There is no best criterion to perform material handling activities successfully. But if material handling is planned and well-integrated with production activities, it results in maximum overall operating efficiency.
Material can be moved either manually or with the help of slings, or other handling instruments. Material can also be moved by people using machines such as forklift trucks, and other lifting fixtures (mechanical lifting). It does not directly add value to the product but adds to the final cost.
Thus, material handling function includes all types of movements within the retail stores. These materials are of various types, shapes and size. At each stage of selling materials are loaded and unloaded are travel widely inside the store.
Manual material handling operations are carried out in most retail stores because the goods comparatively belong to FMCG sector and these are light in weight. But in case of electronics furniture/luxury retailing, manual lifting can spoil the goods/items meant for sale. As when these items collide with each other, they can create hazards that result in injuries.
A load may be hazardous because of the following reasons:
(i) Absent or inappropriate handles
(ii) Ill-shape (making it awkward to handle)
(iii) Imbalance (i.e., changing centre of gravity)
(iv) Improper temperature
(v) Size (very small/big)
(vi) Slippery or damaged surfaces and
Worker characteristics that affect the handling of loads include:
A. General health includes:
B. Physical factors
C. Pre-existing musculoskeletal problems
D. Psychological factors include:
This principle implies that a store should always compare the cost justification of selected/short listed equipment’s by its economic life and effectiveness when measured in terms of rupee per unit handled.
- Amortize the equipment/machinery within a reasonable period of time. (Amortization Principle)
- Selection of equipment for total lowest cost. (Economic Principle)
- Calculate your handling cost in advance (Handling Cost Appraisal)
A material handling is the system developed and accepted for controlling the investments in inventory. The investment in material handling is normally soaring in most of the retail stores. Material handling is a broad concept which includes merchandise buying, retail positioning, selling and distribution. With proper planning and control, the material handling complications can be drastically solved.
This requires a system approach and it should include the followings:
- Shifting materials from one place to another within the store while considering limitations related to material safety, floor damage and loss. (Gravity principle)
- Arrange and move the materials in unit loads rather than on individual basis. (Unit load handling principle)
- Re-handling and backtracking movements should be avoided. Therefore, need is to prepare an operational plan and positioning blueprint for the entire feasible solutions. It will help in selection of alternate arrangements that best integrate resources and capabilities. (Flow of Materials principles)
Efficient material handling is the result of efficient planning. Planning not only involves the strategic objectives of the organization but also the existing methods and problems, physical and economic constraints, and future requirements and goals. Therefore, retailers should plan a detailed layout which includes retail’s basic requirements, various alternates, and the emergency plans for all possible activities related to material handling and storage.
It also includes following supportive principles such as:
- To effectively utilized the available space in the best possible manner. (Space Utilization Principle)
- Preparation and selection of best operational sequence and layout with regard to shelves, racks, and cabins which includes the store’s possible operations and has potential of arranging material in an effective way. (Layout Principle)
- Delegate planning responsibility of material handling to a separate department/ person. (Delegation of Responsibility Principle)
- To minimize unpleasant effects on the environment while selecting any material handling devise or equipment. (Ecology Principle)
Material handling equipment is used for the movement and storage of material within a store. There are several types of equipment available, whose suitability depends on several factors like nature of job, load capacity, ease of operation, speed of operation, space available etc.
Equipment principle can basically be described as:
- Opting those techniques and equipment which are able to perform a number of operations and tasks at a time without disturbing other arrangements. (Flexibility Principle)
- Select appropriate material handling equipment to ensure safe working conditions. (Safety principle)
- To standardize material handling techniques and equipment in the store whenever and wherever deemed fit. (Standardization Principle)
- Be ready with a preventive maintenance plan and pending repairs for all material handling equipment’s. Purpose is that prevention is always better then cure. (Maintenance Principle)
- To mechanize the material handling methods whenever it is feasible and to increase store’s economy and efficiency. (Mechanization Principle)
- Organize a long term and cost effective for replacing obsolete and abandoned techniques and methods. This will result in increased efficiency and increased productivity. (Obsolescence Principle)
- Make handling simple that should eliminate wastes, accidents, errors and omissions by separating or combining some homogeneous activities. (Simplification Principle)