Material Handling: Essential for Safe Material Movement

Material handling holds importance in logistics within a manufacturing facility. This involves the movement of materials or products inside a building or are transported to the dedicated warehouse facility for storage, or to the retail shops to land into the hands of the direct end-consumers. Material handling process utilizes varied types of equipment that include manual, semi-automated, and fully-automated equipment. The handling process takes place in manufacturing shop floors, warehousing, distribution, and also in material disposal. The process includes the movement, protection, storage, and control of materials. 

material handling market

The growing automation in industries is fueling the growth of the fully-automated material handling machinery that are focused on reducing burden to human labourers. Also, with the rising labour charges, the material handling market is predicted to increase at a significant pace. It has been noticed that labour costs have risen not only in China but in other parts of the world as well. The rise in labour costs have led to the surge in end-product prices, and ultimately have put an impact on the export revenues as well. This is mainly due to the reduction in volume owing to low productivity. Also, organizations profits have affected significantly. However, the growing labour wages are not that noticeable due to the fact that industries round the globe are gearing to move towards improving their production processes through the adoption of automation. The surging trend of industry 4.0 have resulted to the shift of production processes from a technologically low to more advanced and sophisticated production processes with high throughput capability. Hence, providing an opportunity for the material handling market to strengthen at present and in the future. Examples of automated material handling systems include, automated storage and retrieval systems, automatic guided vehicles, automatic identification and data collection, and automatic conveyor belt systems, and many more.

Innovations in material handling systems have led to the supporting of varied company material handling needs. Material handling equipment that range from a simple cart to a more complicated system offers certain advantages that include saving time and money, enhanced safety, reduction in downtime, improvement in ergonomics, increase in capacity, saves space, increase in flexibility, and an improved work environment. Hence, an innovative material handling system is capable of improving work efficiency along with waste reduction that occurs out of damages or careless usage. Thus, offering ease and convenience to the industry personnel that include an assembler, production engineer, maintenance engineer, and others, further escalating just-in-time delivery and production.

The growing concern regarding workers’ safety and reducing workplace injuries are contributing to promoting the material handling market growthduring the forecast period.

It has been observed at a large scale that manual material handling poses risks to the safety of the workers while on site. Some of the hazards noticed include workers being hit by materials, caught between them or in pinch points, loading excessive weight on their back, falling due to improper storing of materials, not properly maintained material lifting devices, damaged racks, and material handling while on stools etc., among others. Such harmful events in an industry are creating a market demand for efficient material handling equipment in order to provide assistance to workers in a manufacturing facility in addition to reducing their workload. For employers, supervisors, and workers there are certain regulations set by organizations such as OSHA that every personnel in an industry must comply with. For employers, it is necessary to provide appropriate information, instruction, and supervision; perform carefully for avoiding injury from material handling; and make sure that the equipment and facilities are safe and in proper working conditions. For supervisors, it is required to ensure that all workers are complying with the OSHA regulations; effective communication with workers regarding potential risks and any specific issues should be made, in writing and verbally, both. For workers, it is required that they operate equipment and perform tasks in a safe manner, also, the duties are performed as per the OSHA regulations. Furthermore, in case of any hazards or OSHA violations, it must be reported to the supervisor or employer.

Moreover, with the utilization of material handling equipment, injuries associated with heavy lifting like back sprains, muscle pulls, spinal cord injuries, and others can be reduced to a greater extent. This will certainly help in not only saving workers’ medical expenses and preventing them from getting injured, that may lead to long-term disability, but may contribute to enhancing a company’s work in an efficient manner, thus, improving a company’s overall productivity.

The increasing construction industry, particularly in the developing economies of the world are contributing to soaring the market growth. It has been widely noticed that with growing urbanization including the migration of people from rural areas to urban areas are seeking productive, efficient, and eco-friendly material handling technologies for its soaring construction activities. However, the current novel coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the halt of construction activities, further putting an impact on the market growth as well. The material handling market is further projected to grow at a steady pace after 2020 with the adaptation as per the new normal conditions, post-COVID.

As per the United Nations predictions, the global rural population has ceased to grow, while the urban population is projected to achieve a population size of around 3 billion by the end of 2050. Growing green building initiative will further contribute to soaring the market demand. The rising construction of smart cities will further propagate the market growth. This is further supported by the increasing government investments for numerous construction projects demanding material handling equipment. For example, according to the IBEF, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, in April 2020, the GOI set a target of road construction of worth USD212.80 billion by the end of 2022. The energy sector in India is predicted to be offered worth USD300 billion investment opportunities for the next ten years, as of June 2020 information. Also, in the Union Budget 2020-2, the government supported the infrastructure sector by allocating USD24.27 billion for the development of the transport infrastructure.