The handling of material costs money, and therefore it should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible.
The material must be transported to the work station, it must be handled by the operator before and after processing, and finally it must be taken away again. On a punch-press operation, for example, the processing time is the time required for the press to make a single stroke, is extremely small.. All the rest of the labor expended on the part is material handling.
Material handling adds nothing to the value of the part, although it does increase its cost. Therefore, a determined attempt should be made to reduce material handling to an absolute minimum.
The material-handling problem resolves itself into two natural subdivisions, the handling of material to and from the work station and handling at the work station.
As a stimulation to all kinds of material- handling improvement, the following questions should be answered by the analyst during the course of his study of the factor of material handling.
1. Is the time consumed in bringing the material to the work station and in removing it large in proportion to the time required to handle it at the work station?
2. If not, should material handling be done by operators to provide rest through change of occupation?
3. Should hand trucks be used?
4. Should electric trucks be used?
o. Should special racks or trays be designed to permit handling the material easily and without damage?
6. Where should incoming and outgoing material be located with respect to the work station?
7. Is a conveyer justified?
8. If so, what type would best be suited to the job?
9. Can the work stations for the successive steps of the process be moved close together and material handling accomplished by means of gravity chutes?
10. Can the operation be done on the conveyer?
11. Can a progressive assembly line be set up?
12. Can material be pushed from operator to operator along the surface of the bench?
13. Can material be dispatched from a central point by conveyer?
14. Can material be brought to a central inspection point by conveyer?
15. Can weighing scales be incorporated to advantage in the conveyer?
16. Is the size of the material container suitable for the amount of material transported?
17. Can container be designed to make material more accessible?
18. Can container be placed at work station without removing material?
19. Can electric or air hoist or other lifting device be used to advantage at work station?
20. If overhead traveling crane is used, is service rendered prompt and adequate?
21. Can a pneumatic tube system be used to convey small parts or orders and paper work?
22. Will signals such as lights or bells notifying move men that material is ready for transportation improve service?
23. Can a tractor-trailer train running on a definite schedule be used?
24- Can an industrial railway running on tracks be used?
25. Can tractor-trailer or industrial railway system be replaced by a conveyer?
26. If helper is needed to handle large parts at work station, can a mechanical handling means be substituted?
27. Can gravity be utilized by starting first operation of a series at higher than floor level?
28. Can scrap or waste material be handled more effectively?
29. Can departmental layout be changed to improve material- handling situation?
30. Should the material-handling problem in general receive more intensive study in the immediate future?
For Material Handling Options described by Maynard (1938) visit
Read Full Knol Book on Operation Analysis by Maynard and Stegemerten - Method Study: Methods Efficiency Engineering - Knol Book
10 Principles of Material Handling
(“Ten Principles of Material Handling,” compiled by the College-Industry
Council on Material Handling Education (CIC-MHE) in cooperation with the Material Handling
Institute (MHI), represent the distillation of many years of accumulated experience and
knowledge of many practitioners and students of material handling)
When designing a material handling system, it is important to refer to best practices to ensure that all the equipment and processes—including manual, semi-automated and automated—in a facility work together as a unified, system. By analyzing the goals of the material handling process and aligning them to guidelines, such as the 10 Principles of Material Handling, a properly designed system will improve customer service, reduce inventory, shorten delivery time, and lower overall handling costs in manufacturing, distribution and transportation. These principles include:
Planning: Define the needs, strategic performance objectives and functional specification of the proposed system and supporting technologies at the outset of the design. The plan should be developed in a team approach, with input from consultants, suppliers and end users, as well as from management, engineering, information systems, finance and operations.
Standardization: All material handling methods, equipment, controls and software should be standardized and able to perform a range of tasks in a variety of operating conditions.
Work: Material handling processes should be simplified by reducing, combining, shortening or eliminating unnecessary movement that will impede productivity. Examples include using gravity to assist in material movement, and employing straight-line movement as much as possible.
Ergonomics: Work and working conditions should be adapted to support the abilities of a worker, reduce repetitive and strenuous manual labor, and emphasize safety.
Unit load: Because less effort and work is required to move several individual items together as a single load (as opposed to moving many items one at a time), unit loads—such as pallets, containers or totes of items—should be used.
Space utilization: To maximize efficient use of space within a facility, it is important to keep work areas organized and free of clutter, to maximize density in storage areas (without compromising accessibility and flexibility), and to utilize overhead space.
System: Material movement and storage should be coordinated throughout all processes, from receiving, inspection, storage, production, assembly, packaging, unitizing and order selection, to shipping, transportation and the handling of returns.
Environment: Energy use and potential environmental impact should be considered when designing the system, with reusability and recycling processes implemented when possible, as well as safe practices established for handling hazardous materials.
Automation: To improve operational efficiency, responsiveness, consistency and predictability, automated material handling technologies should be deployed when possible and where they make sense to do so.
Life cycle cost: For all equipment specified for the system, an analysis of life cycle costs should be conducted. Areas of consideration should include capital investment, installation, setup, programming, training, system testing, operation, maintenance and repair, reuse value and ultimate disposal.
Lecture Notes on Material Handling Equipment - 2012 - Michael G. Kay, North Carolina State University
For more information on recent development in material handling visit
Material Handling Solutions and Equipment - Information Board
MHI provides number of interesting materials through the web page
Lecture Notes Page on Material Handling
Updated 4 July 2015, 28 June 2015
First posted 23 Nov 2013