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Material Handling is the field concerned with solving the pragmatic problems involving the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the processes of cleaning, preparation, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal of all related materials, goods and their packaging. The focus of studies of Material Handling course work is on the methods, mechanical equipment, systems and related controls used to achieve these functions. The material handling industry manufactures and distributes the equipment and services required to implement material handling systems, from obtaining, locally processing and shipping raw materials to utilization of industrial feedstocks in industrial manufacturing processes. Material handling systems range from simple pallet rack and shelving projects, to complex conveyor belt and Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS); from mining and drilling equipment to custom built barley malt drying rooms in breweries. Material handling can also consist of sorting and picking, as well as automatic guided vehicles.
This topic is discussed in greater detail in the Material handling equipment article.
The material handling system (MHS) is a fundamental part of a Flexible manufacturing system since it interconnects the different processes supplying and taking out raw material, workpieces, sub-products, parts and final products. Due to the automated nature of the whole production process, the MHS must respond in concert with timeliness for all requirements of the processes and systems.
The MHS is composed of warehouses, buffers, conveyors, transportation vehicles or systems, part sorters, feeders and manipulators.
A Miniload AS/RS - an example of a material handling system.
Forklift trucks are common in material handling.
Motorcycles stored in specialty push back rack.