Supply Chain Trends

4 reasons why your material handling equipment is failing you

Written by
Jonathan Porter
Feb 25, 2022
3:45 am
minute read

You’ve invested in material handling equipment, and you’ve scaled your workforce. But you do not see that boost in efficiency or productivity. What is going wrong? 

Material handling equipment is necessary but at times can hinder the things you’re looking for it to accomplish. So how do you go into all this with knowledge and awareness of maximizing your equipment potential? 

What is Material Handling Equipment? 

Material handling equipment is anything that allows you to move and track product throughout the handling process. You have plenty of systems in your warehouse wherein materials need to be moved from point A to point B. This may be during order fulfillment or organization, or shipping processing. The system with which you move these items is fundamental as customers rely on fast order fulfillment. Not only this, but customers (and businesses) generally like their items to arrive safely- this goes for moving through the warehouse as well. 

Material handling equipment is anything from forklifts to conveyor belts. It could refer to pallet jacks, bucket elevators, hoppers, and the list goes on. The purpose (or intended purpose) is to maximize the efficiency and productivity of your warehouse, saving you money, time, product and safety. 

Seeing the Other Side

So how can any of this hinder your business? How could mechanizing your processes ever go wrong? Before sinking your company's money and effort into material handling equipment, there are several things to be aware of before sinking your company’s money and effort. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before jumping in:

  1. Do you have a specified MHE budget, and if so, does it include the cost of system upgrades, repairs and operators?
  2. Are you willing to train all staff in the operation and safety of the MHE? 
  3. Does your product volume warrant MHE OR is your product volume constantly changing? 
  4. How flexible is your warehouse in terms of space? Do you have plans to maximize space efficiency while keeping tabs on safety? 
  5. How reliant do you anticipate your business being on this piece of machinery/ system? 

These questions and more are a great place to start when thinking about employing MHE in your warehouse. It is always good to see not only the benefits but also the other side of the coin. 

4 Ways your MHE Could Fail You

So how do you prepare for your MHE? You get to know all the ways it could go wrong before looking at the ways it could go right. Here are a few ways your MHE may fail you.

1. The machine could break

Repairs are not something anyone counts on when they purchase a shiny new machine, but they happen. More often than not, they are costly and require time—something most businesses don’t have to spare. When a machine like a conveyor goes ‘down,’ typical workflows need to be rerouted or paused. Losing one whole stream of product flow is costly not only in terms of movement but also in terms of fixing. Parts can cost a lot, and so can the labour to repair the machine! 

2. Inflexibility means low movement

If you envision your product base expanding or shrinking, you may have an issue. Moving conveyors takes time and planning and is not always as flexible as it seems. Other aspects of MHE are challenging to keep flexible as well. Forklifts, for example, are large and require storage somewhere, taking up valuable space in your warehouse. 

3. Ruined product

When machines fail, they fail your product. Not only can the machines be constantly, but the loss of materials can be as well. Using automated packing systems and sorting systems can be time-efficient when they work effectively, but always ask about what happens if they fail.

4. The MHE you purchased is not automated

If you’re looking to maximize your efficiency but are looking into non-automated MHE—This may be a problem! Automation allows for faster fulfillment with more precision. What is the point of better machines if we don’t use all the features they could offer!

Maximize Productivity, But be Aware of the Risks

We all want our businesses to do well. We want them to run effectively with an emphasis on productivity and safety. MHE can be the way to get there, but there are many risk factors to be aware of before diving in financially. Do you want to implement new material handling equipment to help enhance your warehouse or supply chain? Are you worried your outdated systems may hold you back from modern technology? Feeling like you’re not sure where to start? Check out our free resources can put you on the path to an effective and functional supply chain management system. 

Want the latest supply chain insights? When you subscribe to PorterLogic’s newsletter, you’ll get a bimonthly analysis and rundown of the supply chain’s latest trends and challenges in your inbox. 

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