When should a company add material handling equipment? If you are experiencing any of the following, it might be a good time: smaller batch sizes, heavier parts, problems with lost or damaged materials and the production flow.

In addition to manual and semi-automated devices, such as lifts, conveyors and air tables, shops large and small should also consider automated material handling devices. These include: robotics, buffers, sorting and panel management systems.

The benefits of these systems are numerous. Panel management systems, for example, offer the following advantages: reduced inventory; reduced panel damage; intelligent learning; reduced storage needs; size and weight verification; automatic alignment; allows for prioritization change; and lights-out features.

Source: Ken McFadden is product manager, Laminating & Material Handling, Stiles Machinery.

For information, visit StilesMachinery.com or call (616) 698-7500.