The 10 Principles of Material Handling

Fork truck, pallet jack, conveyor system, these are common things come to one’s mind when thinking of material handling. However, engineered material handling for a distribution system consists of much more than these simple examples. There are many essential factors to consider developing or modifying a logistics or distribution material-handling system, such as:

This is a summary of practical and useful guide to material-handling problems developed by the College-Industry Council on Material Handling Education. The 10 principles are certain fundamental truths of material handling, they are useful in analyzing, planning, and managing material-handling systems and activities. We can use these principles to build experience and expertise in material handling, they are starting point for identifying problems and developing needs and solutions.

1. Planning Principle

All material handling should be the result of a deliberate plan where the needs, performance objectives, and functional specifications of the methods are completely defined at the beginning.

Plan Ahead.

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2. Standardization Principle

Material-handling methods, equipment, controls, and software should be standardized within the limits of achieving overall performance objectives and without sacrificing needed flexibility, modularity, and throughput.

All things should be standardized without compromising current situation.

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3. Work Principle

Material-handling work should be minimized without sacrificing productivity or the level of service required in the operation.The measure of work in material handling is flow (volume, weight, or count per unit of time) multiplied by the distance moved.

Make sure key metrics are not hampered.

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4. Ergonomic Principle

Human factors in the form of capabilities and limitations must be recognized and respected in the design of material-handling tasks and equipment to ensure safe and effective operations in the system

Keep human factors in mind.

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5. Unit Load Principle

A unit load consists of a load that can be stored or moved as a single entity—such as a pallet, a container, or a tote—regardless of the number of individual items (one or many) that make up the load. Unit loads should be sized and configured in a way that will achieve the material flow and inventory objectives at each stage in the supply chain.

A load can be stored or moved as a single entity should be considered when planning the material flow and inventory objectives.

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6. Space Utilization Principle

All available space must be used effectively and efficiently. Remembering that in material handling, space is 3D and is therefore figured as cubic space.

Space is 3D.

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7. System Principle

Material movement and storage activities should be fully integrated to form a coordinated, operational system that spans receiving, inspection, storage, production, assembly, packaging, unitizing, order selection, shipping, transportation, and the handling of returns.

System, from raw materials to finished goods.

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8. Automation Principle

Material-handling operations should be mechanized and / or automated where feasible to improve operational efficiency, increase responsiveness, improve consistency and predictability, decrease operating costs, and to eliminate repetitive or potentially unsafe manual labor.

Automation is to kill repetitive, unsafe, and mundane work.

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9. Environmental Principle

The total energy consumption of a material-handling system, along with its impact to the environment, should be an evaluation criterion between alternatives.

Don’t forget the environment.

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10. Life Cycle Cost Principle

A complete economic analysis should account for the entire life cycle of all material-handling equipment and the resulting systems.

Don’t forget economic analysis.

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