interesting to note that
in companies with a history
of maintaining the state-of-the-art
in application of material
handling system technologies,
projects are originated
with professionals who
have that responsibility.
do you say? Send
us your comments here
In my many years of experience in the materials handing industry, it’s always been true that a company’s executive-level officers play a key role in the successful development and implementation of any material handling improvement project.
The corporate attitude towards material handling operations starts with upper management challenging operating management to find creative solutions to material handling issues. They want projects that will provide an ROI in areas such as:
- Improved output in manufacturing and distribution
- Reduction in space needed for handling and storage
- Reduction of in-process inventory
- Labor savings
- Improved service to customers
- Reduction in errors, damage, shrinkage, and back charges
However, the above benefits will not be realized unless senior management actively promotes an environment that encourages Project Champions to come forward with creative improvement projects.
I believe that this point cannot be emphasized too strongly. Too often, astute individuals who are eager to start projects involving the application of advanced concepts in material handling technology are discouraged by middle managers who tell them that it’s “too risky - the front office won’t buy it."
To correct this impression, top management must spell out long-range objectives in terms that mean something to facilities planners, industry consultants, and system integrators, and in such detail that they can implement those objectives. A chief executive or other company leader who has never received even a preliminary proposal involving creative approaches to material handling issues should look for answers to the following questions:
- Is the company’s strength in sales and marketing, or in product development, design, and manufacturing, with little or no expertise in managing the storage and flow of product thru the operation?
- Has the company’s approach to material handling remained static even though growth has been dynamic?
- Is there any indication that operating managers automatically turn off discussion of material handling improvement projects involving application of advanced technologies?
- Is the company’s IT department adequately staffed to handle such projects?
It’s interesting to note that in companies with a history of maintaining the state-of-the-art in application of material handling system technologies, projects are originated with professionals who have that responsibility. They may be internal to the company operating at the VP level, or an outside resource operating as a trusted advisor.
Fortunately, the track record of material handling system successes has been very good over the last decade or so, which has gone a long way towards overcoming the FUD factor – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. It is important to understand that while your business is unique, the system concepts and equipment technology that will be most beneficial for your operation is not new. It is most likely providing cost and operational benefits to your competitors’ everyday.