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Everything You Need to Know About Materials Handling

Materials handling forms a significant part of the economy of most countries. It’s a broad industry and one that has a strong and keen group of workers within it. It’s also a valuable type of work, with around 20 percent of the United States economy relying solely on materials handling. Even though it forms an integral part of the workforce, how many people know what it entails? Probably fewer than you think.

Below, you can learn everything there is to know about materials handling. You never know, it might be the very industry you’ve been looking to enter.

What is Materials Handling?

First things first, what is materials handling? It would be quicker and easier to explain what it isn’t. Materials handling relates to the movement of items within a building to its transportation vehicle. Goods leave warehouses in many different ways. You can use equipment, automatic processes, semi-automatic processes, and entirely manual processes – such as human resources.

Some methods are better than others. Automatic processes equate to better productivity than manual ones, but there can be significant costs associated with any repairs or breakdowns. A mixture of manual and automatic is potentially the best option for many businesses.

Why You Need a Material Handling System in Place

Productivity and cost go hand in hand, with one the driving force behind the other. If you didn’t have a material handling system in place in your business, there could be utter chaos. A system lets you move items from one place to another, with a set system that you rely on and trust. For example, how you would get building materials to a construction site, or retail products to a store.

Without a set process in place for these procedures, you will forever be trying to work out how to get products from A to B, with that brainstorming costing your company millions in the process.

What Material Handling Types Exist?

There are two primary materials handling types that feature in businesses and corporations: manual and automatic. Manual involves using your workforce to bear the brunt of the entire workload. They must move, carry, lift, and push materials for transportation.

There were over 230,000 work-related injury claims to ACC in New Zealand in 2017. If more businesses adopted automated materials handling technology, that number might reduce.

Automatic materials handling involves equipment that replaces the need for human labour. Such machinery can take all the burden and danger out of a task. The level of automation depends on the machine. Some are semi-automatic, such as a forklift that needs someone to drive it. Some are entirely automatic, with no human intervention.

How to Find the Best Materials Handling Equipment

Incorporating materials handling equipment into your business when you are so used to a manual process takes time. You can’t buy any forklift or crane and expect it to work for your industry. Some equipment won’t. The best way to find materials handling equipment is by considering every part of your business.

What distance do you need to cover for materials transport? What systems do you have in place now? How can you improve productivity? You need to factor many things into the consideration process. If you are having trouble finding a solution, consult a materials handling equipment expert for help.

What are the Principles of Materials Handling?

You might think improving your overall business model happens as soon as you add new equipment, but that’s not entirely accurate. You need to have a plan in place for how that machinery will work, then establish a system for the workflow. Then, you have to decide the efficiency that equipment will bring, the level of productivity it adds, and whether or not it simplifies your processes.

You also have to make sure you buy equipment for materials handling that handles your products. Not all machinery will handle all the weight loads. Having the right amount of space, a safety plan, and knowing your ecological impact can all be principles of incorporating materials handling methods into your business as well.

Why Upgrade Your Materials Handling System?

If you think your manual materials handling system works well, then imagine how much better your processes will be if you adopt automation. There are many benefits, such as:

  • Improving your working environment
  • Saving money
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Improving worker safety
  • Reducing product and material damages
  • Improving ergonomics
  • Increasing capacity
  • Improving productivity


You may be surprised at how incorporating materials handling equipment in your workplace can transform it. From powered hand trucks, mini floor cranes and lifts through to hoists and heavy-duty lifts, there many different options to suit various industries and sites.

If you want to save money, improve productivity, and dramatically alter the working conditions for your team, then it might be time to look into materials handling equipment. The changes that take place as a result of automated processes may surprise you.

This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from and other Amazon websites.

Written by Nathaniel Fried

Co-founder of Fupping. Busy churning out content and building an empire.

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