What Is Material Handling
Arnold Electric, Inc. has two divisions: electrical and material handling. Being an electrical contractor is self-explanatory but AEI is frequently asked what is material handling. A brief explanation is provided below.
Material handling is essentially the loading, unloading and movement of goods. This movement includes moving raw materials to the manufacturer of products to shipping and distribution. It encompasses all manner of conveyor systems and storage systems. Dealing with material handling systems can be broken down into two categories, manufacturing and distribution.
There are a number of television shows that show how things are made- Modern Marvels, Unwrapped, How Things Are Made, and Made in America are just a few that show manufacturing of products. As you see products move from one system to another, all this product movement is material handling. Henry Ford is credited with being the father of the assembly line and gets a good part of the credit for being a sizable figure in the history of material handling. But material handling doesn’t stop when the product is completed, it still has to be boxed and shipped. That is part of the handling of materials also.
As product is moved from point to point, it still travels on a conveyor system. From boxes being put on pallets, to being placed on trucks, shipped to distribution centers, and then on to their final destinations all happens on material handling equipment- conveyors systems, hand trucks, forklifts, shelving/racks. The racks in some distribution centers are amazing as they can be stories high, and hold millions of items. Even when products arrive at their final destination material handling is done. Behind the scenes products must be kept until ready to be used or displayed. That takes racks to hold everything and at times cages to secure from pilferage. Finally, heavy boxes need hand trucks and forklifts to get the products to the area where they are to be used or displayed.
The use of automation to create product is amazing to see, but also is the automation of moving products all the way to your store shelves.