East West Manufacturing Blog

Making the Material Handling Equipment that Moves the Supply Chain

Written by Andy Reese | July 30, 2015

According to the Material Handling Institute (MHI), Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing represents some $30 Billion (over 25%) for the US Material Handling Consumption of nearly $165 Billion! $30 Billion!  Consider for a moment that $1 Billion = 10 tons (or about 10 pallets stacked neatly with $100 bills). Lots of $100 bills.

Have you ever considered what pieces of physical equipment are required to make a supply chain? If you remove the planes, trains, and automobiles. If you remove the factories, containers, and cargo ships. If you remove the trucks and delivery vans, you still have a massive amount of machines and systems in warehouses around the globe.

Can you imagine how many fork trucks, pallet jackets, racks or miles of conveyor systems that help manage warehouses and move goods around distribution centers are just in the United States?  A typical Distribution Center can have 6-8 miles of conveyor belts installed. Think about how many distribution centers Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target must operate. Add in every other mass retailer, e-commerce company, Home Depot/Lowe’s, supermarkets, sporting goods, and the sheer volume is staggering.

So where do engineers go to find suppliers to help manufacture the equipment that literally moves the world’s products?

1. Search for manufacturing capability

f you need Automotive PPAP quality machined high pressure die cast aluminum for automation chassis then look for a supplier who has experience with similar capabilities, not just similar products.

2. Who offers you the greatest chance of success?

Once you’ve ensured the supply partner can make your product (and achieve the tolerances and quality standards necessary), find out if they can support you, work with you, and offer more than just contract manufacturing services. Almost anyone can make a product and ship it. What other support is important to you through the life of the project? List out those attributes and use them as a lens to view all potential supply partners.

This is no time to go with the cheapest price. Unless you also receive the best service to match.


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