Material handling function has an effect on the efficiency and the speed of the warehousing operations, which ultimately result in either elongated or compressed order completion cycle. Hence, investment in material handling system is strategic in nature and is always based on the long-term requirements, considering the product volumes and varieties. Normally, the following guidelines are being followed for designing an effective and efficient material handling system:
- Design the system for continuous flow of material, that is idle time should be zero
- Go in for standard equipments that ensure low investment and flexibility in case of changes in material handling requirements in future, if any
- Incorporate gravity flow in the material flow system, if possible
- Ensure that ratio of deadweight to pay load of the material handling equipment is minimum.
There are various material handling systems in use, right from fully manual to the fully automatic ones. However, the selection of a particular system depends on the factors such as:
- Volumes to be handled
- Speed in handling
- Product characteristics (weight, size, shape)
- Nature of the product (hazardous, perishable, crushable)
Recent trends show the preference for designers’ system with higher logistical productivity. However, the investment cost goes up for such material handling system using sophisticated equipments. Hence, in majority of the cases the usage of both manual and mechanized systems in combination is quite common. Dos and dont’s of manual material handling are shown in Figure 5.1.
Source: Sople V.V (2013), Logistics Management, Pearson Education India; Third edition.