Materials handling covers
movement and storage of everything in and around an establishment. The ideal
factory would have an absolute minimum of materials handling and hence more
use of mechanical appliances. The shortage of labour and increasing wages
cost demand the most efficient use of labour. Proper materials handling
offers opportunity for improving productivity, reducing materials wastage,
minimising industrial accidents, reducing man-power, etc.
determining the choice of equipment, the following factors should be taken
-- Mode of arrival and
dispatch of materials.
-- Type/shape of materials
to be transported.
-- Amount of materials to
be handled in unit time.
-- Storage operations and
the time materials remain in storage.
-- Details of the buildings
handling systems followed by the spinning mills differ widely. Some of the
mills, particularly modern mills, have been using appropriate materials
handling equipment. At the same time, there are mills using outdated or more
article, based on the information collected from the spinning mills during
regular consultancy assignments as well as from other sources (1,2), the
materials handling systems being followed by the mills have been analysed
and suggestions are offered for better handling. Photographs/sketches of
some trucks, which are suitable for the spinning mills, are shown in this
article just to indicate the type of equipment available.
Industrial trucks are the major category of
equipment used for materials transportation. For safety and bulk movement of
materials, industrial trucks play a vital role. They are used to move
materials over variable paths, with no restrictions on the area covered by
The major types of industrial trucks are:
1. Hand truck
a)Two wheeled hand truck
c)Floor hand truck
2. Pallet jack
a)Manual pallet jack
b)Powered pallet jack
3. Walkie stacker
a)Manual walkie stacker
b)Powered walkie stacker
4. Pallet truck
5. Platform truck
a)Walkie platform truck
b)Rider platform truck
6. Counterbalanced lift truck (forklift)
a)Sit-down counterbalanced lift
b)Stand-up counterbalanced lift
7. Order picker
Materials handling in spinning mills
Materials handling in a spinning mill broadly
involves handling of raw material, intermediate products, wastes, finished
goods, stores and maintenance equipment/tools. During fibre to yarn
conversion, materials (raw material, laps, sliver, roving, yarn, finished
goods and wastes) are stored at different places and transported between
departments. Like any other manufacturing industry, spinning mills also
require efficient materials handling system.
Spinning mills receive raw materials – both
cotton and man-made fibres – normally in the form of bales, in lorries. In
the case of cotton, a bale weighs about 170 kg whereas a synthetic fibre
bale weighs around 300 kg. On arrival, these bales are first stored in
godowns, up to 10 feet height, in multiple layers, ie, one above the other
and then transported to the mixing department.
In many mills,
after arrival of lorries, bales are manually pushed down on the floor. Then,
using single bale trolleys (Figure 1), the bales are taken to the godown one
by one for storage. This is not only time consuming and requires more
workers to be engaged but also laborious.
Figure 1. Single bale trolley
Forklifts, stackers, platform trucks
and dock levellers
Forklifts (Figures 2 and 3) can be used to unload
bales (2 or 3 at a time) directly from lorries, transport and stack them in
godowns. Wherever required, suitable ramps must be constructed or dock
levellers must be used (Figure 4) for unloading of bales by forklifts from
If there is any
space constraint in the godown for free movement of forklift, electric
stackers (Figure 5) can be used for stacking the bales. Mills, which
normally handle large number of bales can use forklifts exclusively for
unloading bales from lorries and transporting them to the godown and
stackers can be used to stack the bales.
Figure 2. Forklift truck
Figure 3. Forklift truck with
Figure 4. Dock leveller
godowns, bales are manually transported to the mixing department (using
single bale trolley). Instead, mills can use platform trucks (Figure 6), by
which a single operator can transport up to 3 bales at a time and deliver
them at the appropriate place in the mixing department.
Mills in which
mixing department is situated at an elevated place, can use forklifts to
supply bales from platform truck to the mixing area.
Mixing and blow room
supply bales near bale plucker mills can use platform trucks. In the case of
stack mixing, material from bins is carried either in hands or by using
bamboo baskets/plastic crates and fed to bale openers. These methods not
only consume more time but would also often result in spilling of the
material on the floor leading to poor house keeping and more waste. Use of
lift able spring type pedal operated mixing trolley (Figure 7) would help to
eliminate these disadvantages. This type of trolley can transport up to 30
kg of material at a time. Moreover, the material can be fed evenly on the
long lattices of the bale openers.
mills have been using trolleys to transport blow room laps to carding
section. However, in some mills laps are transported by the workers keeping
one lap at a time on the shoulder.
The trolley shown in Figure 8 can be used to
transport 4 to 6 laps at a time. There is little possibility of any damage
occurring to the laps since they are already stacked vertically in blow
room. For better handling, each lap (after doffing) must be covered with
synthetic or cotton cloth.
