Common Material Handling Challenges

There are many problems that can plague the material handling process. Each one can cost you profits and resources if they are left unresolved. That is why you should know the common material handling challenges. If you know them, you can take the necessary steps to eliminate them and make your process more efficient. This efficiency will save you and your workers time and money in the long run, helping you grow your business over time.


The first thing you should look for is clutter. This is not just in regard to trash, but anything that gets in the way of workers and materials and does not need to be accessible at the moment. All too often, people will have tools or boxes laying around. This will slow down the movement and processing of materials. The best thing you can do is to give everything a proper place. Store things in convenient locations, with the most used items in the most easily accessible areas.

Excessive Handling

Another great waste of time and money in material handling deals with the amount of handling that a material or good goes through. It might seem counterintuitive, but the less time a worker spends with a material or good, the better. Every time you handle the material, you use valuable resources. That is why it is best to streamline the process as much as possible, limiting the number of times that someone has to interact with the product.

Wasted Space

Wasted space is a major issue in any place that handles materials. Floor space is a precious commodity, and you should treat it as such. That is why you should be sure to use every inch that is available to you as workable space. This includes every possible facet of your process, from storing to moving to processing materials. You need to be sure that you are wasting as little space as possible, even the vertical space above each area. You will find that even empty air space above the work floor can serve a purpose. Whether you use it for storage or machinery, try to use up all your space.

Crowded Areas

While it is very important that you use up all your space, that does not mean you can let your area become a crowded mess. Handling materials is a task that takes up a lot of room when done efficiently. If you try to squeeze more items or machinery into a small area, that does not mean productivity will increase. People need room to handle the materials, and a crowded area will prevent efficient handling. That is why you should give more room to your workers than you do to materials and storage.

Manual Handling

Workers are very good at handling complex and ever-changing tasks. However, everyone has their limits and cannot always measure up to the efficiency of machines to do simple tasks. That is why you should think about investing in machinery and systems that can perform these tasks. A great example of this involves the movement of materials. A normal worker is only able to carry so much at a given time. A conveyor system, on the other hand, is capable of moving vast amounts of materials without tiring or needing breaks. In these cases, it becomes more efficient to use a conveyor system than a person. If you are looking to install a conveyor system, contact the mobile belt conveyor manufacturers at Cambelt International to get the job done right.

Unsafe Practices

One of the biggest wastes of resources and money that can occur in material handling is employee injury. Any time an employee is hurt at work, it can cost a lot of money, plus you lose a worker, either temporarily or permanently. That is why you should always make sure you practice the best safety precautions you can. Things such as stress injuries and slips can cause a lot of damage to employees and your bottom line. Make sure everyone is following all the necessary safety protocols and recommendations to minimize these accidents.

Skilled Laborer

A great misuse of resources comes in the form of using skilled laborers for jobs that do not utilize their skills. These workers are paid more than other workers, so you want to make sure they are using the skills you pay them to use. Paying a mechanic to move some materials is not worth the money you invest in them. Avoid doing this whenever possible.

Inaccurate Inventory Management

Organization is very important to maximizing your material handling. Inaccurate inventory management and labeling is a waste of time and drains your resources, as workers are unable to efficiently complete their tasks. That is why you should adopt simple organization systems to ensure everyone knows where things are. That way, employees will be able to handle tasks more efficiently and waste less time.

Inefficient Storage

Another great challenge in material handling is bad storage. Getting the correct racking system for your materials is very important. Otherwise, you are just wasting space or making it more difficult to handle the materials. Either way, it will cost you potential profit and storage space. It is also important that you get storage and racking that can enable your workers to operate more efficiently. Bad storage can limit your workers’ ability to handle materials, as they will likely waste time fiddling with the storage.

Processing Inefficiencies

This challenge can take many forms, but it mainly comes down to bad communication. You need to be sure that everyone is following the same format to prevent confusion. You do not want to have workers misunderstanding requests or processing the wrong materials because of a miscommunication. That is why your systems need to be clear and simple. It can be a good idea to have everyone go through the same training, as it will get everyone on the same page.

These are just the broad categories of common material handling challenges that you might face. It is best to tackle these problems before they start. Look for any signs that may point to these issues and address them promptly. The best thing you can do to identify these issues quickly is to communicate with your employees. They work with the systems you have in place every day, so they should know what areas need improvements.

Common Material Handling Challenges