The best way for a business to run smoothly is for it to identify inefficiencies and address them quickly. The economy is a volatile environment, which means you simply cannot afford to let inefficiencies eat into your profits.
The main culprit for inefficiencies in manufacturing and warehouse operations come via material handling equipment – either a complete lack of it, or sub-standard items. You may even have the right material handling equipment, but the way your operation is setup could be causing it to be used in an inefficient manner. If you’re not using proper material handling equipment, or if the equipment you have is not up to the task, then your productivity could be affected negatively.
You need to take a good look at the way you do things, and see where material handling equipment can be used to improve your processes. Additionally, you need to examine where ‘hidden’ inefficiencies might be causing your productivity issues.
Here are three ways in which you may be sabotaging your business, due to material handling equipment inefficiencies.
1. Is Your Layout as Effective?
You’ve probably seen videos on YouTube that demonstrates a chain reaction. A line of dominoes is a good example of this – push one colorful domino at the start and without human intervention, an image of the American flag unfurls at the end. An effective chain reaction is one of the most effective systems possible – and your production system needs to be just as effective.
Analyze your workflow and make sure everything runs as smooth as possible. If one end of a production system is too far from the next one, then re-configure everything. Don’t just plug this gap by buying a suitable material handling equipment solution – the less journeys this piece of equipment makes, the more effective your workflow will be.
You might also find areas where a ‘gap’ can actually be ‘plugged’ with material handling equipment – look for areas with a lot of manual handling. Even if a small amount of manual handling is required—if it’s repeated often, the personnel performing the manual handling will soon grow fatigued. Tired workers become slow workers and they can be a danger to themselves and to others around them. You can make these sections in your workflow become more effective by arming these employees with suitable material handling equipment.
Other ideas you might consider are narrower aisles and efficient traffic systems. Material handling equipment in the form of narrow lift trucks is surprisingly cost-effective and will pay for itself in the long run. An effective traffic system is one where material transportation routes do not cross. Time is wasted if the people operating your material handling equipment are constantly forced to stop and watch out for cross traffic.
2. Make Sure You Use the Correct Material Handling Equipment
If you already have material handling equipment, but it’s the same material-handling equipment you have been using for years, then you might be sabotaging your business just as much as if you didn’t have any material handling equipment at all!
Much of our everyday tasks has been computerized in some form or another, so it’s no surprise to learn that some items of material handling equipment now come micro-processed! Vehicle-mounted technology has changed the way material handling equipment is perceived, and more importantly how it is operated and what it brings to the operation as a whole. Think – instead of having your fork-lift driver safely park his vehicle and then find his way to the nearest convenient computer terminal, he can access all of your important data systems without ever leaving the comfort of his cab! He can also communicate with anyone else on the production floor – and anyone else in the building.
Don’t forget energy efficiency! If you’re wasting dollars powering your vehicles to complete unnecessary tasks, then that is going to eat into your profit margins. Invest in energy-efficient technology where you can. The initial outlay may be greater, but the savings in the long run are well worth the investment.
3. Are You Properly Documenting Everything?
You may have a ‘gut feeling’ about how efficiently your operation is running, but sometimes gut feelings can be wholly incorrect and even ‘seeing is believing’ doesn’t fly in this environment. If you genuinely want to improve your operational efficiency, then you need the figures to ‘prove’ where sabotaging inefficiencies are taking place.
You need to log everything and then keep an eye out for trends. You can keep track of how many man hours are being spent on the simple transfer of items to one part of the process to another. You’ll then be able to see where bottlenecks are taking place, or where real improvements need to be made.
If you are already using material handling equipment, then you can log how often this equipment is being used. Perhaps you’ll be able to see where an investment in better technology, or more items, needs to be made. On the other hand, you may be able to see where some equipment is unnecessary and in other areas where an item could possibly be used more efficiently.
You can only guarantee maximum efficiency when every part of your workflow process is running like clockwork, and where each part has the proper tools in order to maximize that efficiency. If you are not using material handling equipment where you need it, or you are using material handling equipment that is simply not up to the task at hand, then you are in effect sabotaging your own business, and your chances of profitability. In today’s volatile market, you simply do not have the luxury of taking any chances.
Contact Douglas Equipment for Your Material Handling Needs
If you need material handling equipment in order to improve your production efficiency, then the team here at Douglas Equipment can help. Call us today toll free at 800-451-0030, or 305-888-3700 if you live in the Miami area. You can also always contact us through our online contact form.