Free Essay

Material Handling Equipment

In: Business and Management

Submitted By soochakmeera
Words 6375
Pages 26
Operations Management

Materials Handling Equipments

INDEX Sr. No. | CONTENT | PAGE NO. | 1 | Introduction | 3 | 2 | Objectives / Roles | 5 | 3 | Types of Material Handling Equipment | 6 | 4 | Material Handling Principles | 9 | 5 | Scope of Material handling | 10 | 6 | Importance of Materials Handling | 12 | 7 | Conveyor system | 13 | 8 | Cranes | 17 | 9 | Elevators | 20 | 10 | Industrial Trucks | 26 | 11 | Robotics | 28 | 12 | Live Racks | 32 | 13 | Role of material handling in supply chain | 35 | 14 | New generation material handling system | 36 | 15 | Summary | 38 |

Introduction:
Material handling refers to efficient short-distance movement of goods that usually takes place within the confines of a building such as a plant or a warehouse or between a building and a transportation agency. Material Handling is the field concerned with solving the pragmatic problems involving the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the processes of cleaning, preparation, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal of all related materials, goods and their packaging.

The material handling industry manufactures and distributes the equipment and services required to implement material handling systems, from obtaining, locally processing and shipping raw materials to utilization of industrial feedstocks in industrial manufacturing processes. Material handling systems range from simple pallet rack and shelving projects, to complex conveyor belt and Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems from mining and drilling equipment to custom built barley malt drying rooms in breweries. Material handling can also consist of sorting and picking, as well as automatic guided vehicles. Material handling equipment is equipment that relate to the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. Material handling equipment is the mechanical equipment involved in the complete system.
Material handling equipment is generally separated into four main categories: storage and handling equipment, engineered systems, industrial trucks, and bulk material handling.
Material handling equipment is used to increase output, control costs, and maximize productivity. There are several ways to determine if the material handling equipment is achieving peak efficiency. These include capturing all relevant data related to the warehouse’s operation, measuring how many times an item is “touched” from the time it is ordered until it leaves the building, making sure you are using the proper picking technology, and keeping system downtime to a minimum. A special analytical data-set known as Stock-keeping units (SKUs) has been devised to aid analysis of materials handling, which is obviously less efficient when a material asset is handled any more than a minimally necessary number of times.

Objectives / Roles
1. Handling
The primary handling objective in a warehouse is to sort inbound shipment according to precise customer requirements. The three handling activities are receiving, in-storage handling and shipping.
2. Receiving
When material reaches the warehouse it has to be received by the warehouse. One of the important activities here is to unload the goods from the transportation vehicle. Most of the time unloading is done manually. Containerized or unit-load shipments considerably reduce the unloading time.
3. In-storage Handling
In-storage handling consists of all movement within a warehouse facility. The two types of in-storage handling are transfer and section. Various transfers of goods happen within the warehouse. The goods as soon as they are received in the warehouse are transferred to the storage area. The second transfer may be required during order selection where goods are transferred from storage area to order selection area. The final transfer of goods takes place when the goods are finally shipped from the warehouse. Here the goods are transferred from the or election to the shipping or outbound area. Selection activity basically involves selecting different materials and is grouped to meet the, customer demand. The idea of using warehouse as a selection area is to reduce the overall transportation cost.

Types of material handling equipment. 1. Storage and handling equipment
Storage and handling equipment is a category within the material handling industry. The equipment that falls under this description is usually non-automated storage equipment. Products such as pallet racking, shelving and carts, among others, belong to storage and handling. Many of these products are often referred to as "catalogue" items because they generally have globally accepted standards and are often sold as stock materials out of Material handling catalogues. 2. Engineered systems
Engineered systems are typically custom engineered material handling systems. Conveyors, Handling Robots, AS/RS, AGV and most other automated material handling systems fall into this category. Engineered systems are often a combination of products integrated to one system. Many distribution centres will optimize storage and picking by utilizing engineered systems such as pick modules and sortation systems. 3. Equipment and utensils
Equipment and utensils used for processing or otherwise handling edible product or ingredients must be of such material and construction to facilitate thorough cleaning and to ensure that their use will not cause the adulteration of product during processing, handling, or storage. Equipment and utensils must be maintained in sanitary condition so as not to adulterate or contaminate product.

