Automated Material Handling vs Manual Material Handling

FANUC R2000ib 125L R30ia Motoman MA1400 FANUC M710ic 50 Motoman HP6 NX100 FANUC Arcmate 120ic
Material handling is often required for just about any manufacturing process. Whether companies are building vehicles, electronics, or medical devices, material handling plays a major role. Material handling processes may involve picking up, moving, packing, unpacking, and storing products or goods. Manufacturers have two options when it comes to executing material handling applications, either through automated or manual systems.

Automated material handling, also referred to as AMH, involves the use of industrial robots and other computer based systems. Material handling has become one of the most popular uses for industrial robots. Many articulated robots are designed for executing such tasks. Robots can automate the lifting, moving, packing, storing, retrieving, and stacking of goods or products. The FANUC R-2000ib is ideal for material handling. Material handling robots can automate one specific tasks or an entire sequence of tasks. They can also operate with other material handling equipment such as conveyors, bins, carts, and sorters.

Manual material handing, also called MMH, uses physical force through human labor in order to move products or goods. Prior to the development of robots, material handling was only done manually. However, since the development of industrial robots many manufacturers have automated these processes to relieve workers of the taxing nature of these applications.

Deciding which method is best for your operation will depend upon weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Advantages of Automated Material Handling

  • • Cost Savings - Material handling robots can lower costs and increase savings through reduced labor, material, and utility costs.

  • • Higher Productivity - The ABB IRB 6640 along with other material handling robots significantly increase productivity through faster operating speeds and longer hours of operation.

  • • Safer Work Environment - Material handling can pose serious safety risks to workers. Automating these applications removes workers form the threat of potential injuries. Robots like the FANUC M-20ia are better equipped to handle the taxing nature of these processes.

  • • Greater Flexibility - Material handling robots provide greater manufacturing flexibility. They are scalable, multipurpose, and adaptable.

  • • Save Floorspace - In manufacturing floorspace is a precious commodity. Automating material handling can free up floorspace by streamlining the equipment and people on a production line. One Yaskawa Motoman MH50 can replace up to four workers.

Advantages of Manual Material Handling

  • • Low Startup Costs - Compared to an automated material handling system, the startup costs for manual handling are low. However, most of the costs for MMH are paid overtime as opposed to at the beginning.

  • • No Technical Expertise - MMH does not require your employees to be technological experts. With just some basic training they should be good to go.

Disadvantages of Automated Material Handling

  • • Higher Initial Cost - The only disadvantage of AMH is its higher initial cost. However, most robots earn back their initial investment within two years. Once an ROI has been established the savings are significant.

Disadvantages of Manual Material Handling

  • • Safety Risks for Workers - MMH can be very taxing on workers with the potential to cause serious injuries.

  • • Higher Long-term Costs - MMH will have higher costs in the long run than a material handling robot. Salaries, benefits, training, rework, and material waste will contribute to higher costs over time.

  • • Inconsistent/Error Prone - Solely relying on manual labor will cause errors and inconsistencies as humans are incapable of being 100% accurate.

  • • Lower Productivity - Productivity will be lower for a manual operation due to limited hours, worker breaks, time off, and labor shortages.

Robots Done Right is the place to start when it comes to used robots. Contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a used robot.