Material handling equipment is not just essential, it's a necessity for a warehouse. Whether it's a forklift, overhead crane, or conveyor belt — the fact remains the same. If you have material handling equipment installed, but you don't feel like the level of efficiency or productivity has increased in your warehouse, the matter might not be random. It's likely that a simple error on your part is a factor.
The operative word in material handling equipment is equipment. As with any other type of machinery, proper training is important. When a team member does not know how to use the equipment in front of them, you can't expect them to operate the equipment efficiently. Require each person to be thoroughly trained with the type of equipment they work with.
Keep the floors, shelves, and other surfaces where the equipment will operate clean, as poor housekeeping can hurt productivity. Consider a forklift, for instance. Forklifts require a debris-free area for operation. Objects on the floor will cause the operator to exit the machinery to clean the mess. The more times the operator has to stop, the longer it takes to complete the task.
Lack of Inspections
Regularly look over the equipment to ensure it is in proper working order. A malfunction, even a small one, increases the operating costs of the equipment, reduces its lifespan, and can increase the chance for costly repairs. Not to mention, if the equipment fails, your operations could stop. Monitoring the condition of the equipment and scheduling preventative maintenance is helpful.
Having a Plan
Know how you intend to use the equipment before you introduce it into your warehouse. Don't invest in equipment and then determine how you'll use it later. Having a plan allows you to maximize the benefits of the equipment because you know for sure it will serve a functional process. Whether the plan is for the equipment to simplify an existing process or eliminate a process, have a plan.
Ensure the layout of the warehouse is conducive to the type of equipment you install. Take a conveyor belt, for example. Don't install the system on the opposite side of the warehouse, away from the inventory. The belt system should be located closer to the inventory so that your team can fill and complete orders faster, rather than traveling back and forth to the other side of the warehouse.
Maximize the benefits of your material handling equipment with these practices. The little effort you make will go a long way for your warehouse business.