4. Industrial trucks
Industrial trucks usually refer to operator driven motorized warehouse vehicles, powered manually, by gasoline, propane or electrically. Industrial trucks assist the material handling system with versatility; they can go where engineered systems cannot. Forklift trucks are the most common example of industrial trucks but certainly aren't the extent of the category. Tow tractors and stock chasers are additional examples of industrial trucks. Their greatest advantage lies in the wide range of attachments available; these increase the truck ability to handle various types and shapes of material. 5. Bulk material handling
Bulk material handling equipment is used to move and store bulk materials such as ore, liquids, and cereals. This equipment is often seen on farms, mines, shipyards and refineries. This category is also explained in Bulk material handling. 6. On-Rails Transfer Cart
On-rails transfer cart is a kind of material handling equipment. It moves on the rails and can transfer heavy cargoes or equipment with the weight 1-300t between the workshops or warehouses in the factory. It is widely used in the line of metallurgy, coal, heavy manufacturing, automotive assembly, etc. Its power can be AC or DC. DC Power has rail transmit power and battery power, while AC power includes cable power and slippery touch line power. In addition, there is the manual rail transfer cart or towed rail transfer cart, also called motorized transfer trolley.

7. Conveyors
Conveyors are another form of material handling. Conveyors can be used in a multitude of ways from warehouses to airport baggage handling systems. Some types of conveyors are unibilt, power and free, chain, towline and roller conveyor. 8. Cantilevered Crane Loading Platform
Cantilevered crane loading platforms are temporary platforms attached to the face of multi-storey buildings or structures to allow materials and equipment to be directly loaded on or shifted off floor levels by cranes during construction or demolition. They may be fixed or rolling and a variety of designs are used including fully fabricated and demountable types. The platforms are supported on needles (cantilevered beams) anchored to the supporting structure.
*
Material handling is an important element, which determines the productivity of a warehouse. Material handling is highly labour intensive as compared to any other operations in a warehouse. Therefore the personnel cost in material handling is usually high. Most of the activities in material handling require significant manual handling and hence has little benefits from computerization and improved information technology.

Material handling principles
The principles of materials handling which ensures effective and efficient handling of material are as follows: 1. Planning Principle: All material handling should be the result of a deliberate plan. Non-plan movement of materials should be avoided as far as possible. 2. Standardization Principle: Material handling equipment, controls, and software should be standardized. While standardizing it should be ensured that performance objectives and flexibility in operations are not sacrificed. 3. Work Principle: Material handling work should be minimized without sacrificing productivity. 4. Ergonomic Principle: human capabilities and limitations must be taken into consideration while designing material handling tasks and equipments. 5. Unit Load: Unit load should be properly determined so that it accommodates all materials and material handling becomes easier. 6. Space Utilization Principle: Effective and efficient use must be made of all available space. 7. System Principle: Material handling and storage should be fully integrated so that there is a smooth flow of materials in the warehouse. 8. Automation Principle: Material handling operations should be mechanized and/or automated where feasible in order to improve operational efficiency. This will reduce potentially unsafe manual labour operations. 9. Environmental Principle: Environmental impact and energy consumption such as petrol, diesel, should be considered as criteria when designing or selecting material handling systems. 10. Life Cycle Cost Principle: Cost of equipment throughout its entire lifecycle and not only its initial cost should be considered before selecting it.

