These days, material handling is easier than it has ever been before. There is a large amount of material handling equipment available to help you keep efficiency up and minimize the instances of double work that inevitably turn up.
If you're dealing with bulk materials, it may be worth looking into an automated material handling system to help deal with the large quantities effectively.
Forklifts are a staple in almost any facility with large quantities of materials. They allow for bulk material handling over long distances very quickly. They are available in many different sizes and load capacities and are even available for indoor or outdoor use depending on your facility.
Lifts, jacks and hoists are also very helpful material handling systems, allowing single individuals to manipulate large materials that would be completely unwieldy otherwise. Cranes are another piece of machinery commonly found in facilities that deal with very large materials or on sites where it is necessary to move objects great heights in the air.
Lifts, jacks and hoists can often be operated by just about anyone, but forklifts and cranes require specially trained and certified operators.
Automated methods of material handling have really begun to dominate the market since the introduction of highly effective robotics. Conveyor belt systems are a great example of a large-scale material handling system that can be effective if you are moving goods consistently to a set location. They are not as flexible as forklifts, only picking up and delivering from and to set sites, but can be much quicker at moving items around in organized environments.
Automated equipment is desirable because it minimizes the required workforce and accomplishes the same tasks much quicker and with fewer mistakes. Most machines are set up so that you just need someone to press the start button and watch it in case something happens.
While it may eliminate low-level manufacturing jobs, automation's growing dominance has created increasing numbers of jobs for people with an understanding of material handling engineering. Effective candidates have an excellent understanding of how the various machines work, are interested in the development of more effective ones and have experience in designing the layout of the work environment for ideal productivity.