The proverbial stage is set and a deeper dive is required to further move product along beyond the design stage. The complexity and detail in the design stage required an extensive mastery of material handling products that can be used coupled with an understanding and knowledge of the customer’s operation. The engineering stage, the next in the evolution of a turnkey material handling solution, is likely the most critical stage in developing and advancing the ideas along with any/all specifications to meet the material handling needs of product movement. Getting product from one place to the next and mapping out its journey through specific products and solutions is the key to this phase.
The material handling equipment used to execute the design is dependent on how product will flow through the warehouse. By utilizing layout developments and analyses from the design phase, this stage fully emerges—innovative technologies and advancements truly come alive and the transformation between a vision and a reality takes shape.
The engineering stage is where decisions are made, connecting the pieces of the design to vendors that will collectively meet the needs of the material handling. Considerations include: product handling and the process of movement, storage, customization and the space and function of equipment.
Product handling and movement should always be continuous—fluid as many would say. There is a starting place and an ending place and all that in between is the utilization of automated technologies and solutions partnered with warehouse operators to perform real-time product movement consistently, accurately, and efficiently. The key to determining the right material handling equipment is in the evaluation of vendors and their offerings to accomplish the processes and tasks at hand.
Product Handling & Process What product/material is moving and the process of getting the product from point A to point B all play an integral part in selecting the right material handling equipment. Weight, shape, and type of equipment can all have varying factors in limiting what equipment is made available and may also have an impact on speeds and throughput. All of these factors should be considered in the determination of choosing what equipment will be best suited for the application.
Storage Flow may not always be fluid. The flow of a system can include how product is stored beyond the ‘fluid’ movement on a conveyor or sortation line. Some products will move more frequently and repeatedly than others. Some products will require storage. Storage needs and requirements may be designed to assist in overstock material. These elements can include racking, shelving, mezzanine, or other storage equipment.
Customization, Space & Function Most solutions have a specific unique function and footprint. It is in the engineering stage that function is evaluated, customizing solutions that will target your specific material handling challenge. Automated solutions become the forefront to this stage as automation provides more flexibility and seamless processing. These solutions also save space, time and money long-term resulting in more productivity and efficiency. Taking the design, flow of product movement, and process to which materials move, and allocating the specific automated equipment and solutions that would best be suited (based on the space and function of the equipment) is paramount to this phase.
When engineering a design, some consideration should be tendered to implement solutions that require minimal maintenance and/or low costs to maintain. These factors may also contribute to the decisions made to maximize ROI while minimizing any costs incurred on product maintenance and upkeep.
Choosing the right application and the right equipment for the material handling needs in your facility is where engineering shines. For an implementation and installation (the final stage in the evolution of a turnkey solution) is not successful without the thorough and extensive collaborative design and engineering stages in devising a complete system solution that truly works.
Author: Heather Connors, Director of Marketing, Conveyor Handling Company