Scope of Material handling:
Materials handling is spread over many different industries and fields of engineering,

1. Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the largest single field for applications of material handling where a wide range of materials handling equipments are used.
Materials handling problems involve surveys, plant and equipment layouts, routing, packaging and storage of materials.
2. Processing
Processing requires handling of bulk materials (like gases, liquids, semi-liquids and bulk solids). Special handling problems affect the plant design.
3. Construction
Construction needs proper receiving, sorting, storing and moving materials. In heavy construction projects, there is now a choice of special methods and equipments of materials handling. It influences the civil engineers in project planning.
4. Mining
In both underground mines and open pit operations, there is now a variety of equipment for extraction, handling and transportation of coal and ore. Cost of extracting the materials has been reduced to the minimum.
5. Power
Materials handling equipment for handling fuel and ash are needed.
6. Machine Tools
The design of many processing machines is influenced by the need for integrating various material handling features or attachments to modern machine mechanisms.

7. Truck building
The automotive engineer develops trucks and trailer as efficient materials handling vehicles, designed for speedy loading and unloading, ensure cargo is secured properly, and safe transportation of a variety of materials.
8. Rail road car builders
The above are involved in improved rail road cars, development of terminal equipment, improvement in materials handling procedure for loading and securing freight and transferring or unloading it at terminals.
9. Barge and Ship building
New handling devices and improved kinds of marine carriers are manufactured in this industry.
10. Aircraft
Better cargo and storage methods for air transport where materials handling is concerned.

IMPORTANCE OF MATERIALS HANDLING
The foremost importance of materials handling is that it helps productivity and thereby increases profitability of an industry. Many enterprises go out of business because of inefficient materials handling practices. In many instances it is seen that competing industries are using same or similar production equipment, and one who uses improved materials handling system stays ahead of their competitors.
A well designed materials handling system attempts to achieve the following:
(I) Improve efficiency of a production system by ensuring the right quantity of materials delivered at the right place at the right time most economically.
(ii) Cut down indirect labour cost.
(iii) Reduce damage of materials during storage and movement.
(iv) Maximise space utilization by proper storage of materials and thereby reduce storage and handling cost.
(v) Minimise accident during materials handling.
(vi) Reduce overall cost by improving materials handling.
(vii) Improve customer services by supplying materials in a manner convenient for handlings.
(viii) Increase efficiency and saleability of plant and equipment with integral materials handling features.

Conveyor system

A conveyor system is a common piece of mechanical handling equipment that moves materials from one location to another. Conveyors are especially useful in applications involving the transportation of heavy or bulky materials. Conveyor systems allow quick and efficient transportation for a wide variety of materials, which make them very popular in the material handling and packaging industries. Many kinds of conveying systems are available, and are used according to the various needs of different industries. There are chain conveyors (floor and overhead) as well. Chain conveyors consist of enclosed tracks, I-Beam, towline, power & free, and hand pushed trolleys.

Industries that use conveyor systems
Conveyor systems are used widespread across a range of industries due to the numerous benefits they provide. * Conveyors are able to safely transport materials from one level to another, which when done by human labour would be strenuous and expensive. * They can be installed almost anywhere, and are much safer than using a forklift or other machine to move materials. * They can move loads of all shapes, sizes and weights. Also, many have advanced safety features that help prevent accidents. * There are a variety of options available for running conveying systems, including the hydraulic, mechanical and fully automated systems, which are equipped to fit individual needs.
Conveyor systems are commonly used in many industries, including the automotive, agricultural, computer, electronic, food processing, aerospace, pharmaceutical, chemical, bottling and canning, print finishing and packaging. Although a wide variety of materials can be conveyed, some of the most common include food items such as beans and nuts, bottles and cans, automotive components, scrap metal, pills and powders, wood and furniture and grain and animal feed. Many factors are important in the accurate selection of a conveyor system. It is important to know how the conveyor system will be used beforehand. Some individual areas that are helpful to consider are the required conveyor operations, such as transportation, accumulation and sorting, the material sizes, weights and shapes and where the loading and pickup points need to be.

