Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Material Handling Technology

Systems Approach Physical distribution is a term applied to a systems concept that comprises the entire spectrum of materials movement. The system begins with the storage and handling of raw materials and follows right on through the packaging and disposition of the finished product. The aim is the attainment of the lowest overall cost for the system as a whole, comprising the expenses borne by the manufacturer, transport carrier, warehouse, distributor, and customer.

Even the manner in which the customer will handle the product is often taken into account. Two main benefits accrue from a systems approach to materials handling and packaging. First, a trade-off of investment and operating costs is made possible; higher costs in some parts of a system become permissible in return for much lower costs in other parts. The net result is usually the lowest overall cost. If this is not the case, the reasons for incurring the higher costs can be identified and justified. The second benefit is that customers are not offended by ill-conceived packages, delivery vehicles, or product characteristics.

Mathematical modeling, using digital computers, aids in performing a systems-type analysis for either the entire system or parts of it. By means of integer or linear-programming techniques, optimum systems can be identified. The dynamic performance of these can then be determined by simulation techniques.

Determining the capacities of material-handling and packaging equipment is a primary consideration. Many interacting variables often are involved, such as an ever-changing or intermittent material delivery rate, the capacity of intermediate storage and receiver bins, random stoppage or failure of equipment in the system, and the setup and cleanup time between product grades or blends. Variables frequently interact in such complex ways that conventional capacity analyses are impossible, especially if the interaction varies with time.

Under such conditions the question of whether the system will deliver the required output can be answered only by simulation techniques. Even when a total system analysis is unnecessary, the methodology of mathematical modeling is useful, because by considering each component of a system as a block of a flow sheet, the interrelationships become much clearer. Additional alternatives often become apparent, as does the need for more equipment-performance data.
Capacity Definitions In any analysis, the capacity per unit time of dynamic equipment (such as conveyors and bagging machines), as well as the rates at which they actually perform, must be defined more precisely and realistically than by a mere statement of kilograms or pounds per hour. Some useful definitions employed by the equipment industry are the following:

Instantaneous Rate This is a short-term rate when the equipment operates at the design rate or faster. Typical is the average weight handled over a short period of time, not exceeding 5 min.
Hourly Rate This intermediate rate takes into account equipment stoppages due principally to mechanical downtime rather than the equipment's idle time while it waits for action by other parts of the system.

Shift Rate A long-term rate, this reflects all causes of downtime, including idle time. Thus, the average per shift will vary, but by examining its range the practical capacity can be determined. Production time lost due to scheduling of the equipment affects the shift rate. On certain days the equipment has a shift rate close to the hourly rate, while on other days this rate is only half of the hourly rate. Examination of the reasons for this difference often identifies scheduled events as being responsible: the equipment was shut down for cleanup between product grades, product was unavailable for packaging because a bulk order had to be filled, or the product scheduled had a production rate which was half of the products normally made. These capacity definitions are used to define responsibilities of both vendors and buyers. For instance, often a vendor is called in to examine a piece of equipment that does not perform at the "guaranteed" rate.

Records of shift production are offered as proof. Yet the vendor then makes a test and shows that the guaranteed rate is met over a short interval. Who is correct? By defining rates the engineer responsible for the installation not only can avoid these situations but can obtain a better appreciation of potential plant situations.

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