Materials handling principle

Certain principles have evolved to guide facility layout to ensure efficient handling of materials. Although there are no hard and fast rules, they do provide effective guidelines for the efficient movement of materials in most facility layouts.

The following points list the materials handling principle which provide a frame-work for selecting specific materials, handling devices/equipments, which form the core of the materials handling system.

1.Materials should move through the facility in direct flow patterns, minimizing zigzagging or backtracking.
2.Related production processes should be arranged to provide for direct material flows.
3.Mechanized materials handling devices should be designed and located so that human effort is minimized.
4.Heavy and bulky materials should be moved through the shortest distance during processing.
5.The number of times each material is handled should be minimized.
6.Systems flexibility should allow for unexpected breakdowns of materials handling equipments, changes in production system technology, etc.
7.Mobile equipments should carry full loads all the times.
The seven principles can be summarized in the form of the following guidelines:

1. Eliminate handling: If not, make the handling distance as short as possible.

2. Keep moving: If not, reduce the time spent at the terminal points of a route making it as short as possible.

3. Use simple patterns of material flow (the simplest flow): is a straight line path of flow which minimizes the handling distances between two points). If not, reduce backtracking, crossovers and other congestion producing patterns as much as possible.

4. Carry pay loads both ways: If not, minimize the time spent in “transport empty� by speed changes and route relocations.

5. Carry full loads: If not, consider increasing the size of unit loads, decreasing carrying capacity, lowering speed, or acquiring more versatile equipment.

6. Use gravity: If not, try to find another source of power that is reliable and inexpensive. In addition to the above guidelines, there are certain other very important aspects of materials handling, such as :

(a)Materials handling consideration should include the movement of men, machine, tools and information.
(b)The flow system must support the objectives of receiving, sorting, inspecting, inventorying, accounting, packaging and assembling.

Since the considerations and objectives do conflict, it is essential to take a systematic decision followed by delicate diplomacy to establish a material movement plan that meets the service requirement without subordinating safety and economy.

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  • M S Katwe