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Materials Handling & Packaging

By Anonymous - Posted on 15 January 2012

Typically, distribution warehouses perform the activities of receiving, shipping and storing large number of goods on a continuous basis. This demands large amounts of internal movement of goods, loading and unloading activities and good storage mechanism within the warehouse.

Material handling is responsible for :

Designing efficient processes required for handling and moving goods.
Using these processes for the actual handling and movement of goods from / to the required locations to / from the storage areas

Some objectives of materials handling are as follows:
- To increase cube utilization by using the height of the building and by reducing the need for aisle space as much as possible;
- To improve operating efficiency by reducing handling. Increasing the load per move will result in fewer moves;
- To improve the service level by increasing the speed of response to customer needs

For convenience, materials handling equipment can be grouped into 3 categories:
- Conveyors are devices that move material horizontally or vertically between 2 fixed points. They are expensive, create a fixed route and occupy
space continuously. They are used only where there is sufficient throughput between fixed points to justify their cost;

- Industrial trucks are vehicles powered by hand, electricity, or propane. Industrial trucks are more flexible than conveyors in that they can move
anywhere there is a suitable surface and no obstructions. They do not occupy space continuously. For these reasons, they are the most often-used form of material handling in distribution centers and in manufacturing;

- Cranes and hoists can move materials vertically and horizontally to any point within their area of operation. They use overhead space and are used to move heavy or large items. Within their area of operation, they are very flexible.

The basic role of packaging in any industrial organization is to carry the goods safely through a distribution system to the customer. The package must do the following:

- Identify the product,
- Contain and protect the product,
- Contribute to physical distribution efficiency.

For consumer products, the package may also be an important part of the marketing program. The package serves as a means of identifying the product in a way not possible from its outward appearance. The package must be robust enough to protect and contain the product through all phases of distribution.

Unitization is the process of consolidating individual products into bigger units in order to achieve reduction in material handling and labour costs and in improving the transportation efficiency of the products. These bigger units are called unit loads. Unit loads can represent containers, boxes, cartons, racks, pallets and other possible packaging forms.

Unitization can be successive where the initial products can be consolidated in a unit load, these unit loads can further be consolidated into bigger unit loads and so on. Effective unitization requires the products to be consolidated into the appropriate unit loads. To achieve this, it is necessary to understand the dimensional relationshipsbetween the products and their subsequent unit loads.

As an example, consider a soft drink bottle to be a product. 20 such bottles are handled in a crate, the racks in one transport vehicle handles 100 crates and the distribution storage area is designed to hold 10 racks.
One product = one soft drink bottle
One crate = 20 soft drink bottles
One rack = 100 crates = 2000 soft drink bottles
Storage area = 10 racks = 1000 crates = 20000 soft drink bottles
In addition to the advantages of material handling and transport efficiency, unitization also helps in reducing the chances of damage to the products

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