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Great Material Handling Equipment Partner

How to Be a Great Material Handling Equipment Partner

Tim Brown | 08 November 2011

I have had the good fortune to have succeeded in the material handling equipment (MHE) industry for more than 27 years now. The first seven years in the industry, I purchased MHE, but for the past 20 years, I have made my living selling material handling equipment solutions of all shapes and sizes. Through my time in the industry, I have worked with a wide range of customers. Most of them have been excellent partners in the purchasing process. However, some have made the process a bit difficult, resulting in numerous re-quotes and many wasted engineering hours. This not only resulted in frustration for me, but more importantly, frustration and wasted time for them. To avoid those issues and facilitate the process for both parties, below are some basic tips on how to be an excellent material handling equipment partner:

1. Be Prepared

Prior to calling your MHE solutions provider, take a minute and collect the basic information about your application. Your material handling equipment expert is going to need to know sizes, weights, rates, voltages, etc, for you application. If you already know what type of equipment you are looking for, have the manufacturer and model number available. It is absolutely fine if you do not know what you need, but it is very helpful if you have the basic facts about your application down on paper ahead of time.

2. Be Mindful of Options

Keep in mind that multiple equipment options might require totally separate quotes from your MHE sales rep. Although he or she would be happy to quote any viable option, it's helpful if you can limit the options to only those that have serious merit.

3. Don't Always be in a Rush

A typical MHE sales rep might have 10 to 20 quotes in various stages of completion sitting on their desk at any one time. A rep will try hard to accommodate your request for a rush quote, but if you are continuously requesting rush quotes, it makes it hard to distinguish your standard request from a true rush request. Also, many proposals require several quotes from different vendors and some of our vendors are timelier than others. Just remember, we will always do our best to get a quote out as soon as possible.

4. What Can You Justify

So you have a material handing problem. Have you taken the time to estimate what you can justify cost wise to solve the problem? Too often I have proposed elaborate and expensive solutions to problems with little or no pay back.  Decent MHE sales reps should be able to give you a rough order of magnitude number as soon as they understand the scope of your project. If the order of magnitude number is greater than your justification, let your MHE rep know so he or she can refine the approach. Having a general idea about the size of your project budget will greatly assist the sales rep in selecting the appropriate solution for your project. Material handling simulations might also be a good way for you to visualize changes to your operation before making a large investment, so be sure to inquire about those services if you feel it would be beneficial.

5. Apples to Apples

Rarely will two equipment supplier's proposals be the same. If you haven't specified exactly what you need or aren't knowledgeable enough on the equipment to recognize the differences in the proposals, ask questions of your MHE rep on the differences so he or she can provide you with the pros and cons of the proposal features. It's important to compare apples to apples.

Whether a buyer, seller, supplier, or integrator, we all want to work efficiently and maximize our productivity. By taking these tips into consideration, you will be well on the way to becoming a great material handling equipment partner, and hopefully your next project--from proposal to completion--will be easier and less stressful.

Author: Tim Brown

Tim is a Bastian Solutions Senior Applications Engineer based out of Louisville, Kentucky. He has a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Louisville. Tim has been providing distribution design and integration leadership for numerous Bastian Solutions’ clients for over 30 years, helping clients develop strategic initiatives and lead successful system implementations.    


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