Sliver cans – both full and empty – are to
be transported between cards, draw frames, comber preparatory machines,
combers and fly frames. In many mills, cans are transported manually by
dragging them on the floor. This practice would not only spoil the floor,
damage the can and result in wastage of sliver but also consume more time.
The trolley shown in Figure 9 can be used to carry 3 or 4 cans at a time.
easy transportation, cans fitted with casters are used in modern cards, draw
frames and combers. Figure 10 shows the diagram of a single can trolley.
Whenever there is a requirement for single can and/or space constraint in
the department for the movement of multi can trolley, single can trolley can
Comber preparatory machine laps
The laps are generally transported to the
combers manually, ie by carrying one or two laps on hands at a time. This
system takes a lot of time and also results in wastage of material. The
trolley shown in Figure 11 can transport 8 laps at a time. It can be moved
easily along narrow alleys.
Fly frame bobbins
During doffing, doffers normally keep the
doffed bobbins on the top arms and then carry 8 to 10 bobbins by hand to the
storage place. This practice is not only laborious but also sometimes
results in bobbins falling on the floor and the roving material getting
spoiled. Since a full bobbin weighs more than 1 kg, falling bobbins may also
cause injuries to the workers.
shown in Figure 12 will be more suitable for storing full bobbins during
doffing. This trolley can be moved in between fly frames and up to 60
bobbins (30 on each side) can be stacked easily. Empty bobbins required for
doffing can also be placed on the top portion of this trolley. If sufficient
number of trolleys are available, they (with full bobbins) can be shifted
directly to the ring frame section. This will reduce unnecessary material
handling and avoid storing of full bobbins in racks.
In many mills, after doffing, full bobbins
are stored in racks from which they are transported to the ring frame
section by using either a box type or open type trolley. In the box type
trolley, bobbins are haphazardly stacked. This often causes damages to
roving. In the open type trolley, bobbins are arranged neatly one over the
other. This trolley has a capacity to transport all the bobbins from a
single doff and it can be moved in narrow alleys also. However, in this type
of trolley also, there are chances for the roving of bobbins stacked in the
bottom row getting distorted.
The most appropriate trolley for carrying full
bobbins to ring frames without causing any damage to the roving, is
porcupine type trolley (Figure 13). In this type of trolley, each bobbin is
placed separately on a peg.
Ring frame cops
Two different methods of doffing are being practiced by the mills.
1. Doffing and donning by separate workers
2. Doffing and donning simultaneously by the same worker
latter is the correct method which is presently followed by a large number
of mills. For practicing this method of doffing, mills must use suitably
designed light weight trolleys. The doffing trolley suggested for
simultaneous ‘doffing and donning’ method is shown in Figure 14. The
trolley has two compartments; one for carrying empty cops and another for
keeping doffed cops. Plastic crates can be fitted in the compartments. Each
doffer must be given one trolley.
mills, doffed cops are first transferred to bamboo baskets or big size metal
or wooden containers and they are transported to post spinning department in
trolleys. The baskets/containers with doffed cops are kept one above the
other on the trolley. This practice not only results in damages to some cops
(top layer of yarns) but also causes entanglement leading to yarn waste. In
winding department, the tenter has to transfer the cops from these
containers/baskets either to bins or to other small containers. This would
also result in entanglement of yarn leading to more waste.
transferring the doffed cops to the baskets, the plastic crates, which are
used for doffing, with cops themselves can be loaded on the trolley and
transported to the post spinning section.
In many mills, full cones are transported to
the packing section by using baskets/box type trolleys. This method would
cause damages to the cones. To avoid this, mills must use trolleys fitted
with cone holder pegs (Figure 15). When the cones are kept in this trolley,
it is easy to inspect them for package defects. This trolley can also be
used to transport cheeses from doubler winding machines to TFO twisting/ring
In many mills, packed cone bags or
cartons are transported to finished yarn go down by carrying them manually.
Instead, a platform truck (Figure 6) can be used. For stacking bags or
cartons in go downs and loading them in lorries/containers, electric stackers
(Figure 5) can be used.
pallets to storage place and loading them in containers, either manual
pallet truck (Figure 16) or powered pallet truck (Figure 17) can be used.
Mills in which stores and spares are stored in racks,
electric order picker (Figure 18) can be used to pick the required items.
The authors wish to place on record their
grateful thanks to various suppliers and manufacturers of materials handling
equipment for furnishing the required information. They express their
sincere thanks to Dr Arindam Basu, Director, SITRA and Ms Indra Doraiswamy,
Advisor, SITRA for their guidance in this work. Last but not the least,
thanks are also due to Mr S Raj Kumar of L&C Division for drawing the
diagrams of different materials handling equipment.
1. Ratnam T V and Chellamani
K P (2004): Maintenance Management in Spinning,
2. Information on materials handling
equipment provided by the manufacturers/suppliers.
The authors are with the The South India
Textile Research Association (SITRA), Coimbatore.