3 Tips for Choosing “Everlasting” Material Handling Solutions

In Custom Wire Baskets, American Manufacturing

Marlin Steel on November 13, 2017

Material handling solutions come in all shapes and sizes.In many manufacturing applications, the material handling baskets, trays, and carts used are put through enormous levels of stress. Factors such as heavy loads, caustic environments, extreme temperatures, and job site accidents can all significantly reduce the useful life of your material handling solutions. These, in turn, can lead to more frequent replacement of the material handling baskets, trays, or carts, as well as a higher total cost of ownership.

While no material handling solution will be truly “everlasting” in all manufacturing applications, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that the one you choose will last as long as possible:

1: Consider the Environment the Material Handling Basket or Tray Will Be Used In

One of the most common mistakes leading to premature wear and tear that Marlin’s engineers have run across in past is that the designers of a basket or tray may forget to account for the environment the part would be used in and stored in.

Some things that have doomed a parts handling solution to premature ruin include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Ambient humidity
  • Salt particles in the air
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Exposure to ultraviolet light

Different basket/tray materials and coatings react differently to environmental stresses. For example, epoxy high solid coats degrade severely when exposed to UV light—and should never be stored or used where natural sunlight is a factor. Some metals may become brittle at low temperatures, increasing their risk of shattering during winter months in areas with colder climates.

These are all factors that affect the basket or tray when it isn’t in use—and too many designers neglect to account for them. Instead, they worry only about the specific use conditions in the manufacturing plant, such as when the materials handling solution is going through a wash process or another task.

By taking into account other environmental factors, such as the plant’s location relative to the sea (for saltwater exposure), where the baskets/trays will be stored, ambient humidity and temperature, it is possible to improve the design for better long-term survivability.

2: Exceeding the Minimum Recommended Requirements for the Application

A basket or tray that just barely meets the minimum recommended durability requirements is more prone to failure than one that surpasses them. There are a number of circumstances in which a material handling solution might be exposed to greater stresses than those specified in the processes it was originally designed for.

For example, a basket that might be dropped by its handler or a parts washing process can be tweaked to use slightly stronger chemicals. In such cases, a basket frame that only just barely meets the minimum durability requirements might get damaged. On the other hand, a basket designed to take greater stresses will be more likely to survive such situations.

In this way, a little bit of overdesigning against future process upgrades or accidents keeps a materials handling basket in working condition for longer. Picking basket or tray materials that exceed your minimum requirements can help to create an “everlasting” materials handling solution.

3: Consider Ongoing Care for the Basket/Tray

Every custom basket or tray is going to need some basic maintenance, no matter how durable it is. One of the keys to picking a top-class materials handling solution is to ask the manufacturer about how it should be maintained.

This helps you identify major maintenance risks that may exist for the basket or tray which you need to know. For example, stainless steel trays should never be cleaned with a plain steel or iron brush (or a brush used to clean plain steel or iron) because the iron molecules in the brush can be transferred to the stainless alloy’s surface. This compromises the protective oxide layer that keeps the stainless steel from rusting.

By considering the ongoing care of the basket or tray prior to finalizing a design, it’s easier to find one that is simple to maintain, or at least limit the risk of damaging your materials handling basket from mishandling the maintenance of it.

These are just a few basic tips that manufacturers can follow to choose a long-lasting material handling solution for their needs.

One of the most critical tips, however, is to consult an experienced mechanical engineer first. A mechanical engineer with extensive experience is better equipped to anticipate the many different environmental factors that can destroy a materials handling basket.

Additionally, these engineers should have access to some kind of virtual physics simulation software, such as a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software, that can recreate the effects of different real-world conditions on a design. This kind of software ensures that any materials handling basket or tray design is as robust and durable as possible by identifying potential faults, informing the engineer to fix them.

Learn more about how to make the best possible materials handling basket or tray for your needs by contacting Marlin Steel today!

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Author: Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel is a leading manufacturer of custom‐engineered products from steel wire and sheet metal. Its industrial material handling containers serve many industries including aerospace, defense, medical and automotive.

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