Conveyor systems are used widespread across a range of industries due to the numerous benefits they provide. * Conveyors are able to safely transport materials from one level to another, which when done by human labour would be strenuous and expensive. * They can be installed almost anywhere, and are much safer than using a forklift or other machine to move materials. * They can move loads of all shapes, sizes and weights. Also, many have advanced safety features that help prevent accidents. * There are a variety of options available for running conveying systems, including the hydraulic, mechanical and fully automated systems, which are equipped to fit individual needs.
Conveyor systems are commonly used in many industries, including the automotive, agricultural, computer, electronic, food processing, aerospace, pharmaceutical, chemical, bottling and canning, print finishing and packaging. Although a wide variety of materials can be conveyed, some of the most common include food items such as beans and nuts, bottles and cans, automotive components, scrap metal, pills and powders, wood and furniture and grain and animal feed. Many factors are important in the accurate selection of a conveyor system. It is important to know how the conveyor system will be used beforehand. Some individual areas that are helpful to consider are the required conveyor operations, such as transportation, accumulation and sorting, the material sizes, weights and shapes and where the loading and pickup points need to be.
Conveyor systems are used widespread across a range of industries due to the numerous benefits they provide. * Conveyors are able to safely transport materials from one level to another, which when done by human labour would be strenuous and expensive. * They can be installed almost anywhere, and are much safer than using a forklift or other machine to move materials. * They can move loads of all shapes, sizes and weights. Also, many have advanced safety features that help prevent accidents. * There are a variety of options available for running conveying systems, including the hydraulic, mechanical and fully automated systems, which are equipped to fit individual needs.
Conveyor systems are commonly used in many industries, including the automotive, agricultural, computer, electronic, food processing,[4] aerospace, pharmaceutical, chemical, bottling and canning, print finishing and packaging. Although a wide variety of materials can be conveyed, some of the most common include food items such as beans and nuts, bottles and cans, automotive components, scrap metal, pills and powders, wood and furniture and grain and animal feed. Many factors are important in the accurate selection of a conveyor system. It is important to know how the conveyor system will be used beforehand. Some individual areas that are helpful to consider are the required conveyor operations, such as transportation, accumulation and sorting, the material sizes, weights and shapes and where the loading and pickup points need to be.

CRANES
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes orchains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It is mainly used for lifting heavy things and transporting them to other places. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of a man. Cranes are commonly employed in the transport industry for the loading and unloading of freight, in the construction industry for the movement of materials and in the manufacturing industry for the assembling of heavy equipment.
Different Types of Cranes
Tower Crane
Different types of cranes exist depending on the particular job that needs to be completed. One of the most commonly seen cranes seen in cities is a tower crane. Tower cranes were initially developed in Europe and are now popular all over the world. A tower crane is used in the construction of tall buildings. This type crane can reach up to 265 feet, out to 230 feet, and lift a total of approximately 20 tons. Tower cranes are fixed to the ground during the construction period. A tower crane is always mounted over a strong concrete pad so that anchor bolts can be embedded into the pad, which hold the tower crane when it is lifting heavy loads.

Vehicle Mounted Cranes
Since cranes used on construction sites are usually temporary structures, sometimes they are mounted to vehicles so that they can be easily moved. Truck-mounted cranes are usually able to travel on highways. Therefore, additional equipment is not necessary to transport the crane to the job site. When the crane is then erected at the construction site, outriggers are extended horizontally from the base of the truck and then vertically to stabilize the crane.

Rough Terrain Crane
A rough terrain crane is a special type of truck-mounted crane. It is mounted to an undercarriage that has rubber tires specifically used for off-road applications. Outriggers are also used for stability with this type of crane.

Crawler Crane
A crawler crane is a mobile crane that does not require outriggers for stability. A crawler crane is mounted to a chassis with a set of tracks instead of tires and has a lifting capacity from 40 tons to 3500 tons. Although crawler cranes are mobile around a site, they usually need to be disassembled and loaded on to transport trucks for movement between sites.

