Have you ever ordered a product and paid for shipping and handling? You might understand the shipping aspect, but what exactly is handling? The more professional term is “material handling” and it goes hand in hand with logistics. Logistics is the process of coordinating supplies, warehouses, and people to make something happen. You’re working to get products from their point of origin to the place they need to be. Well, material handling is the similar in a lot of ways; you’re working with materials from their early warehouse stages all the way through distribution and disposal. The material handling process could include cleaning, packaging, storing, etc. The logistics come after all of that. So, it’s very important for your company to have a quality material handling process.
Types of Operations
Material handling can be as simple as moving things on and off some shelves, or as complex as automated guided vehicles and production lines with robots. If you’ve ever worked in the stocking department of a grocery store, you worked in one of the most simple material handling jobs. You were bringing products from their storage stages and preparing them to look good for the customers. A more complex operation could be a brewery, where the beer is bottled, packaged, stored, and shipped with the help of machines. Of course, it’s always important to have people overlooking the process, but they’re doing less physical labor. We’ll get into more about that next.
Automated or Manual?
Businesses have to decide whether they want their material handling process to be automated or manual. Smaller businesses might be able to get away with a manual system, whereas large companies should be doing it automated. Workers in a manual system would be moving materials by hand and doing the physical labor. Some businesses that aren’t fully manual but not quite automatic will use things such as jib cranes to assist in the process. An automated system is the way any company would want to go, it’s just a matter of having enough money. It’s a very expensive process of having products go from their development centers all the way to the shipping truck without having any physical human handling. It’s also much safer, more efficient, and there’s a good chance the quality of product will be improved.
Why Is It So Important?
You might be thinking that the material handling aspect of your company can be put on the back burner. But this department isn’t something you want to cut costs on. Lets think about why it’s important. First off, you’re maximizing your storage space over time. By having a team of people that’s devoted to this, you don’t need to worry about losing valuable warehouse space. And then of course, there’s the movement of materials. Your team will have a good grip on getting things out the door on time. All of this will help with having good customer service. And finally, there’s much less of a chance that the goods will get damaged.
There is a lot to know about material handling, so it’s important to decide what is best for your company in order to ensure a quality product delivered on time.