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What is material handling?

Material handling is the act of moving large items as well as large amounts of items from one place to another using the right material handling supplies. The tools and equipment used to store and transport these items falls under the material handling supplies category and are very helpful in preventing injury while saving time and money. Material handling is important in many ways and is very much needed within warehouses, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and other industries.

Why is material handling important?

Just like the office supplies you use every day like pens, computers, and printers, warehouses also need supplies and equipment in order to function. Using equipment and tools to store items and retrieve them when they are needed can be compared to printing a document for a customer or a client in a traditional office.

Material handling supplies are essential to warehouses and places where inventory is stored because they provide a safer way of moving items without the risk of serious injury. Having these items not only prevents dangerous situations from happening, but it makes warehouse jobs easier while saving time.

What are the main principles of material handling?

There are ten main principles of material handling, which material workers and people working in warehouses have to follow. It’s critical that individuals working in this type of environment with machinery and large pieces of equipment understand the principles and their importance. These principles help with keeping everyone on track with knowing what the processes and protocols are for each type of equipment, and whether they are semi-automatic, fully automated or manual. The principles and their meanings are as follows:

  1. The Planning Principle: This principle states that all material handling projects should be done according to a plan set in place. The objectives and goals of the project should be communicated at the start of the operation.
  2. The Standardization Principle: All processes, methods, pieces of equipment, and other technological aspects should remain at their standardized limits and should not be altered in any way, shape, or form.
  3. The Work Principle: This one says that the work that goes into material handling should be low without jeopardizing the level of production needed for the job.
  4. The Ergonomic Principle: This principle means that the level of productivity and work ethic put in by the individuals working should be recognized. Ensuring that people using this equipment are respected and understand their value to the company is important.
  5. The Unit Load Principle: All loads of material are properly sized and should be aligned with the objectives at each part of the process within the supply chain.
  6. The Space Utilization Principle: This principle states that the space should be utilized appropriately and efficiently.
  7. The System Principle: All transportation of material or other items should follow a system to ensure order and coordination. The order should be as follows: receiving, inspection, storage, production, assembly, packaging, unitizing, order selection, shipping, transportation, handling of returns.
  8. The Automation Principle: Material handling methods should be automated as much as possible to improve efficiency, consistency, and responsiveness. This principle saves the company or business money from doing everything by hand, and it also prevents injuries that can come with unsafe labor practices.
  9. The Environmental Principle: According to this principle, the environment should always be considered when practicing material handling and that reducing energy consumption should be one of the top priorities.
  10. The Life Cycle Cost Principle: This principle explains that when material handling equipment or tools have reached the end of their lifecycle that they be replaced to optimize safety and productivity.

How can material handling equipment help a business?

Implementing material handling processes, or equipment can help your business in multiple ways. First and foremost, it can help productivity levels improve or remain high. It can also increase the level of safety your employees have while completing their daily tasks and can maximize the space you have available to you.

Financially, adding material handling operations can save your business money on labor, and reduces the amount of time someone is spending on one task. Manually doing something is far more dangerous and takes more time than purchasing the equipment that is automated to do it for you. Similar to how computers have improved the daily functions we complete in the office; material handling equipment will do the same thing in the warehouse or facility atmosphere. Investing in the equipment will save you both time and money down the road, which can result in expanding your company’s services, products, or amount of materials you manufacture.

What type of businesses would commonly need material handling supplies?

There are lots of different types of businesses that commonly use and need material handling equipment and supplies. Some examples being construction companies, landscaping companies, the agriculture industry, manufacturing plants, warehouses, and facilities. Any business that would benefit from a machine or piece of equipment taking the place of a human physically doing the job is a business where these supplies are needed. It’s far easier and safer for a person to operate the machine or piece of equipment that does the task compared to risking injury and their own safety manually doing it themselves.

What are the different types of material handling equipment?

There are many different types of material handling products and pieces of equipment that fall under four main categories:

  • Bulk Material Handling Equipment
  • Engineered Systems
  • Industrial Trucks
  • Storage and Handling Equipment

These categories all contain different types of pieces of equipment. Not all businesses and companies that require material handling equipment need things from all four categories. Some examples that W.B. Mason offers are things like carts and dollies, pallet racks, lifting equipment, shelves, and storage, fork truck accessories, ladders, loading dock equipment and so much more. The material handling supply you need depends on the type of business you run or work in. Construction companies are going to need industrialized machinery such as things from the industrial truck category and engineered systems, as opposed to a warehouse which will need smaller and less industrialized items like storage and handling equipment.

What are the common material handling equipment and supplies?

Some of the most common material handling supplies are things like carts, dollies, and other transporting equipment, loading equipment like pallets and crates, as well as storage supplies and equipment like shelves. Material handling supplies are common in places such as a warehouse, distribution center or a facility where product is stored, manufactured, and shipped to and from. Organization and efficiency when working in this type of environment is very important to prevent something from spilling, breaking, or falling which these supplies and pieces of equipment help with.

These common material handling tools and supplies also act as pieces of safety equipment for those using them. Maintaining the safety of employees especially in a dangerous environment such as a warehouse or distribution center is very important and is something managers should not take lightly. To help with keeping everyone safe on the job, W.B. Mason offers safety apparel, safety signs, as well as safety tape to prevent accidents from happening.

What factors should be considered for selecting material handling equipment?

There are many factors to consider when selecting and purchasing material handling equipment. Some being:

  • If you are maintaining a large company that sells or manufactures goods.
  • How much you are manufacturing or selling.
  • The level of productivity you need to successfully run the business.
  • The types of products you are selling or making and if they are hazardous, perishable, or can be damaged easily.
  • The value of your business.
  • The number of people you employ to fulfill orders, ship things out, manufacture things or sort/store them in the warehouse.

What equipment is good for bulk material handling?

Bulk material handling is the category that covers transportation equipment, as well as equipment that stores and controls bulk materials. Some of the main types of bulk material equipment are things like hoppers, reclaimers, conveyor belts, stackers, and bucket elevators. These items are designed for and help transport items in loose form such as food, liquids, metal items and minerals.

Where can I buy material handling equipment?

You can buy material handling equipment at home improvement stores or from various websites online. Home improvement stores may not have everything you need for your business in stock, so be sure to check out W.B. Mason for all your material handling needs. Buying material handing equipment doesn’t have to be a difficult experience, or even an in-person shopping experience. Shop with W.B. Mason online and receive your order as soon as the next business day.

Material Handling from W.B. Mason

W.B. Mason is your business’ one and only material handling equipment supplier. From carts and dollies to ladders and storage shelves, W.B. Mason has what you need to support your business and keep your employees safe while at work. With many options to choose from at discounted low prices, W.B. Mason is where to go if you are in need of material handling equipment and supplies.


Douglas Equipment Company. Common Types of Material Handling Equipment Used in Warehouses. ( September 8, 2022.

Handling Concepts. 7 Ways Material Handling Equipment Can Improve Your Business. ( Accessed September 8, 2022.

Learn Material Handling. What is Material Handling? ( Accessed September 7, 2022.

RAKA Handling. Different Types and Uses For Material Handling Equipment. ( Accessed September 8, 2022. The 10 Principles of Material Handling. ( Accessed September 6, 2022.

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