So, you have finalized a warehouse and wish to commence with other setup responsibilities. What’s the immediate next step that demands your attention?
It isn’t the inventory management or automation, but the material handling equipment.
You need to plan how you will handle, store, move, load, and safeguard your material. And here, the material handling equipment or MHE puts in an appearance.
Based on the kind of material you store and transport, plan the MHE for your warehouse.
For instance, you need to brainstorm or discuss over questions like:
- What is the frequency of material transportation?
- Do I need to set up mezzanines, or just the drive-through racks would be enough?
- Do I need conveyor systems or my investment allows me to add AGV navigation?
- Can I buy hand trucks or lease electric order pickers?
By now, you know that MHE helps you facilitating your warehouse operations with ease. But how crucial are material handling equipment for supply chain management?
Let’s dive in and draw out some answers!
Why is Material Handling Equipment Important?
- Efficient Material Handling
The material handling equipment helps you store, move, load, and ship out your material. The choice of equipment speeds up this process and adds to the staff’s convenience.
From unloading trucks, storing to shipping out, you must follow material handling protocol. And the MHE helps you facilitate all these operations efficiently within the warehouse.
- Reducing the Cost of Warehouse Operations
If you choose the wrong MHE or work with insufficient MHE, you are likely to lose efficiency.
The right MHE accelerates the process of controlling the material and orders. And this efficiency translates into reduced operations and shipping costs.
- Preventing Workplace Accidents and Material Damage
You cannot run a warehouse efficiently with makeshift arrangements. Material handling has a high risk of material damage based on the type of material.
Moreover, makeshift arrangements mark a crucial risk of fatal accidents. And it violates the labor safety protocol.
With that said, you need a material handling equipment setup to eliminate these risks.
You might also need extra safety equipment like safety bollards, door track guards, etc.
- Enhancing the Accuracy of Supply Chain Management
MHE helps you support the automation for your warehouse management.
Be it deciding the LIFO or FIFO strategies, finding or shipping out orders, MHE delivers accuracy. And therefore, there is less to no back & forth.
The material handling equipment increases the overall supply chain efficiency and accuracy.
How to Maximize on the Benefits of Material Handling Equipment (MHE)
- Scrutinize and Choose the Right Material Handling Equipment
Let me repeat it; You must choose the right MHE based on the material you handle.
You need to assess and consider factors like:
- What type of racks and storage equipment must you choose?
- What must be the width of the aisle or the height of the rack?
- Do you need automated forklifts, platform trucks, or sideloaders?
- What type of bulk material handling equipment can increase efficiency for your business?
- Do you need to install gas cylinder cages or any other safety equipment?
You must aim at finding the equipment that:
- Aligns with your warehouse layout, aisle width, ceiling height, labor skills, etc
- Speeds up the material handling process
- Saves on the cost of handling material
- Meets the safe handling and labor safety standards
- Plan a Prudent MHE Acquisition Strategy
Another crucial factor that you must consider is the equipment acquisition strategy. You can rent the material handling equipment, buy it, or lease it.
You need to define the right combination of these equipment acquisition strategies.
You can buy the equipment that serves ongoing operations, irrespective of the change in demands. And you can lease the MHE that you might need to upgrade in the future.
Moreover, MHE that is only useful during seasonal demands can be rented.
Make sure you understand and discuss the details of the lease contract. These details can include the date of the contract, the units of equipment leased, policies, etc.
You must also check which party is liable to pay the repairs costs. And check what the lifetime value of the equipment is.
The goal is to establish the most cost-effective and sustainable MEH acquisition strategy. This strategy has a direct impetus on your return on investment.
- Analyze MHE Data and Optimize Operations
You must keep your material handling equipment data handy for analysis and optimization.
You can check important MHE data like:
- The hours of use of an equipment
- The cost per hour of operating an equipment
- The total no. of idle time for several MHE
- The total time a piece of equipment takes for a particular task
- The inefficiencies encountered while operating or using an equipment
- The maintenance time required by an MHE
This data will help you compare the productivity of several pieces of equipment. And you can minimize the idle time and shift the maintenance to non-working days.
You might consider trying alternatives for some MHE to increase efficiency. You might also find it profitable to upgrade some material handling equipment.
Non-productive equipment might need to be replaced or returned (if rented). You might also consider training the operator and enhance his skills.
These optimization practices help you get the most out of the material handling equipment.
- Maintenance and Replacement of Material Handling Equipment
Your warehouse MHE defines the efficacy of your logistics and warehouse operations. And you must make sure that it is up and running.
Make sure you conduct a routine inspection of your material handling equipment. And pass the equipment for precision check and repair services in case of breakdown.
Also, set up immediate assistance in case an MHE encounters a breakdown while working.
And define a routine maintenance schedule for your MHE to draw maximum efficiency.
You can also schedule the routine equipment maintenance on the rest days every month.
- Scrutinize your Automation Needs and Prefer Efficiency over Technology
Several automated systems can transform your warehouse management processes. However, still many automated systems offer limited functionality.
The AS/RS systems are productive for tasks like storing and shipping out. However, they may not help you process material or add customization to the process.
Or, automated guided vehicles might increase the cost of the operations. And you might get the same productivity at a lower cost by using a conveyor system.
Meanwhile, a robotic delivery system can be highly productive than a conveyor system. And here, automation offers higher efficiency.
With that said, you need to scrutinize the percentage of automation you need. You must customize the material handling equipment setup based on your requirements.