Aerial Cranes
Aerial cranes are also called "sky cranes" as they are helicopters used exclusively to lift very heavy loads. These cranes are very useful in conditions where conventional cranes do not work. At a construction site, these cranes also help in disaster mitigation and risk relief programs.

Other types of mobile cranes used in construction are floating cranes. Floating cranes are usually used in waterway construction such as bridges, ports, and dams. Floating cranes are either mounted on pontoons or on special barges.
These are the typical cranes used in construction. Other types of cranes do exist, though. For example, fixed cranes usually have the ability to lift and carry greater loads due to their increased stability. Cranes are also used inside manufacturing plants to assemble equipment. Cranes in manufacturing plants are usually overhead cranes that move along beams which give support in lifting. Finally, sidelifter cranes are specifically designed to load containers for trucks or railway vehicles. The lifting is performed with parallel crane-like hoists.

ELEVATORS
The elevator (or lift in the Commonwealth excluding Canada) is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors (levels, decks) of a building, vessel or other structure. Elevators are generally powered by electric motors. In agriculture and manufacturing, an elevator is any type of conveyor device used to lift materials in a continuous stream into bins or silos. Several types exist, such as the chain and bucketbucket elevator, grain auger screw conveyor using the principle of Archimedes' screw, or the chain and paddles/forks of hay elevators.
There are three main types of elevators commonly used: traction with a machine room, machine-room-less traction, and hydraulic; however, there are variations on each type.

Hydraulic Elevators
Hydraulic elevators are supported by a piston at the bottom of the elevator that pushes the elevator up. They are used for low-rise applications of 2-8 stories and travel at a maximum speed of 200 feet per minute. The machine room for hydraulic elevators is located at the lowest level adjacent to the elevator shaft.
Conventional Hydraulic Elevators have a sheave that extends below the floor of the elevator pit, which accepts the retracting piston as the elevator descends. Some configurations have a telescoping piston that collapses and requires a shallower hole below the pit. Max travel distance is approximately 60 feet.
Hole-less Hydraulic Elevators have a piston on either side of the cab. In this configuration, the telescoping pistons are fixed at the base of the pit and do not require a sheave or hole below the pit. Telescoping pistons allow up to 50 feet of travel distance. Non-telescoping pistons only allow about 20 feet of travel distance.
Roped Hydraulic Elevators use a combination of ropes and a piston to move the elevator. Maximum travel distance is about 60 feet.
Hydraulic elevators have a low initial cost and their ongoing maintenance costs are lower compared to the other elevator types. However, hydraulic elevators use more energy than other types of elevators.

Geared and Gearless Traction Elevators with Machine Room
Traction elevators are lifted by ropes, which pass over a wheel attached to an electric motor above the elevator shaft. They are used for mid and high-rise applications and have much higher travel speeds than hydraulic elevators. A counter weight makes the elevators more efficient.
Geared Traction Elevators have a gearbox that is attached to the motor, which drives the wheel that moves the ropes. Geared traction elevators are capable of travel speeds up to 500 feet per minute. The maximum travel distance for a geared traction elevator is around 250 feet.
Gear-less Traction Elevators have the wheel attached directly to the motor. Gear-less traction elevators are capable of speeds up to 2,000 feet per minute and they have a maximum travel distance of around 2,000 feet so they are the only choice for high-rise applications.
Geared traction elevators are middle of the road in terms of initial cost, ongoing maintenance costs, and energy consumption. Gear-less traction elevators have a high initial cost, medium ongoing maintenance costs, and use energy a bit more efficiently than geared traction elevators.

Machine-Room-Less (MRL) Elevators
Machine-Room-Less Elevators are traction elevators that do not have a dedicated machine room above the elevator shaft. The machine sits in the override space and is accessed from the top of the elevator cab when maintenance or repairs are required. The control boxes are located in a control room that is adjacent to the elevator shaft on the highest landing and within around 150 feet of the machine.
Machine-room-less elevators have a maximum travel distance of up to 250 feet and can travel at speeds up to 500 feet-per-minute. MRL elevators are comparable to geared traction elevators in terms of initial and maintenance costs, but they have relatively low energy consumption compared to geared elevators.
Machine-room-less elevators are becoming the most popular choice for mid-rise buildings where the travel distance is up to 250 feet. They are energy efficient, require less space, and their operation and reliability are on par with gear-less traction elevators.

