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Critical Factors when Choosing an Order Picking System


Planning a Warehouse or Distribution Center


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Material Handling Solutions | Material Handling System Evaluation | Material Handling Systems Design Build Process

Material Handling System Design Build Solution Process

TriFactor Edge: Phase II - Final Design and GMP Development

TriFactor is a licensed professional engineering firm that specializes in material handling system solutions.  Over the last 25 years, we have refined our structured design build process and have selected to innovate rather than replicate traditional material handling system delivery methods and services.  Our unique solution is called the TriFactor Edge.  The second of this three phase process is Final Design and Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) Development.

This phase is engineering intensive and depending on the complexity of the material handling system being developed, can consume hundreds of hours of material handling engineering.  The following work is generated during the Final Design and GMP Development process:

  • Final System Design to include the detailed location of all automated material handling system equipment.
  • Description of Operation that provides a written narrative of all potential product flow in the warehouse and all possible processes in operations.  
  • Description of Equipment that describes in great detail all equipment dimensions, performance specifications, limitations and appropriate applicability within the system. 
  • Description of Software including Human Machine Interface (HMI) screens, PC or PLC Controls, Warehouse Control Systems (WCS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) used or integrated in the automated material handling system.
  • Estimation of Equipment Costs including all necessary mechanical and electrical equipment that satisfies the final design. For equipment manufactured by multiple approved vendors, TriFactor will secure bids from each vendor and provide the customer with the features and benefits including costs, lead time, quality and related appropriate information, along with recommendations for selection.  Ultimately, the customer will select the equipment vendors and TriFactor will include their specifications and costs with the GMP Documents. 
  • Estimation of Labor Costs for mechanical and electrical installation. For installation services provided by multiple approved vendors, TriFactor will secure bids from each vendor and provide the customer with the features and benefits including costs, past performance, quality and related appropriate information, along with recommendations for selection.  Ultimately, the customer will select the installation vendors and TriFactor will include their costs with the GMP Documents. 
  • Estimation of Engineering, Project Management and Training Costs.  As a Florida Licensed Professional Engineering company, most of the mechanical and electrical engineering required to fulfill the integration of the complex automated material handling systems is performed with in-house staff.  However, for engineering services that are accomplished through approved subcontractors, TriFactor engineers perform the role of subcontractor supervisors and ensure the work performed is within the contractual guidelines and specifications required for a successful project.
  • Design Criteria.  In order to properly engineer a complex material handling system, certain parameters and guidelines must be considered during the design. We call these parameters the Design Criteria.  For example, understanding the various type and shape of boxes conveyed in a material handling system would be applicable design criteria.  This specific detail is essential in specifying type of conveyor (belt or roller), conveyor widths, curve turn radius, etc.  Also, the material in the box is design criteria.  A case of wine handles much differently than a box of books. The wine bottles are more fragile, have a different center of gravity and are packed looser compared to the box of books.  Understanding these criteria is critical to the long term success and functionality of the material handling system.
  • Implementation Schedule.  Integrating an automated material handling system into existing operations or building one from scratch takes multiple steps and requires the coordination and integration of many stakeholders.  During Phase II of the TriFactor Edge, TriFactor develops an extremely detailed Gantt chart that can easily consist of hundreds of tasks. This Gantt chart designates responsible parties for each task, the predecessor for each task, approximate start and stop dates and all other needed information, in order to ensure that all trades and stakeholders are working in concert with a common goal.  Additionally, when all information is incorporated into the Gantt chart, a critical path is determined for focused progress monitoring during the implementation phase. 
  • Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP).  This represents the maximum financial exposure for which the customer is liable.  By selecting the vendors that participated in the multiple bid process and summing the costs, the GMP is determined.  If the project comes under budget (through value engineering or other cost reduction methods) you benefit in the savings.  However, if the cost plus the pre-negotiated profit margin is higher than the GMP, then TriFactor absorbs the difference and you pay only the GMP. TriFactor has experienced both scenarios and in every occasion, the customer has felt they have received the best deal for their automated material handling system design. 

To end the Final Design phase, the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) documents detailing all of the above are presented to the customer and the decision is made to continue to Phase III, Implementation.