Regardless of the product manufactured or the size of the facility, food man- ufacturers are constantly looking for
ways to increase the overall efficiency of their
facilities. When it comes to materials handling,
equipment should improve productivity by
allowing finished goods, components and raw
materials to be handled in the most efficient
manner, while helping operators remain both
comfortable and safe. In light of food manu-
facturers’ materials handling challenges, there
are a number of measures facility managers
should consider when looking for ways to
Determine Equipment Fit
The lift truck should be selected based on
not only the specific application, but also the
facility itself – this avoids a “one size fits all”
approach. For example, placing a larger four-
wheel, sit-down electric lift truck in an envi-
ronment better suited for a smaller lift truck
can cost the manufacturer dearly. Not only
may the purchase price be higher, but the unit
is more likely to cause damage to the facility
and product, along with damaging itself as
Handling Efficiency in 2015
By Michael Moran, Warehouse Industry Manager, Yale Materials Handling Corporation
Maintaining material handling equipment requires an investment of time
and money. However, the alternative cost for not maintaining equipment
will be much higher since it will lead to the following issues: lost productivity, prematurely retiring equipment and the need to replace equipment.
Regular maintenance pays dividends as it enables you to extend the
life of your material handling equipment so that you realize a greater
return on your investment over its lifetime.
The following are five ways to help your material handling equipment
1. Train Your Employees: When employees don’t know how to properly operate a piece of equipment, they may subject it to applications for
which it was not designed. The equipment is more likely to wear out or
require maintenance prematurely. More so, employees who are not properly trained can put themselves, and others, at risk of injury.
Training is especially important for preparing employees to work with
new technology with which they have not previously had experience.
In addition to providing training, it is recommended that you establish
protocols for assessing each employee’s mastery of the equipment before
certifying them to use the equipment on the job. Provide refresher training, especially when a piece of equipment is upgraded with new features
2. Observe and Communicate: Supervisors should talk daily with
equipment operators to see if they notice any changes in the way equipment is operating. This way, the material handling equipment can be
quickly and proactively addressed so that issues do not get out of hand.
Employee training should stress the importance of reporting equipment
In addition, damage to equipment should be reported as soon as it is
discovered. The goal is to limit the severity of damage so that repairs are
neither costly nor extensive.
3. Follow Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Instructions:
When it comes to maintaining material handling equipment, the OEM
knows best. Maintenance requirements may vary from one brand/model
of equipment to the next since designs and constructions differ. “One
size” of maintenance protocols does not necessarily fit all pieces of
4. Preventive Maintenance: A comprehensive preventive maintenance
program can help you avoid unscheduled downtime due to equipment
breakdowns. A good preventive maintenance program allows you to
schedule downtime to service equipment and replace wearing parts
before they fail and disrupt your productivity, particularly during peak
Preventive maintenance also helps you avoid the high cost of emergency repairs, enables you to keep your equipment operating at optimal
efficiency and pays you back with as much serviceable life from your
equipment as possible.
Another dividend of regular equipment maintenance is maintaining
good relations with your customers, as you’ll stay on schedule and deliver
While it may cost you up front, preventive maintenance will end up
costing you less than running equipment to failure — to the point that it
shortens the serviceable life of your equipment and requires expensive
repair or replacement.
Well-maintained equipment also pays off in improved efficiency of
material handling operations and safety.
5. Predictive Maintenance: A predictive maintenance program is a
good complement to a preventive maintenance program. By monitoring
use of your equipment (the hours and types of use it undergoes) you can
better keep track of when service should be performed and when parts
are nearing the end of their expected lifetime and ultimately need to be
replaced. Monitoring can be done manually or by means of automated
systems. Automated systems will provide real time updates regarding the
condition of your equipment either through your computer or smartphone.
As a bonus, another option for extending the serviceable life of your
equipment is retrofitting the equipment with the latest technology. New
technology that wasn’t available when you originally bought the equipment can boost its efficiency and value to your operations. A retrofit can
adapt the equipment to new processes in your facility and extend the
useful lifetime of the equipment for your business.
About the author: Jerry Matos is a Product Specialist at Cherry’s
Industrial Equipment, the leading manufacturer and supplier of material
handling and industrial equipment that will meet the warehouse needs of
plant managers across a variety of industries.
By Jerry Matos, Product Specialist, Cherry's Industrial Equipment
5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Material Handling Equipment