Material handling in a Warehouse
A warehouse, traditionally, is perceived as a place for holding or storing inventory. However, in Supply Chain and Logistics Systems, a warehouse is a place of collections where resources are in use by processors to meet customers’ requirements.
Materials handling is the process of moving, controlling, protecting as well as storing materials such as goods, items, etc. for manufacture, disposal, and distribution or even for consumption purpose.
An engineer accomplishes Material flow in the warehouse using forklifts, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), shuttles, overhead cranes, power and free conveyors as well as trucks for loading and unloading the materials in the warehouse.
Importance of Warehouse Traffic management
You may distinguish a warehouse into three types:
- Distribution warehouse: For storing products from different suppliers. Delivering it to a number of customers.
- Production warehouse: For storing raw materials, semi-complete products and complete products in a production facility.
- Contract warehouse: For performing warehouse operations on behalf of one or more businesses.
In all the above warehouse types, an engineer performs Material Handling by using different types of vehicles. However, since these vehicles travel in and around the warehouse leading to traffic congestion problems.
Therefore, managing warehouse traffic plays a vital role in material handling. Usually, Material handling is run in the shipping area, receiving area, accumulation, and sorting places.
Some problems businesses might face due to Warehouse traffic congestion are as below:
- A drop in customer satisfaction as materials do not reach the destination at the proper time.
- Shipment delays which lead to accumulation of trucks inside the warehouse.
- Financial loss. As a result, this affects production due to lack of raw materials.
- Cash flow issues as Inventory grows inside the warehouse.
- Increase in the operating cost of the warehouse.
- Accident prone due to congestion in various areas.
- Operational losses due to an increase in waiting time. As a result, there is wastage of fuel as well as resources both vehicles and humans.
Solution Approach through FlexSim
FlexSim is a powerful, discrete event simulation tool in use to build 3D visualizations of the processes in manufacturing, warehousing and logistics. It helps in identifying bottlenecks, reducing waste, decreasing various costs such as costs in running a warehouse and finally, keeping up with the schedule by providing accurate outcome predictions for intentional changes.
With the help of this software, a FlexSim simulation engineer receives the help in creating a platform to visualize the collaboration happening in/out of a warehouse.
Also, the software provides a view of all the material handling, truck and vehicle movement in and outside the warehouse.
Even more, the engineer may model the view in such a way as to mimic a real-time warehouse system – including Space, Storage, Resources (machines, vehicles and human) and processes.
Once the engineer builds the basic model using FlexSim traffic simulation software, he will be able to identify the peak traffic congestion areas and hours. This includes the cause for traffic congestion as well.
Furthermore, engineers may analyze these discoveries. Consequently, on the basis of the analysis, they decide upon actions for overcoming these issues.
The biggest advantage in using Process Simulation Modelling is the ability to perform a lot of ‘What-If’ analysis. As a result, analysts change the inputs, properties like speed, number of resource etc, and even rearrange picking areas or picking models. Even more, this is for comparing, identifying issues, formulating solutions and identifying the optimal solution.
FlexSim allows the engineer to collect any number of metrics for measuring the performance of the warehouse. Below is a list of the metrics used for performance measurement to mention few.
List of Metrics
- Total number of trucks that Check-in and Check-out into the warehouse during a given period.
- Total number of trucks that Check-in and Check-out with respective to a truck company and the type of material in the truck.
- Utilization of each of the Dock doors.
- Traffic congestion in and outside the warehouse.
- Warehouse space utilization.
- Warehouse parking lot occupancy.
- Utilization of resource (conveyors, forklifts, AGVs, shuttles).
- The total number of trucks waiting on queue to get served.
- Average waiting time of trucks.
- The total number of items processed by the warehouse with respective to SKUs.
By analyzing the above data, the engineer can identify the peak traffic time and causes for traffic congestion and work out solutions to rectify it.
FlexSim also helps to simulate logistics, city traffic congestion and production area etc.
If you are interested in Warehouse material movement related simulation, you might want to check out our blog post on ‘Modelling AGVs using FlexSim simulation software’
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