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5 Cart Applications to Improve Material Flow in Manufacturing Plants

Material handling carts are used to improve material flow through any operation. However, even operations that use carts effectively sometimes struggle to identify good cart applications. They use too many forklifts, move things manually, or have stagnant inventory. It can be helpful to step back from the details and think fresh about cart applications to find new improvement ideas.

To help you break it down, here are 5 specific cart applications and where they might be helpful:

Application #1: Flat Deck Carts

Minimize forklift traffic in your warehouse by placing inbound pallets on flat deck carts. Flat deck carts connected in a train are capable of safely transporting multiple pallets at one time. This will reduce your forklift time and traffic in the dock area, and make for easier movement of parts when they are needed.

Application #2: Tug Carts

Tug carts offer a variety of functions that can be combined in a single train for flexible material flow. They are necessary equipment for any operation trying to go forklift-free. Tug carts move materials through your aisles so logistics can deliver materials directly to production operators. The same cart train can be used to pick up empty containers for return to the warehouse.

Application #3: Work in Progress (WIP) Carts

Work in Progress (WIP) carts are perfect for transferring materials from one part of production to another. They help you protect and store those parts until they’re ready to be used, reducing packaging and handling. Use custom WIP carts to ease handling of large and unwieldy items, and replace them for pallets to speed up delivery between processes. Dedicated WIP carts between two processes can be used as pull signals, connecting the production schedule of the two processes.

Application #4: Flow Line Carts

Whether you’re putting in your first line or your tenth, you don’t need to start with expensive automation. Building a flow line using carts is a great way to quickly create flow driven production. Instead of moving units between stations using forklifts, pallet jacks, or cranes, carts will perform the same function with more flexibility, better ergonomics, and lower cost. The carts in the flow line can then be automatically moved for a paced line or moved manually for a pulse line.

Application #5: Changeover or Maintenance Carts

Equipment maintenance and line changeovers share a goal: minimize production downtime. Carts can be used to support both activities by moving prep activities away from the productive area, allowing production to continue. The cart stores all the parts and tools needed for the given operation. Then, everything is at the ready when a machine needs maintenance, or when it’s time to change over lineside parts for a different product. Maintenance and changeover carts support faster, more productive maintenance activities and changeovers.

Carts of all shapes and sizes are used in a variety of applications in operations working to improve material flow. Similar carts can be used in a platform or fleet system across an entire operation, and custom carts can be used in dedicated areas. Finding cart applications and knowing which carts to use is a project that benefits from experience. Where should you implement them, which cart type is right for you, and how do you get started? If you’re not sure, talk to an expert: Contact Geolean today.

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