Materials handling systems are expensive to purchase and operate. The expenses are those of initial costs, labor cost for operating the material handling equipments and maintenance and repair costs. The indirect expenses are those resulting from damaged or lost materials, delays in material deliveries and accidents. Since these expenses are quite substantial, greater attention of management is needed to the design and selection of materials handling systems.
Since the pattern of flow of material in a plant definitely affects the materials handling costs, it is vital that the design and layout of buildings must be integrated with the design of the materials-handling system. Hence, the selection and design of the materials handling system should be done along with the development of the layout as each one affects the other.
For example, if overhead cranes are to be used, the structure of the building must be strong enough to support the operation of these services. If heavy loads are to be transported on trucks, floors must have adequate support to withstand these loads. Aisles or gangways must be wide enough to accommodate fork lift trucks that will travel through the areas carrying the loads. Adequate floor space has to be provided in the layout for fixed position handling devices such as conveyors.
Steps to be followed in the selection and design of materials handling systems are:
1.Identification of the appropriate systems.
2.Review of design criteria and objectives of the handling system.
3.Collection of data regarding flow pattern and flow requirements.
4.Identification of activity relationships between departments.
5.Determination of space requirement and establishment of material flow pattern.
6.Analysis of material and building characteristics.
7.Preliminary selection of basic handling system and generation of alternative systems considering feasibility of mechanization and equipment capabilities.
8.Evaluation of alternatives with respect to optimal material flow, utilizing gravity, minimum cost, flexibility, ease of maintenance and capacity utilization.
9.Selection of the best suitable alternative system and checking it for compatibility with the layout.
10.Specification of the system.
11.Procurement of the equipment and installation of the system.