Material Handling involves the movement of material, manually or mechanically in batches or one item at a time within the plant. The movement may be horizontal, vertical or combination of horizontal or vertical. Material Handling is the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal.
The focus is on the methods, mechanical equipment, systems and related controls used to achieve these functions. Briefly, Material Handling is the moving of materials from the raw stage through production to ultimate Customer with the least expenditure of time and effort so as to produce maximum Productive Efficiency at the lowest Material Handling cost.
Material Handling is concerned with motion, time, quantity and space. Material Handling Institute describes this as follows:
- Material Handling is MOTION. Parts, material and finished products must be moved from store to location. Material Handling is concerned with moving them in the most efficient manner.
- Material Handling is TIME. Each step in any manufacturing process requires that it supplies are on hand the moment it needs them. Material Handling must assure that no production process or customer need will be hampered by moving material arranged of location too late or too early.
- Material Handling is QUANTITY. Rate of demand varies between steps in the manufacturing process. Material Handling has the responsibility of being sure that each location continually receives the correct quantity of parts.
- Material Handling is SPACE. Storage space, both active and dormant, is a major consideration in any building as space costs money. Space requirement are greatly influenced by the Material Handling flow pattern.
Functions of Material Handling
Material handling embraces three functions namely
- Moving: It includes movement between machines or workstations, between department, between buildings, the loading and unloading of carrier’s, as well as much of more handling done at work place.
- Storage: It includes storage of material and tools and supplies between and around all of the above location, including finishing good, warehousing, and the other storage related activities that lie between the producer and consumer.
- To choose production machinery and assist in plant layout so as to eliminate as far as possible the need of material handling; and
- To choose most appropriate material handling equipment which is safe and can fulfill material handling requirement at the minimum possible overall cost.