Material Handling: Definition, Objectives, Importance, Types

April 1, 2022

In a company that produces physical commodities, people transferring materials and finished goods from one location to another is a familiar sight. Raw materials must be transported from suppliers to an area where they can be utilized in production. Final goods are similarly placed into trucks and transported to their final destination. Material handling is, without a doubt, one of an organization’s most important activities. As a result, a business must learn about the most effective strategies to achieve optimum production. This article will teach material handling, types, purposes, and concepts. By the end of this article, we hope that you will have a clear understanding of queries like what is material handling, material handling management,¬† define material handling, and more.


Material handling meaning is the movement of materials or products from one location to another within an organization and the flow of materials or products to or from vehicles. The actions are generally limited to within an organization’s borders. Transportation activity, which is not included in material handling activities, moves materials from one organization to another.

Material handling is a crucial part of every business. It’s not only about the flow of materials but also the storage, protection, and control of materials as they move through various departments such as a warehouse, production, and manufacturing. It’s one of the most important obligations for businesses to execute well. Before a material can be used for manufacturing or shipped to retail establishments, it must be treated properly, so it doesn’t turn into waste.

Traditionally, most work was done manually because of the lack of technology. That meant that accidents were frequent during handling work, and the pace of labor was slow. However, with the introduction of technology, almost all work is done with automation or semi-automation, which reduces the frequency of accidents and increases labor speed.

Objectives of material handling

1. Cost reduction

The goal of material handling is to reduce the cost of production. Material procurement, storage, and movement account for significant total production costs. In addition, material plays a vital role in the manufacturing process. If the fabric is not delivered in adequate quantity and on time, the manufacturing process can break down, which strains the company’s bottom line. As a result, material handling is constantly receiving attention. Companies are always looking for new ways to use their resources better. The cost of production can be significantly decreased by employing sophisticated procedures.

2. Waste reduction

Reducing material waste is an essential priority for companies. Sometimes, the material becomes waste due to inadequate storage or incorrect transportation. Appropriate material handling takes into account not only transporting material but also ordering, keeping inventory of the correct amount, placing orders at the right time, and moving materials with improved skills and safety. All of this leads to less material waste. Furthermore, less wastage means cheaper expenses. As a result, companies’ profit margins improve.

3. Enhanced work condition

Before introducing technology, all moving and storage tasks were done manually. The responsibilities were delegated to specific laborers, who were in charge of the entire loading and unloading process. Because of the terrible working conditions, there were a lot of accidents on the job. People executing the work also needed protection, so proper and well-thought-out material handling was used.

4. Efficient distribution

The delivery of final products to retailers and wholesalers is distribution. Poor packing and storage can cause a lot of material to get lost or damaged during shipment. Material handling aids in the prevention of product damage during shipping and handling. Furthermore, it is concerned with the material’s storage location, which minimizes the chances of material being harmed in the storage house.

5. Improved flow of material

When raw materials enter the company as material needed for production and leave the company as finished items, it is said to have a smooth flow of material. When raw material is unavailable when required for production and is damaged rather than used, the material flow is disrupted. Material handling in the organization promotes material circulation, resulting in finished materials being utilized for production as soon as possible.

Importance of material handling

Material Handling is an essential function that requires continuous care and attention. The handling of materials by a human being is an effortless operation, but doing it properly requires skill and experience. Similarly, these requirements are also required for machine operators to process the material to free it from any damage. The best part about material handling and principles of material handling is that it saves time which means more production can be carried out simultaneously, thus increasing the productivity rate. Pathways and value-added can also be reduced, which, in turn, reduces the cost of production.

Material handling types

1. Manual material handling

Manual material handling is the first method utilized for material movement. The workers are responsible for the entire movement’s work in this form of handling. Workers use their hands to lift, carry, deliver, and empty the material container. However, this material handling is a time-consuming way of material movement that causes production delays and prevents efficient machines from operating at maximum capacity.

2. Semi-automated material handling

Semi-automated material handling refers to when workers do material handling tasks with the assistance of machinery, such as trollies and trams. In the early days of technological adoption, semi-automation was prevalent. It’s an excellent manual handling substitute. Semi-automation not only decreased workers’ physical labor but also accelerated manufacturing.

3. Automated material handling

The automated material handling system is the next type. Manual labor is reduced or eliminated with automatic handling. Machines and robots do work in automated handling. Robots have entirely supplanted manual labor. Most industries in wealthy countries, such as Japan, have replaced their staff with worker robots.