A good materials handling engineer will generally have several years of experience that can be brought to bear on the solution of materials handling problems or the design of materials handling systems. For many years, discussions of principles of materials handling have been published by many experts in the field and it includes the following principles
Eliminate wasteful methods
- Reducing to a minimum the number of handlings of materials.
- Eliminating unnecessary mixing and subsequent sorting
- Using mechanical aids to eliminate the use of hand labor in movement of materials.
- Avoiding the unnecessary transfer of materials from floor to workplace or from container to container.
- Increasing the speed of handling
- Utilizing containers and unit loads.
- Utilizing gravity as a moving force wherever practicably
- Introducing automatically into the materials handling plan.
In laying out the plant
- Plan a system for materials flow and combine handling with processing wherever possible
- Provide for continuous or appropriate intermittent flow of materials.
- Provide for the optimal flow of materials between operations and with a minimum of retrograde movement.
- Plant the layout of the work-station area for a minimum of handling of the product.
- Maximize the quantity and size of weight handle
- Coordinate the overall materials handling throughout the entire plant.
- Provide for safe handling and safe equipment and integrate with the management information and control system.
- Plan for adequate receiving, storage and shipping facilities.
- Design adequate aisle and access areas.
In the selection and application of materials handling equipment –
- Plan activities and analyze equipment needs before considering the purchase of new equipment.
- Ensure that the existing equipment is being used effectively.
- Use the simplest equipment that is adaptable to the problem and avoid the use of complicated mechanisms and controls.
- Adopt standard equipment if possible; ensure that the purchase of special equipment is economically justified
- Select equipment that is flexible in its application.
- Select equipment that will minimize the ratio of mobile equipment deadweights to pay loads.
- Determine comparative costs of equipment before purchasing
- Recognize the need for different equipment for different jobs.
- Recognize the need to provide suitable building conditions for the equipment.
- Provide for alternative methods for use in emergencies.
- Give consideration to the maintenance of the equipment.
- Replace obsolete methods and equipment with more efficient ones.