Material handling has become a crucial part of every production and logistics unit. It is the process that involves the movement of bulky items at a short distance inside the building and protection, storage, and control of their flow from start to finish.
Material handling processes are helpful in retail stores, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other facilities where the chances of accidents are pretty high. These efficient systems work commendably well in streamlining work activities and organizing factory space and workload on the labor.
Reasons to use Material Handling Equipment
When it comes to tackling the industrial processes, the primary motive is to attain the highest possible efficiency while keeping the overheads down – that can be only achieved with a material handling system in place. Here are some of the common reasons to have it in your warehouse too –
- To decrease the material handling workforce and ensure an easy moving of load.
- To devise a well-thought warehousing and storage layout and reduce excessive usage of space.
- To operate your equipment at full capacity and keep the labor cost down.
- To reduce the waste generation of your plant and save the environment as well.
- To avoid manual lifting and handling and prevent the risk of injuries.
Popular Types of Material Handling Equipment
The main categories of material handling equipment fall into these categories –
- Storage and handling equipment: to improve space utilization and streamline the supply chain. These include racks, bins and drawers, stacking frames, and shelves.
- Transport equipment: to move the load within or in and out of the facility such as industrial trucks, conveyor belts, cranes, lifts and elevators.
- Engineered and automated equipment: to store and transport the products in large volumes, for example, automated guided vehicles and robotic delivery systems.
- Bulk material handling equipment: to carry goods in bulk or loose form. The common ones are stackers, reclaimers, hoppers, silos, grain elevators, and bucket elevators.
Applications of Material Handling Equipment
Material handling equipment has gained a prominent position in the below-mentioned areas –
- Automobile industry, on assembly lines to carry car hoods, seats, gear-boxes, engines, and other accessories.
- Steel industry, on the production line, to move, cut, roll, and pack steel sheets and products.
- Marine and shipping industry, on docks to move, load, and unload the freight containers.
- Mining industry, to handle dry and mined products in giant quantities.
- Cement industry, to help in elevating or moving materials throughout the plant setup.
Limitations of Material Handling Equipment
Although material handling equipment finds applications in several industries and also offer special benefits in each of them; it does come with a few set of limitations –
- User safety. The machinery that was first introduced to reduce the rate of mishaps on the premises often becomes the culprit. Workers are often reported injured by the moving vehicle or objects.
- Lack of knowledge. Not all warehouses have a sufficient number of skilled folks to handle the different types of handling equipment. As a result, it adds to more labor costs, turnover rates, human errors, and downtime.
- Inadequate training. Labor is often not properly trained for wise material handling techniques, which leads to errors and inaccuracies along with an interrupted supply chain.
However, with proper care and attention, anyone can overcome these challenges. You can always make the most of your material handling equipment choice by looking into its cost, adaptability, load and speed capacity, and your site layout.