred from storage area to order selection area. The final transfer of goods takes place when the goods are finally shipped from the warehouse. Here the goods are transferred from the or election to the shipping or outbound area.
Selection activity basically involves selecting different materials and is grouped to meet the , customer demand. The idea of using warehouse as a selection area is to reduce the overall transportation cost.
- Shipping: Shipping consists of checking and loading orders onto transportation vehicles. As in receiving, shipping is manually performed in most systems.
Material handling principles
The principles of materials handling which ensures effective and efficient handling of material are as follows:
- Planning Principle: All material handling should be the result of a deliberate plan. Non-plan movement of materials should be avoided as far as possible.
- Standardization Principle: Material handling equipment, controls, and software should be standardized. While standardizing it should be ensured that performance objectives and flexibility in operations are not sacrificed.
- Work Principle: Material handling work should be minimized without sacrificing productivity.
- Ergonomic Principle: human capabilities and limitations must be taken into consideration while designing material handling tasks and equipments.
- Unit Load: Unit load should be properly determined so that it accommodates all materials and material handling becomes easier.
- Space Utilization Principle: Effective and efficient use must be made of all available space.
- System Principle: Material handling and storage should be fully integrated so that there is a smooth flow of materials in the warehouse.
- Automation Principle: Material handling operations should be mechanized and/or automated where feasible in order to improve operational efficiency. This will reduce potentially unsafe manual labor operations.
- Environmental Principle: Environmental impact and energy consumption such as petrol, diesel, should be considered as criteria when designing or selecting material handling systems.
- Life Cycle Cost Principle: Cost of equipment throughout its entire lifecycle and not only its initial cost should be considered before selecting it.
Designing Handling Systems
The following guidelines should be considered while designing the mate handling systems.
- Equipment for handling and storage should be standardized as possible.
- When in motion, the system should be designed to provide maximum continuous product flow.
- Investment should be in handling rather than stationary equipment
- Handling equipment should be utilized to the maximum extent possible.
- Wherever practical, gravity flow should be incorporated in system design.
Factors Affecting the selection of Material Handling Equipment
The selection of materials handling equipment requires the attaining of proper balance between the production problem, the capabilities of the equipment available, and the human element involved. The ultimate aim is to arrive at the lowest cost per unit of material handled.
Equipment factors to be taken into consideration may well include the following:
Adaptability: the load carrying and movement characteristics of the equipment should fit the materials handling problem.
Flexibilitt: Where possible the equipment should have flexibility to handle more than one material, referring either to class or size.
Load capacity: Equipment selected should have great enough load-carrying characteristics to do the job effectively, yet should not be too large and result in excessive operating costs.
Power: Enough power should be available to do the job.
Speed: Rapidity of movement of material, within the limits of the production process or plant safety, should be considered
Space requirements: The space required to install or operate materials handling equipment is an important factor in its selection.
Supervision required: As applied to equipment selection, this refers to the degree of automaticity designed into the equipment.
Ease of maintenance: Equipment selected should be easily maintained at reasonable cost. Environment: Equipment selected must conform to any environment regulations.
Cost: The consideration of the cost of the equipment is an obvious factor in its selection.
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