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Handling 101

Material handling involves short-distance movement within the confines of a building or between a building and a vehicle. It uses a wide range of manual, semi-automated, and automated equipment. It includes considering the protection, storage, and control of materials throughout their manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption, and disposal. An individual can use material handling to create time and place utility by handling, storing, and controlling materials, as opposed to manufacturing, which creates form utility by altering the shape, form, and composition of materials.

Material handling is vital in manufacturing and logistics, representing over 20% of the U.S. economy. Almost every physical commerce item is transported using material handling equipment such as conveyors, lift trucks, and more in manufacturing plants, warehouses, and retail stores. While material handling is usually required for every production worker, over 879,500 U.S. workers( 2022, Bureau of Labor Statistics) work as dedicated "material moving machine operators" and have a median annual wage of $44,750(May 2023, Bureau of Labor Statistics). These operators use material handling equipment to transport various industrial settings, including moving construction materials around building sites or moving goods onto ships.

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