Material handling directly impacts productivity in warehouses, manufacturing plants, and distribution centers. An inefficient facility causes errors and delays, eroding customer loyalty and making it easier for your competition to snatch away business. Something else that’s interesting? Effective material handling isn’t only about sorting your goods into unit loads. Successful businesses invest time into monitoring and improving their material handling system in order to protect:The integrity of their goods. The productivity of their retail warehouse, 3PL warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing plant The physical and mental health of their workers When a shipment arrives, a good material handling process ensures goods get from the dock to the appropriate rack in good time. It
also accounts for proper control of materials. You can mitigate theft, damage, and spoilage with a material handling process that limits access to certain parts of your warehouse to particular employees. Finally, proper material handling allows warehouses to store goods in an organized manner that makes it easy to pick and pack inventory for outgoing shipments.
What Role Does Warehouse Layout Play in Material Handling?
Your warehouse layout significantly influences your material handling system. It can be the difference between an efficient warehouse and a warehouse that can’t keep it together. A poor warehouse layout causes bottlenecks, increases motion waste (moving more than necessary within the warehouse), and raises the risk of injury due to manual material handling. A well-designed warehouse layout streamlines processes, decreases worker movements, and positively impacts employees’ physical and mental health.
The Different Types of Material Handling Equipment-
- Storage and handling equipment: Stores goods in the time between receiving and shipping. Examples of such equipment are stacking frames, racks, and shelves.
- Engineered systems: Automated units that efficiently move goods through a warehouse and reduce the need for manual intervention. Examples of such equipment are automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), robotic delivery systems, automatic guided vehicles, and conveyor systems.
- Industrial trucks: Powered vehicles that move materials around a warehouse. Examples of such vehicles are forklifts, hand trucks, side loaders, and pallet jacks.
- Bulk Material Handling Equipment: Equipment that assists workers with handling large loads. Examples of such equipment include bucket elevators, stackers, and silos.