Material Handling controls all the basic operations involved in the movement of bulk, packaged and individual products in a semisolid or solid state by means of machinery and within the specified boundaries of business. It is directly associated with productivity, efficiency and above all cost-effectiveness.
The objectives of Material Handling are further defined as:
- Increase efficiency in the material flow.
- Improving facility utilization
- Improve safety as well as working conditions.
- Facilitate the manufacturing process faster.
All the above at reduced cost would automatically become productivity centered and as Material handling can account for 30-75 % of production costs and can shrink operational costs by 15-30 % so it becomes an evident area of focus for any productivity enhancement and cost reduction movement.
Principles of material handling
Following are the guiding principles of Material Handling System Design and Link to productivity. The ten most vital principles used today in the field that will help in the establishment of efficient material handling systems and also in measuring the improvement areas are:
- Planning principle: Choice of material handling equipment should be the result of a structured unit of specific course of action i.e., a plan to determine what material and how much needs to be moved, when and where it will be moved, and how it will be done
- Standardization principle: Methods, equipment, control devices, and software should be standardized without reducing the level of performance and the need for flexibility
- Work principle: Material handling flow should be kept to as minimum as possible within the requirements demanded by the effectiveness and efficiency of a Material Handling system. “The best flow is no flow.”
- Ergonomic principle: Material Handling activates should be designed and proper equipment chosen after taking into consideration human capabilities and limitations to enhance the level of safety and working conditions
- Unit load principle: The amount of Material to be moved or stored as a unit should be sized and configured according to the specific needs and objectives of the Material Handling facility
- Space utilization principle: The cubic [volumetric] space should be used as effectively and effectively as possible
- System principle: A Material Handling system consists of a collection of elements working and interacting together as a unit to perform a common function
- Automation principle: The level of mechanization and automation depends on the operational requirements and financial capabilities specific to each situation
- Environmental principle: Environmental impact and energy consumption should be important factors in the selection of a material handling system
- Life cycle cost principle: In the economic analysis of a material handling system all cash flows need to be considered along the service life of the system