How to Increase Material Handling Productivity

Worker in protective uniform in front of forkliftEveryone agrees that time is a valuable resource, no matter how you spend it. In life, it often pays to relax, as the body requires downtime. Other times, the body needs exercise. It’s about balance and efficiency, for the most part. The same holds true for any business. There’s a certain amount of work that needs to be done. Too much can mean overworked employees, too little means profits suffer. Therefore, achieving the right amount of productivity is a crucial part of every operation. A quick look around your shop can show you potential areas of improved efficiency. If you think you’d like your company to be able to work faster, safer, and more efficiently without having to add labor hours, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find some ways to increase material handling productivity.


Having the Right Equipment

It might seem obvious, but the importance of using the correct material handling equipment is sometimes overlooked. Not all forklifts are created equal, and each is designed to make certain tasks easier. For example, if you’re outfitting a high-throughput application, machines with faster lift/lower and travel speeds can help get jobs done quicker. Do any of your operators get on and off the truck all day? A stand-up rider would be a smarter choice than a sit-down forklift for any worker who gets up and down more than 10 times in an hour. You’ll operators will be able to work in narrow spaces quickly and efficiently when operating forklifts with shorter footprints. Trying to get in and out of confined areas can take up valuable time.


Using the Right Forklift Model for the Job

On a similar note, making sure you have the best material handling equipment models available to your workers, as well as any additional productivity-boosting attachments is key. When operators don’t have to spend time trying to manipulate what few tools they have to get the job done, the more actual work they can do. Selecting machines that offer optional enhancement features such as auto-tilt leveling, fork tip lasers and cameras, and height indicators gives operators the confidence that whatever they need for a job is readily available to them. Even something as easy as having a side shifter or side shifting fork positioner on hand can make handling each load much easier. However, keep in mind that all clamps, rotator, side shifter, and the like have limitations and the correct attachment type and model need to be paired. To maintain the kind of safety standards your business requires, as well as productivity, things such as hydraulic speeds, carriage size, and visibility are all factors to consider when selecting the machine as well as the attachment. Both OSHA and ANSI require documentation from the forklift manufacturer as well, for any modifications that affect capacity, stability, and safety. If an additional forklift sounds like a great idea for your business, but it’s simply not in the budget, consider buying used. National Forklift Exchange has tons of cost-effective options to choose from, as well as knowledgeable professionals who can help you find just the right model.


Keeping Equipment in Top Shape

This is easier said than done, there’s no doubt about that. But if you want to keep your workers safe and increase material handling productivity, routine maintenance is essential. Time seems to fly by, and before we know it, 6 months, 1 year, 18 months have disappeared. Because you already have a lot on your plate, schedule routine checks in advance for all your equipment with an in-house specialist or an outside professional. Keep records of work that’s been done, because over time it will become easier to predict and therefore budget for additional maintenance you may need down the line. Ensuring a healthier forklift fleet will go a long way to maximize your productivity.


Warehouse Layout to Maximize Efficiency

Making changes to your material handling equipment isn’t the only way to improve productivity. As business either grows or changes, accommodations sometimes have to be made to the layout of your facility. New products, services, and activities may require different protocols, storage methods, and racking designs than how your facility currently runs. They may even require a completely different facility. Take a look at your long-term needs, because transportation time, for example, to get goods to their destinations might be a great way to cut time and make each day more productive.

There you have it. Take a look at your day-to-day operations and make note of some of the ways you may be wasting time. How the work gets done easily becomes routine, and periodically that routine needs a reboot. If an additional forklift seems necessary for you to increase material handling productivity, contact us today!


About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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