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Materials Handling From Manufacturing To Sales

By Justin Nielsen

If your job is to oversee the efficient running of a warehouse, whether large or small, it is of vital importance that you have a smoothly running materials handling system in place. While it is necessary to focus on the day-to-day operations, it can be helpful to take a bird’s eye view of how materials are handled throughout the warehousing industry.

Those whose business it is to offer warehouse supplies understand the remarkable complexity of material handling. They see it as a web of interconnected parts, starting from the manufacturing plant and ending when a member of a sales staff hands a customer a product. At each stage, there are people whose job it is to make sure supply lines run smoothly. Each link in the chain has different materials handling requirements.

A good example of this is the company that manufactures small appliances, such as toasters. When a toaster is put together, it can contain dozens of different small parts. Each of these parts has to be stored someplace before it is accessed for assembly. Even a simple appliance like a toaster requires a complex chain of materials handling. The assembly line is what streamlines the system, but there are many other handling and fabrication tasks that need manual efforts, too.

Finally the toaster finds its way to the end of a conveyor belt. It is then put into a box. This box then goes into a larger box that is filled with a specified number of toasters. That larger box is then placed on a pallet together with others and moved to the delivery truck.

The pallets of toasters are sent to large distribution warehouses whose job it is to send the toasters to individual retail outlets. These large warehouses will be comprised of rows of pallet racks and throughout any given day, the pallets will be moved from the pallet racks to delivery vehicles. The forklifts will be in operation constantly, moving new stock in and shipping orders out.

At the retail outlet, a smaller number of toasters will be needed. In some cases, only a handful of toasters will be ordered. In other cases, a large cardboard box containing dozens of toasters will be delivered. The retail outlet will have its own specific materials handling system. This may be smaller in scale to that of the large distribution center, but may not be smaller in complexity.

The differences between the various storage and distribution centers are mainly in scale, not in complexity. The large industrial warehouse needs forklifts and pallet trucks, while the small local retailer only needs a few hand trucks. In both cases, however, the warehouse area must be arranged to maximize the use of available space. In the retail outlet, the staff has to know where to find whatever goods they need for servicing customers and stocking the shelves.

It is remarkable just how big a part warehousing supplies play in the running of any business, large or small. Efficient materials handling involves a complex chain of events that cannot be broken. No one knows this better than the warehouse supply company. They know just what a long journey that toaster took before it found itself on display in the store.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Nielsen, Justin "Materials Handling From Manufacturing To Sales." Materials Handling From Manufacturing To Sales. 11 Jul. 2010. 24 Feb 2015 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Nielsen, J (2010, July 11). Materials Handling From Manufacturing To Sales. Retrieved February 24, 2015, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Nielsen, Justin "Materials Handling From Manufacturing To Sales"

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