When you recycle your glass bottles or soda cans, you can assume they’re sent to a recycling plant to be repurposed into something else. When there’s a large snow storm, you know your township sends trucks out to spread salt on the roads in an effort to melt snow and ice. And when winter rolls around, you need a new order of coal for heat your home if you rely on a coal stove for warmth. Your recyclables, salt for the roads, and coal to warm your home doesn’t just get where they need to be. There’s a long, complicated process to turn these raw materials into the things we rely on every day.
This process is known as material handling. By definition, material handling refers to the movement, production, processing, and control of goods and materials. Raw materials are produced with the use of material handling equipment. After manufacturing, these materials are distributed for use.
So many industries and materials fall under the material handling umbrella. Let’s take a look at how material handling impacts our every day:
At a high-level, material handling is an expansive industry. The need to safely and efficiently turn raw materials into useable product, transport those products, and make a profit means many industrial companies fall under material handling. Here are a few of the most common industries that rely on material handling:
The list doesn’t end there – if a product needs manufactured, packed, storage, and shipped, the process can be considered material handling.
Equipment is piece that helps accomplish production and movement tasks for these industries. Without the right equipment and optimized processes, the system isn’t as efficient as it could be. To increase profits, the best equipment and design needs to be used
For example, the mining industry uses material handling equipment from start to finish. Conveyor systems are used to transport raw material from the mine. If this raw material needs to be broken down, it’s fed from the conveyor into a crusher. Then, the broken down material is fed by another conveyor into a washer and screen machine. Without the right conveyor parts and system design, the whole process would take a lot longer and cost too much money.
When you understand the “why” and what equipment is needed to make that happen, you can finally see the big picture. The things that make your life more comfortable, safe, and efficient every day are probably part of a material handling process. Whether they come from a mine or they used to be a plastic bottle, machines like conveyors, cranes, crushers, and more brought them from point A to point B, and finally to a sellable product.
Next time to put your groceries away, purchase headache medicine from the pharmacy, and safely drive in the snow, think about how those things got to you. Material handling processes, equipment, and design helps keep things affordable and accessible. Without good material handling design and manufacturing, we wouldn’t have half of what we need.