Increasing Material Flow Efficiency in Your Supply Chain

Dec 20, 2017

Modern supply chains are fast, with most company’s success dependent on their ability to efficiently move parts from around the world to, and throughout, manufacturing facilities.  Products move from a raw material state to the end user quicker than they ever have, yet the demand for speed is only increasing.

Consumer expectations for choice and customization only add to the pressure felt by the supply chain and material handling functions. Products and parts must be located quickly, their progress tracked accurately, and shipped out to the customer on time.

A Day in the Life of Material Flow

A part can go through a lot of hands and processes before it becomes a finished product. If a recently received part needs to be stored before use, for example, it must be properly identified, coded, put in the correct location, and recorded. That is a lot of steps before it is even used in production. There are many opportunities for products to be damaged due to handling, inaccurately stored, or delayed moving to the next stage.

Maximizing Efficiency of Material Flow

A key part of the material handling process is the proper identification and unitized arrival of an item. When a part is inbounded, or if it is going to be cross-docked, it should have barcode labeling. Barcodes help to ensure the correct skus and quantities are received into inventory, and just as importantly, can be found when they are needed. They also enable automated material handling equipment to do its job. Now, parts and products can be moved to where they need to be with technology, like SDVs (Self Driving Vehicles).

Similarly, when parts are needed in production, they can be quickly located, retrieved, and brought lineside for use.

Optimal Product Flow

During the production and order fulfillment processes, logistics managers need to ensure material flow efficiency to optimize inventory flow. Inefficient processes or inaccurate systems can lead to delayed deliveries, poor customer service, and procedures that are not best practices. Every time an item moves, it’s an opportunity for an error to occur.  

SDV Technology and material handling robots are tools used in modern facilities that prevent these types of problems.

Self Driving Vehicles also help to maintain better control over inventory and product flow and improve the movement of material around a facility - especially in areas with high volumes and where repetitive movement are required. They are also especially useful in areas that change constantly and where equipment such as conveyors are not as effective.

Optimizing the movement of both raw materials and assembled products throughout a manufacturing facility or warehouse gets materials where they need to be faster, and with less chance for damage or loss. With more efficient and accurate material flow, assisted by technology such as SDVs, production runs better and customer deliveries are on time.

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By Clearpath Team