How a Material Handling Engineering Study is Performed

Written By: Marvin Logan

An Engineering Study is an inexpensive and efficient way to add temporary expertise to help study a distribution or manufacturing issue and come up with an engineered solution.  At Bastian Material Handling, we identify and measure several key performance indicators that, in most situations, management doesn’t have the time or the experienced staff required to tackle.  We have performed several of these studies for customers over the years and have come up with a focused plan of action that follows five steps or what we call the DMADV methodology.  These steps are outlined below.

engineering_study_02Define:  Working alongside you, we define the goals of the engineering study.  The project objectives and key success factors are identified as well as looking at potential project risks.  At this stage, we determine the study design year and agree to what you want to achieve.  We will use both quantitative and qualitative tools to define the desired outcome of the study.

Measure:  It is necessary to identify and measure key performance indicators early in the study.  Production process capabilities, organizational and management goals, and risk assessments are all part of understanding the current operation.  Bastian will conduct site visits to document material and information flow.  We will also at this time begin to benchmark current operations against best practices from our past experiences in related fields.

Analyze:  Key to the success of the project is an understanding of the metrics that make up the operation.  We will collect data and develop data models.  We are interested in things like order and inventory profiles, cycle times, customer order patterns, etc.  Using the data models, we will start to develop design alternatives, considering how changes in operations and growth will affect the key metrics.

Design:  Using the information gleaned from the previous steps, BMH will use its engineering capabilities to develop design alternatives.  We then optimize the best designs by interactively discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each design with you.  Working with the you, we start to compare particular design strengthens to the study objectives set in the first step.  The best design is chosen and we begin to plan for design validation.

Validate:  The economic feasibility, including ROI, of the best alternatives is done next.  This includes quantifying both the estimated costs and benefits of the design. If the project seems viable, BMH may also create a model of the selected design – either a computer simulation or equipment proto-type, as appropriate.

Sounds easy right?  All joking aside, at the end of the study, here is what you can expect Bastian to deliver to you; an engineering report consisting of the data analysis summary, a complete description of the recommended solution, engineering drawings, budgetary costs and saving, and the all important ROI calculations.

 The idea is to you give you all the information you need to make a solid, educated decision on the future of your system.  And here is the real kicker… all this data is yours.  Really, this is all yours and Bastian Material Handling has no ownership at all.  You can do with it however you please.  If you do decide to implement all or some of this project, all we ask is that you remember that Bastian Material Handling just so happens to be a full turn-key integrator that can take the responsibility of implementation from start to finish.  Our goal is to make your new system everything it can be through hard work and a solid partnership with you.

Marvin Logan is Director of Consulting Services at Bastian Solutions. He and his team of consultants provide engineering studies, system simulations, slotting analysis, and system layout and design.

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