SELECTION OF MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENTS - Production and Operations Management

Selection of Material Handling equipment is an important decision as it affects both cost and efficiency of handling system.

Factors Affecting the Selection of Material Handling equipment

The following factors are to be taken into account while selecting material handling equipment.

  1. PROPERTIES OF THE MATERIAL
    Whether it is solid, liquid or gas, and in what size, shape and weight it is to be moved, are important considerations and can already lead to a preliminary elimination from the range of available equipment under review. Similarly, if a material is fragile, corrosive or toxic this will imply that certain handling methods and containers will be preferable to others.
  2. LAYOUT AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BUILDING
    Another restricting factor is the availability of space for handling. Low-level ceiling may preclude the use of hoists or cranes, and the presence of supporting columns in awkward places can limit the size of the material-handling equipment. If the building is multi-storied, chutes or ramps for industrial trucks may be used. Layout itself will indicate the type of production operation (continuous, intermittent, fixed position or group) and can indicate some items of equipment that will be more suitable than others. Floor capacity also helps in selecting the best material handling equipment.
  3. PRODUCTION FLOW
    If the flow is fairly constant between two fixed positions that are not likely to change, fixed equipment such as conveyors or chutes can be successfully used. If, on the other hand, the flow is not constant and the direction changes occasionally from one point to another because several products are being produced simultaneously, moving equipment such as trucks would be preferable.
  4. COST CONSIDERATIONS
    This is one of the most important considerations. The above factors can help to narrow the range of suitable equipment, while costing can help in taking a final decision. Several cost elements need to be taken into consideration when comparisons are made between various items of equipment that are all capable of handling the same load. Initial investment and operating and maintenance costs are the major cost to be considered. By calculating and comparing the total cost for each of the items of equipment under consideration, a more rational decision can be reached on the most appropriate choice.
  5. NATURE OF OPERATIONS
    Selection of equipment also depends on nature of operations like whether handling is temporary or permanent, whether the flow is continuous or intermittent and material flow pattern-vertical or horizontal.
  6. ENGINEERING FACTORS
    Selection of equipment also depends on engineering factors like door and ceiling dimensions, floor space, floor conditions and structural strength.
  7. EQUIPMENT RELIABILITY
    Reliability of the equipment and supplier reputation and the after sale service also plays an important role in selecting material handling equipments.

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