Industrial Trucks * Used to move materials over variable (horizontal) paths with no restrictions on the area covered (i.e., unrestricted area) * Provide vertical movement if the truck has lifting capabilities * Used when there is insufficient (or intermittent) flow volume such that the use of a conveyor cannot be justified * Provide more flexibility in movement than conveyors and cranes * Not licensed to travel on public roads—"commercial trucks" are licensed to travel on public roads
Characteristics:
* Pallet/Non-Pallet: Does the truck have forks for handling pallets, or does the truck have a flat surface on which to place loads. Non-Pallet => (usually) other means required to load truck. * Manual/Powered: Does the truck have manual or powered vertical (lifting) and/or horizontal (travel) movement capabilities. Manual => walk => operator provides the force needed for lifting loads and/or pushing the vehicle. Powered => on-board power source (e.g., batteries) used for lifting and/or travel. * Walk/Ride: For non-automated trucks, can the operator ride on the truck (in either a standing or sitting position) or is the operator required to walk with the truck during travel. Walk => manual or powered travel possible => powered travel speed limited to a normal walking pace. Ride => powered => travel speed can be faster than a walking pace. * Stack/No Stack: Can the truck be used to lift loads for stacking purposes. Stack => can also be used as no stack => more expensive to add stacking capability. No Stack may lift a load a few inches to clear the floor for subsequent travel (e.g., pallet jack), but the loads cannot be stacked on top of each other or on shelves. * Narrow Aisle: Is the lift truck designed to have a small turning radius or does it not have to turn at all in an aisle when loading/unloading. Narrow Aisle => greater cost and (usually) standing operator => less aisle space required. Counterbalance and/or straddle used for load support. Small turning radius => load support via straddle or reaching capabilities. No turning required => even narrower aisle => only one-side loading (sideloaders) or the capability to rotate the load (turret truck). * Automated: Is the truck automated so that it can transport loads without requiring an operator. Non-Automated => direct labour cost of operator is by far the largest cost to operate a non-automated truck. Semi-Automated => operator used to control loading/unloading, but automated transport control (e.g., the S/R machine of a Man-on-board AS/RS). Automated => Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) => no direct labour cost, but higher equipment costs. *
Robotics
One of the fastest-growing methods of materials handling is the use of robots. The robot is a machine that can be programmed to perform one or more handling activities without the intervention of an attendant or driver. Initial attention to robotics resulted from attempts in the early 1980s to employ limited-function stationary robots in automotive assembly. The automotive experiment was less than a total success. However, a great deal of advancement in robotics has occurred over the past 30 years. The primary use of robotics today is materials handling in both manufacturing and warehouse operating environments.
Robotics are increasingly being used in many different handling environments. Initially, robotic applications were attractive as replacements for manual labour in highly repetitive situations. For example early robotic applications were in palletizing, order selection, and routine material handling situations. A primary benefit of robotics is their sustainable performance accuracy. Economic justification of robotics is typically driven by some combination of five factors: (1) space limitations; (2) faster order to delivery cycle time requirements; (3) predictable and substantial throughput volume; (4) high labour costs; and/or (5) restrictive work environments such as frozen food warehouse order selection.
Recent years have witnessed significant advancements in the development of flexibility in robotic applications. Genco, a 3PL specializing in reverse logistics, is testing the use of operator-less lift trucks. The potential benefit is the ability to sustain continuous utilization. Other applications gaining popularity are inbound merchandise put-a-way and order selection in frozen food distribution centres. In both examples, the use of robots reduces exposure of workers to the low temperature maintained in the working environment.
Diapers.com is a firm that has built a business model in part around the use of robotic handlers referred to as “Orange Machines.” An e-commerce business, Diapers.com maintains a 200,000 square foot section of their distribution warehouse that is filled with merchandise racks. The robots are short, orange, rectangular machines (referred to as orange tortoises) that lift and deliver merchandise storage racks to order pickers. The order pickers are located at selection and packing stations around the perimeter of the building. The racks are lifted and transported to the order pickers by unmanned robots. Upon arrival, the pickers select the desired merchandise, pack the merchandise into shipping cartons, and push them on conveyors into outbound trucks. The Diapers.com selection fleet contains 260 different robots, each weighing about 300 pounds. Each has the ability to lift 3,000 pounds of racks and merchandise.3
The long-term potential for the application of robots throughout the supply chain is promising. Almost any handling task that involves repetitive movements is a candidate for either automation or robotic processing. When the activity is stationary, such as palletizing or de-palletizing cartons of merchandize, the likely solution will be some form of automation. When the work task involves horizontal movement in multiple directions, the application is likely to involve some form of robotics.
In the longer term, it is likely that limited forms of driverless vehicles will increase in utilization. Pilotless airborne drones are increasingly being used in military operations as attack weapons and for surveillance. Semi-trucks have successfully been driven without drivers in the truck both within yard operations and for limited distances on public roads. While this form of robotics requires combined human and technology interaction, the range of potential applications seems unlimited. Of particular interest to future supply chain operations is the growing combination of physicians and robots in medical surgery. In selected surgical procedures, experienced physicians provide guidance and make critical decisions during the operation. The robot, a precise machine, is instructed by the physician to follow a specific routine and complete in sequence precise surgical procedures. Of course medical expertise is available in the operating facility to assist and complete the pre- and post-surgical protocols. An important point for future supply chain logistics applications is the potential generated by the fact that the physician and the robot do not have to be at the same physical location to complete a successful medical procedure. To capture this extended deployment, wherein expert knowledge is combined with robotic capability, we have adopted the term probotics.
Significant potential exists for increased use of robotics in warehousing and material handlings. Of particular interest are the applications that are extending the potential of probotics beyond the warehouse and factory walls.

