Improving an internal material handling system. A case study of a Swedish company in food industry
Abstract: Currently, customers are exerting a lot of pressure on companies by demanding for best product quality, customized products, reduced product lead time and reliable product delivery. Therefore, for companies to be highly competitive, there is need to improve productivity and delivery performance by having an efficient material flow. Nevertheless, the task of making the material to flow efficiently throughout the manufacturing process up to when the customer receives the product is not easy. To solve this, companies are focusing on the material handling system as it has an impact on efficient material flow and productivity. Hence, the aim of this project was to explore how an internal material handling system can be improved to guarantee a better delivery performance. To fulfil the aim, a single case study was undertaken at a dairy food producing company in Jonkoping. The information on the subject area was obtained through interviews, observation at the company and an extensive literature review. The information that was obtained was assessed in accordance with the framework of the project that includes; principles and physical elements used for designing a material handling system, software and information, and human and management. Combined analysis of the findings from the empirical study and the extensive literature review helped to identify the problems faced in an internal material handling system of the company. This was followed by identifying ways of improving material handling system and thereafter, improvement suggestions were made targeting enhancement of the delivery performance of the system. In conclusion, the findings indicate that improvement of an internal material handling system does not only depend on improving the physical attributes of the system, far from it, it is more dependent on having an efficient and effective information system. Another factors that came out is that there should be a proper integration of the material handling system and the workers operating the system. From a systems perspective this research has added information sharing and human and management to the one dimensional physical elements improvement of a material handling system.
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