Materials Handling from a Value-Adding Perspective
The keen competition in industry puts a great deal of pressure upon all parts involved, and in addition to demands on the physical product, there are demands on the service aspects, such as an increased demand on the configuration of the delivered materials and their packaging, on throughput time, timeliness, and increased cost efficiency. The performance of the materials flow systems, in which materials handling constitutes an important part, therefore plays a crucial part in the strive for competitive advantage. The materials handling function contributes to the adding of value when, for example, mixing articles, packaging them as demanded by the customer, or orienting and positioning them for a later process step, as well as influences cost efficiency and throughput time.
This thesis deals with the relation between the resources required for the materials handling function and the design of materials flow systems and is directed towards the development of a method for evaluation and improvement of materials flow systems regarding the performance of the materials handling function. The development of a conceptual framework for the perspective of materials handling as contributing to the value added in materials flow systems is included as an important basis. An improved understanding of the purpose of the materials handling function, as well as principles and procedures for how to utilise this knowledge to evaluate and improve the performance in terms of efficiency, is provided.
The research was directed towards theory building, and a primarily inductive approach has been adopted, where the empirical data was gathered in ten case studies mainly within the manufacturing industry and warehousing. A method was developed which makes it possible to estimate, in an early design stage, the efficiency of the materials handling function, and to identify where along materials flows that changes in the materials flow system design would give prerequisites for improvements. Further, the efficiency measurement has been utilised in a study aiming at relating the efficiency of the materials handling function to the process localisation in the context of the automotive industry and outsourcing. Additionally, the thesis includes a method for simultaneous evaluation of the materials handling efficiency and the physical work load generated in a materials flow system, the Work-Load Dose method.
materials flow system