Live Racks
A device commonly used to reduce manual labour in warehouses is storage rack design in which product automatically flows to a selection position. The typical live rack contains roller conveyors and is constructed for loading from the rear. The rear of the rack is elevated higher than the front, causing a gravity flow toward the front. When cartons or unit loads are removed from the front, all other cartons or loads in that specific rack flow forward.
The use of the live rack reduces the need to use lift trucks to transfer unit loads. A significant advantage of live rack storage is the potential for automatic rotation of product as a result of rear loading. Rear loading facilitates first-in, first-out (FIFO)inventory management. Applications of gravity flow racks are varied. For example, live racks are typically utilized to sequence palletized fresh bread for shipping from bakeries.

Forklift truck
A forklift truck (also called a lift truck, a fork truck, or a forklift) is a powered industrial truck used to lift and transport materials. The modern forklift was developed in the 1960s by various companies including the transmission manufacturing company Clark and the hoist company Yale & Towne Manufacturing. The forklift has since become an indispensable piece of equipment in manufacturing and warehousing operations.

Cost
The cost of a new forklift can vary between £10,000 to in excess of £100,000, dependent on the model and in particular the capacity of the forklift. The most common forklifts are typically gas powered and have a capacity of between 2 and 2.5 tonnes. The cost of these varies from around £13,000, for some of the less well known Chinese manufactured forklifts, up to around £16,500, for the German forklifts from well established manufacturers; it is important to take into account fuel and maintenance costs when calculating the the total cost of ownership.

