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The Challenges with Material Handling and How to Overcome Them

Organizations involved in manufacturing face several everyday challenges in the operation of their business. One of the major areas where businesses may face challenges is material handling, ranging from storage problems to increased downtime. Let’s take a look at the major material handling related challenges faced by manufacturers/warehouses and how they can overcome them.

Storage Problems

There are several problems related to storage that regularly crop up. Firstly, a lack of diversity in storage spaces often leads to a shortage of storage space in case your product mix changes. When there are any possible changes or additions to your product, consider adding other types of storage systems like pallet flow racks, push-back carts, and case-flow racks. Another problem with storage is what industry insiders call ‘honeycombing.’ It means inefficient or poorly planned pallet racking resulting in clusters of empty spots that are unable to hold any product. Honeycombing reduces the overall storage space and increases the time it takes for employees to pick orders or navigate through storage. To overcome this problem, plan your slotting according to your inventory instead of going the other way round.

Safety Challenges

The number of accidents and injuries that occur in workplaces has gone down in the past few years but is still at a staggering figure. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 5,250 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. in 2018, up two percent from the 2017 total of 5,147. A large percentage of workplace injuries happen due to material handling. This is a big problem for organizations as it results in lost productivity, absenteeism, and workers’ compensation claims. To tackle the problem of safety, a system of efficient material handling equipment is needed. For example, overhead lifting devices are known to be better for worker safety as they operate overhead and result in lower chances of accidents. Moreover, proper safety training for employees is a must to improve workplace safety.

Productivity Challenges

The problem of lack of productivity is faced by many organizations that depend on manual labor for material handling. The solution to this is obvious – replacing manual labor with material handling equipment. Having the right material handling system is important not only for increased productivity but it results in diverting employees’ labor for better tasks. For example, an articulating jib does the job of lifting material and reaching in inaccessible areas of the workplace faster and safer than a worker would do.

Downtime Challenges

Downtime is a common problem faced by manufacturers across the world. Usually, the reason for downtime is equipment break-down or damage. To counter this problem, a regular maintenance schedule for all material handling equipment is necessary. Preventative maintenance reduces the chance of downtime significantly.


The right material handling equipment and an efficient system of material handling prevents these issues that arise in a manufacturing or warehousing facility.