Material handling can be defined as art and science of conveying, elevating, positioning, transporting, packaging and storing of materials. Starting from the time, the raw material enters the mill gate and goes out of the mill gate in the form of finished products; it is handled at all stages within mill boundaries such as within and between raw material stores, various section of the production department, machine to machine and finished product stores.
Proper material handling offers benefits :
The Indian material handling sector has observed a momentous growth in recent years, which is chiefly brought about by rising investment in infrastructure development, increased demand for higher automation, and safe working practices in the manufacturing area.
Estimated cost of handling against production
India is evolving as a vital market for material handling equipment, with the growth in the number of warehouses and container freight stations. This leads to the enhancement in demand for MHE, such as, forklifts, stackers and reach trucks. In fact, the market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10% from 2016 through 2020. Besides, with the global industry heading towards Industry 4.0 and the anticipated advance in sectors like, automotive, the material handling equipment sector will continue to flourish.
Although in the market a large variety of material handling equipment available in which some are very conventional and some are modern. Modern material handling equipment is economical, safer and can handle more material in unit time than conventional equipment. The material handling department basically performs two functions: eliminates the need of material handling as for as possible by choosing appropriate production machinery, and choose the most appropriate material handling equipment which is safe, efficient and economical. The selection of material handling mainly depends upon Type material to be handled, mill building, layout, speed & type of production (mass prodn or batch production) and material flow pattern. There are two most important factors for analyzing or solving a material handling problem are Engineering factors and Economic factors.
With the prospects for material handling sector being very bright in India, the sector has the latest trends, in terms of advanced technologies, to embrace and look into. Productivity, safety and reliability continue to be the main drivers that determine the specifications of material handling equipment. Material handling being fundamentally a non-value added activity, the demand is for high productivity systems that reduce the per unit cost and time spent in moving the goods from one place to another.
The current trends in the industry focus on increasing productivity by means of higher capacities and speeds. Hence, a lot of thrust is being given on enhancing the safety features on equipment by ensuring safety of the operators, the material being handled and the infrastructure. Reliability, the third cornerstone, is being addressed by leveraging new age technologies like, IoT, in order to ensure that timely maintenance takes place before a catastrophic breakdown.
Another trend in material handling equipment is the growing popularity of voice-recognition systems. As the production processes gets more evolved and with increased exposure of the Indian industrialists to modern manufacturing techniques and global best practices, there is a definite shift towards adoption of newer technologies for industries as well.
The size of the Indian warehousing industry (across commodities and modes) is pegged at about INR 560 billion (excluding inventory carrying costs, which amount to another INR 4,340 billion). In fact, in 2017, the Indian MHE market witnessed a growth of around 20% on a year-to-year basis, which was doubled in 2018 to around 40%. For the near future, the growth projection for the electric counterbalance and warehouse equipment segment is also high. In addition, the advanced techniques of cargo handling, growth in the port sector, and the increasing e-commerce, as well as increasing lack of space, will be other drivers of the MHE market growth.
Given the current exuberance seen across the Indian industry over the past year, the material handling industry is seeing a host of activities. The demand for material handling equipment across different industry verticals has grown quite healthily in the past 12 months. The increase in consumption, changes in lifestyles and unwillingness to do menial jobs will lead to the growth of the material handling industry, these factors, in conjunction with the Government’s “Make in India’’ initiative, are expected to spur local manufacturing. This will lead to the setting-up of new facilities requiring forklifts in order to support its operations. In addition, the immense growth being witnessed in the warehousing sector to support the booming e-commerce and modern retail sectors will be another key driver for growth in the industry.