Material handling System| How Material Handling Works: Functions and Objectives 

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Material handling and material handling system are  crucial aspects of any industrial or manufacturing operation. It involves the movement, transportation, and control of materials and products throughout various stages of production and distribution. 

The effective management of material handling not only ensures smooth and efficient processes but also contributes to cost reduction and improved working conditions. Here, we will explore the functions and objectives of material handling in detail.

Functions of Material Handling:

Material handling is an important part of many industries and industrial processes, including the transportation, storage, and control of materials and products at various stages of production and distribution. It is critical for optimising processes, lowering costs, and increasing overall efficiency. In this talk, we will dig into the functions of material handling, shining light on the critical roles it plays in the industrial environment..

  • Equipment Selection and Plant Layout Optimization:

A significant function of material handling is to influence the design of plant layouts and machinery selection. This involves a careful evaluation of the production process to minimize or eliminate unnecessary material handling requirements. The objective is to choose the most efficient and cost-effective material handling equipment that aligns with operational needs, while also reducing overall costs. Proper equipment selection and plant layout optimization can enhance workflow efficiency and safety.

  • Cost Minimization:

Material handling is instrumental in cost reduction through various strategic approaches. 

  • Firstly, it seeks to minimize the movement of semi-finished items during production, which not only reduces the risk of damage but also streamlines processes. 
  • Secondly, efficient planning of material movement within a unit optimizes resource usage, reducing the need for excess handling. 
  • Thirdly, minimizing the distance materials must be transported lowers transportation costs and time. Mechanization of material handling operations, as another aspect, increases speed and efficiency. 
  • Additionally, material handling aims to eliminate or minimize backtracking and duplicate handling, saving valuable time and labor. 

The utilization of gravity for material movement, where feasible, is a cost-effective strategy. Lastly, replacing manual labor with mechanical aids accelerates material handling processes, leading to reduced manpower requirements and labor costs.

Objectives of Material Handling:

Efficient material handling is vital to smooth industrial and manufacturing operations, contributing considerably to cost savings, waste minimization, and improved working conditions.Here we will learn more of of material handling objectives, we will look at the overall goals that drive strategic material and product management across sectors, eventually determining the success and efficiency of these operations.

  • Cost Reduction:

Central to material handling is the objective of cost reduction, which encompasses several key initiatives. First, decreasing inventory levels helps minimize holding costs associated with excess materials. Second, optimizing space utilization reduces storage expenses by making efficient use of available storage areas. Lastly, increasing overall productivity enhances the cost-effectiveness of operations, as it ensures that resources are used efficiently and output is maximized.

  • Waste Reduction:

Efficient material handling contributes to waste reduction through various means. Firstly, it prevents damage to materials during handling, which can result in losses. Secondly, it adapts to handle materials of different natures efficiently, minimizing the risk of mishandling or spoilage. Lastly, maintaining proper control over stock during both inbound and outbound handling processes reduces errors and waste, ensuring that materials are used efficiently without unnecessary losses.

  • Improvement in Working Conditions:

Material handling also aims to improve working conditions for employees, benefiting both the workforce and overall productivity. This is achieved by increasing productivity per man-hour, creating a more efficient workforce, and enhancing machine efficiency through the reduction of downtime caused by material handling issues. Smoothing out workflow processes ensures a steady production flow, and improved production control helps in better resource management.

  • Enhanced Employee Well-being:

Creating a safer and more comfortable working environment is another objective of material handling. This includes providing safe working conditions, reducing the risk of accidents, and minimizing worker fatigue by minimizing physically demanding tasks. Additionally, improving personal comfort leads to higher job satisfaction among employees, which can boost morale and productivity. Elevating employees’ skills and engagement in productive work contributes to a more skilled and motivated workforce.

  • Improved Distribution:

Efficient material handling extends to the distribution process by decreasing damage to products during handling and shipping, reducing losses and potential customer dissatisfaction. Optimizing the location of storage facilities ensures better accessibility and space utilization. Furthermore, enhancing the efficiency of shipping and receiving operations ensures timely deliveries, reduces delays, and improves overall customer service.

Five Key Aspects of Material Handling Systems:

Material handling systems are integral to the effective functioning of industries and businesses across the globe. These systems encompass a wide range of equipment, processes, and strategies designed to move, store, control, and protect materials and products throughout their journey within a facility or during distribution. Material handling systems are crucial for enhancing efficiency, productivity, and safety in various industries. In this discussion, we will explore what material handling systems are and delve into five essential aspects that define their significance.

1. Equipment and Machinery:

At the core of material handling systems are various types of equipment and machinery tailored to handle different materials. These may include conveyors, forklifts, cranes, and automated systems such as robots and AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles). Each piece of equipment is chosen to suit the specific needs of an operation, whether it involves heavy lifting, precise positioning, or rapid transport.

2. Storage and Warehousing Solutions:

Effective material handling systems incorporate storage and warehousing solutions that optimize space and facilitate organized inventory management. This includes the use of racks, shelving systems, mezzanines, and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) to ensure materials are readily accessible while minimizing the footprint required.

3. Material Flow and Routing:

Material handling systems focus on optimizing the flow and routing of materials within a facility. This involves strategically designing the layout to minimize unnecessary movements, reduce congestion, and streamline the progression of materials from one point to another. Efficient routing not only saves time but also minimizes wear and tear on equipment.

4. Safety Measures:

Safety is paramount in material handling systems. They include safety features and protocols to protect workers and materials alike. This may involve the use of sensors, guards, alarms, and training programs to minimize accidents and ensure compliance with safety regulations. Safety measures enhance workplace conditions and reduce the risk of injuries.

5. Automation and Integration:

Automation and integration are critical components of contemporary material handling. Automation increases productivity by eliminating the need for manual labour, and integrated systems allow for real-time tracking, monitoring, and control of materials. This connection makes data easily available for decision-making, resulting in more agile and responsive operations.


Material handling systems are the backbone of industries, allowing for the efficient, safe, and organised transportation of materials and products. These systems include equipment, storage solutions, optimised material flow, safety measures, and increasingly significant automation and integration, all of which work together to boost productivity and competitiveness in today’s fast-paced business environment.

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