The following guidelines are invaluable in the design and cost reduction of the materials handling system:

  1. As material handling adds no value but increases the production cycle time, eliminate handling wherever possible. Ideally there should not be any handling at all!
  2. Sequence the operations in logical manner so that handling is unidirectional and smooth.
  3. Use gravity wherever possible as it results in conservation of power and fuel.
  4. Standardize the handling equipments to the extent possible as it means interchangeable usage, better utilization of handling equipments, and lesser spares holding.
  5. Install a regular preventive maintenance programme for material handling equipments so that downtime is minimum.
  6. In selection of handling equipments, criteria of versatility and adaptability must be the governing factor. This will ensure that investments in special purpose handling equipments are kept at a minimum.
  7. Weight of unit load must be maximum so that each ‘handling trip’ is productive.
  8. Work study aspects, such a elimination of unnecessary movements and combination of processes should be considered while installing a material handling system.
  9. Non-productive operations in handling, such as slinging, loading, etc., should be kept at a minimum through appropriate design of handling equipment. Magnetic cranes for scrap movement and loading in furnaces combination of excavators and tippers for ores loading and unloading in mines are examples in this respect.
  10. Location of stores should be as close as possible to the plant which uses the materials. This avoids handling and minimizing investment in material handling system.
  11. Application of OR techniques such as queuing can be very effective in optimal utilization of materials handling equipments.
  12. A very important aspect in the design of a material handling system is the safety aspect. The system designed should be simple and safe to operate.
  13. Avoid any wasteful movements-method study can be conducted for this purpose.
  14. Ensure proper coordination through judicious selection of equipments and training of workmen.

There is a close relationship between plant layout and material handling. A good layout ensures minimum material handling and eliminates rehandling in the following ways:

  1. Material movement does not add any value to the product so, the material handling should be kept at minimum though not avoid it. This is possible only through the systematic plant layout. Thus a good layout minimizes handling.
  2. The productive time of workers will go without production if they are required to travel long distance to get the material tools, etc. Thus a good layout ensures minimum travel for workman thus enhancing the production time and eliminating the hunting time and travelling time.
  3. Space is an important criterion. Plant layout integrates all the movements of men, material through a well designed layout with material handling system.
  4. Good plant layout helps in building efficient material handling system. It helps to keep material handling shorter, faster and economical. A good layout reduces the material backtracking, unnecessary workmen movement ensuring effectiveness in manufacturing. Thus a good layout always ensures minimum material handling.

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Production and Operations Management Topics