Design and operation of an efficient production plant requires a good and effective material handling system for moving the materials and components from one stage of production to another. It is an inevitable activity from start to finish.
In general, “material handling” may be defined as the art and science of moving, packing and storing of articles in any form”. Mechanical handling of equipment in a production organization includes the handling of raw materials and tools, movement of components from one operation to another and the final movement of finished products from the stores through packing to the dispatch section. Material handling thus embraces the movement, handling and storage of every thing within and around an establishment.
Mechanical handling as a branch of material handling covers the use of mechanical aids in the movement, storage and handling of materials. Mechanical handling is of great assistance in transport of heavy goods, movement of delicate goods, keeping awkward objects mobile, avoidance of production stoppage and movement of goods safely around corners and through doorways etc.
Rules for Material Handling
The following rules may be observed in this respect :
(i) Proper location and Layout of stores reduce the distance moved.
(ii) The use of right method and proper handling equipment saves a great deal of labor and money.
(iii) All manual handling which involves too much physical strain should be mechanized.
(iv) Wasteful handling methods should be eliminated by introducing unit loads where practicable, reducing handling to minimum over the shortest route and making use of gravity flow where possible.
(v) Avoid major movements by using in plant storage.
(vi) Materials once lifted up should be transported and placed in such a manner so as to avoid a second time handling before it is put to use.
(vii) Handling equipment should be relevant to the job.
(viii) Bulky and heavy goods should not be left flat in contact with the ground but placed on wooden planks or pallets for case in lifting.
(ix) Use packaging which makes the optimum use of handling and stores facilities.
(x) Use map-shalling area for assembly of goods.
(xi) Stack pallets to maximum safe usable height.
(xii) Mechanical handling equipment recommended where practicable.
Importance of Materials handling in Production Management.
In any manufacturing organization, material handling activities are found to be unproductive. On one hand, these are expensive by nature whereas on the other hand, these add very little to the value of the product. It has been generally observed that material handling cost is 10% to 30% of the total labor costs.
Thus, there is an urgent necessity to review the internal material handling system intensively and develop such a system as will reduce not only the unnecessary movement of material from here to there but at the same time will save the total cost. New types of material handling devices are being continuously developed with higher degree of mechanization so as to achieve more productivity, create more flexibility in operations and obtaining substantial reduction in costs of production.