Choosing the right mix of material handling solutions for your warehouse or distribution center can make all the difference. Too frequently, logistics businesses implement new technologies, equipment, and solutions without a clear plan to ensure success. Instead of falling into this common misstep, try a phased approach. By first establishing your goals and objectives and moving forward from there, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that frequently occur with too much change all at once. Use the following step-by-step process to find the right material handling equipment product mix.
What are the different types of material handling equipment?
There are four different types of material handling equipment commonly found in warehouse and distribution centers. It is important for warehouse managers to assess all four types of equipment in their space. As a result, they should note how much or how little of each type of equipment exists, how each type helps or hinders daily operations, and if there are ways that the mix of equipment can be changed to improve efficiency and streamline workflows.
This equipment is usually limited to non-automated solutions. Storage equipment holds materials during “downtimes,” or times when they are not in transport. This type of equipment can include pallets, shelves, or racks onto which materials may be stacked. Once stacked, the materials buffer in an orderly manner to await the next step in the chain. Typically, this next step is transport or consumption.
The following equipment falls under the category of “storage”.
This material handling equipment refers to a variety of different pieces of machinery. Each piece works cohesively with its counterpart to enable storage and transportation. Additionally, this equipment is often automated. A good example of an engineered system is an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) which is a large automated organizational structure involving racks, aisles, and shelves accessible by a retrieval system. This system is also referred to as a “shuttle system”, and is a mechanized cherry picker. It can be used by a worker or can perform fully automated functions to quickly locate a storage item’s location and retrieve it for other uses.
Industrial, also known as material handling trucks, refer to the different kinds of transportation machinery and vehicles used to move materials and products. These transportation devices can include the following.
- Hand trucks
- Pallet trucks
- Order pickers
- Various kinds of forklifts
Bulk Material Handling
Bulk material handling refers to the storing and transportation of materials in loose bulk form. Commonly, this refers to food or liquid materials. These pieces of equipment deal with the items in loose form, such as elevators or conveyor belts designed to move large quantities of material. Additionally, they may also deal with materials in packaged form, through the use of drums and hoppers.
This may include the following types of equipment.
Steps for improving material handling solutions
Before you jump to a decision about an automated or technology solution to your warehouse problem, assess your current operations. If you can’t state that your present conventional operations are optimal, then it may be premature to seek a technological or equipment-based solution.
After this determination, assessing your current material handling solutions is the next best step.
Next, follow a phased plan. The following step-by-step plan to improve material handling solutions can streamline overall warehouse operations, increase efficiency, and maximize the potential of your warehouse space.
- Establish business goals and project objectives.
- Conduct assessment and develop a baseline of measuring success.
- Define future operations requirements.
- Develop and evaluate alternative options.
- Select and implement a solution.
- Establish new processes and procedures.
- Conduct a post-implementation audit.
In summary, make sure you do your homework and establish a current baseline and clear future objectives. Be open to new ideas and make sure your current operation is optimized. Use a system to evaluate each of your options before making any decisions. If you do this, you will increase the likelihood that your recommended solution meets the objectives, ensuring success, and that you do not overpay for your solution.
In short, executing a material handling solutions change in phases, with the right planning, typically results in much more success than an “all-at-once” approach.
Specialized Storage can help your business
In reality, there are hundreds of companies from which you can buy warehouse equipment. We want you to know that Specialized Storage is different. Our goal is to reduce your risk by analyzing your operation and designing a custom solution that works for you. Implementing the right product mix to meet your needs can make all the difference. So, our experts ask the right questions, determine the real need, and provide a cost-effective solution for your business. In other words, we don’t use a “one size fits all” approach. We guarantee that the application, layout, and design of our material handling solution plan for your business will improve your business. With Specialized Storage, you benefit from proven practices, professionalism, predictability, and peace of mind.