Role of material handling in supply chain
In the last several years material handling has become a new, complex, and rapidly evolving science. For moving material in and out of warehouse many types of equipment and system are in use, depending on the type of products and volume to be handled. The equipment is used, in loading and unloading operations, for movement of goods over short distances. The handling of material in warehouse is restricted to unitized forms, which require smaller size equipment. However, for bulk handling of material at logistics nodes such as shipyards, ports and airports different type of equipment is used. In warehouses, material handling operation is performed at the following stages:
· Unloading the incoming material from transport vehicle.
· Moving the unloaded material to assigned storage place in warehouses.
· Lifting the material from its storage place during order picking.
· Moving the material for inspection and packing.
· Loading packages/boxes/cartons on to transport vehicles.
The efficiency of material handling equipments adds to the performance level of the warehouse. The internal movement of goods has a direct bearing on the order picking and fulfilment cycle. The warehouse, wherein the material handling equipments is in use, is more sensitive to labour productivity than the manufacturing centre as material handling is more labour intensive. There is a scope for reducing labour and enhancing productivity by emerging technology in material handling. A good material handling system will enhance the speed and throughput of material movement through the supply chain.

New generation material handling system

The new-generation material handling system are highly automated system based on latest technologies, provided with flexibility capable of changing its own structure or function in response to changes from manufacturing systems, and autonomous functions to enhance system reliability. Such system is defined as “MMHS -Metamorphic Material Handling System”.
MMHS Project was the fifth international R&D project in IMS program, and it was to contribute to industries, optimize life cycle of equipment, produce a system most suited to the global environment, and respect humanity through research and development activities. MMHS project perform research and development activities focusing on the following four Points.

• Life cycle optimization
• Environmentally conscious manufacturing
• User-friendliness
• Contribution to global industry productivity
Subjects and objectives of MMHS project conceived from this viewpoint were as follows.
Responsive: Responsive to changes that may take place in manufacturing technology and environment, type of product or material to be handled, work schedule and load.
• Flexible: Capable of transforming itself and altering its function to meet any change in handling requirements.
• Autonomous: Able to make decisions on its own (to enhance system availability).
• Highly automatic: Incorporated with next-generation automation technology
• Multi-functional: Having such functions as assembling, packaging and disassembling, besides transporting.Figure:Metamorphic Material Handling System
(Source: Project Report MMHS Intelligent Manufacturing June 2003, Intelligent Manufacturing Systems)
• Modularized: Composed of various modules, each with a distinct function; e.g. planning module, basic module, tool-setting module, communication module, capable of associating or dissociating one another to organize themselves into a configuration as required
• Multi-level: Designed into multi-level sub-systems so as to be capable of cooperating other independent material-handling equipment including AGVs and mobile robots
• Compatible: Capable of adapting itself to other existing material-handling systems

Summary :
The material handling is important activity in the logistics system. The speed of the material flow across the supply chain depends on the type of the material handling equipment and the sophistication in the system. In the logistics operation the material handling system is designed in and around the warehouse. Commonly, the following material handling operations are performed in the warehouse, unloading the incoming material from transport equipment, moving the unloaded material to the assigned storage place, lift the material from its storage place during order picking, move the material for inspection and packing, and load the packages on to the transport vehicle. These operations are performed using manual, mechanized or computerized controlled material handling equipment. The mechanized system shifts the fatigue to machine and brings effectiveness to human efforts. The selection of the appropriate system depends on the factors such as volumes to be handled, speed in handling, product characteristics (weight, size, shape) and nature of the product (hazardous, perishable, crushable). The prime consideration before going in for mechanized material handling systems is the layout of the warehouse. The investment in the material handling system will be sheer waste if it is not compatible to the warehouse layout plan. The layout will create the obstacles for the free movement of equipment and the goods. The mechanized equipment requires the space for the free movement across the warehouse. They should have the accessibility to storage area for material loading and unloading during storage and retrieval. In the mechanized version the variety of equipment are used for the specific application. The range covers common types are wheeled trolleys, forklift trucks, conveyors, cranes, towlines and carousal etc. The more sophisticated systems such as robotics, automatic storage & retrieval and automatic guided vehicles systems are used in semi or fully automatic warehouses for speedy material movement.

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