Importance and scope of material handling

Material handling in addition to handling of materials in an industry is also significant in terms of costs in overall operations because it is something that is quite common to all manufacturers. But when once its nature is exposed it may be difficult to overlook it as a major potential of effecting cost reduction. Materials handling problems assume importance due to a number of factors.

1. Various studies made in different industries indicate that the cost of handling alone accounts for about 20-25% of total manufacturing costs. What the cost in any particular industry may be is largely the result of the methods and equipment used.

2. It is usually found that each part is handled 50-60 times while it passes through the chain of manufacture. Expressed in tons, it is found that on an average 59 tons of material are handled for every ton of finished product.

3. Increased safety — Material handling account for 21% of the permanent disabilities and over 25% of the temporary disabilities.

4. Reduce damage claims — Modern handling methods have paid off in the reduction of damage in parts and materials.

5. Ease drudgery for men — Most of the jobs done by man handling are mere drudgery for men in the first place. Some of the mechanized handling jobs being done today would be a sheer physical impossibility for manual labor within the present economic frame work.

6. The field of materials handling remains still to be fully to be fully explored. Material handling techniques are not only industry’s biggest opportunity — they are industry’s biggest necessity. Competition is beginning to force this new technology upon industry.

Scope of Material handling:

Materials handling is spread over to many different industries and fields of engineering,


Manufacturing is the largest single field for applications of material handling where a wide range of materials handling equipments are used.

Materials handling problems involve surveys, plant and equipment layouts, routing, packaging and storage of materials.


Processing requires handling of bulk materials (like gases, liquids, semi-liquids and bulk solids). Special handling problems affect the plant design.


Construction needs proper receiving, sorting, storing and moving materials. In heavy construction projects, there is now a choice of special methods and equipments of materials handling. It influences the civil engineers in project planning.


In both underground mines and open pit operations, there is now a variety of equipment for extraction, handling and transportation of coal and ore. Cost of extracting the materials has been reduced to the minimum.


Materials handling equipment for handling fuel and ash are needed.

Machine Tools

The design of many processing machines is influenced by the need for integrating various material handling features or attachments to modern machine mechanisms.

Truck building

The automotive engineer develops trucks and trailer as efficient materials handling vehicles, designed for speedy loading and unloading, ensure cargo is secured properly, and safe transportation of a variety of materials.

Rail road car builders

The above are involved in improved rail road cars, development of terminal equipment, improvement in materials handling procedure for loading and securing freight and transferring or unloading it at terminals.

Barge and Ship building

New handling devices and improved kinds of marine carriers are manufactured in this industry.


Better cargo and storage methods for air transport where materials handling is concerned.

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