Integrated Material Handling Systems


  • With an integrated material handling system, the location of items as they travel throughout a facility through sortation and processing can be better monitored and managed.

  • By tying all the technologies together, a properly designed integrated material handling system can help a company improve customer service, reduce inventory, shorten delivery time, and lower overall handling costs.

To ensure that all the material handling equipment in a facility—whether manual, semi-automated or automated—works together as a unified, integrated material handling system, consultants and system integrators provide engineering services to design and implement a complete handling process. In addition to engineering, a system project can include documentation, purchase of equipment (including hardware and software), installation, testing, commissioning and support.

By tying all the technologies together, a properly designed system can help a company improve customer service, reduce inventory, shorten delivery time, and lower overall handling costs in manufacturing, distribution and transportation. Typical systems include:

An integrated material handling system typically comprises three characteristics:

  • Cohesive: A system incorporates manual, semi-automated, and/or automated mechanical interaction with products, as well as collection and management of the information associated with the processes taking place in the system—including manufacturing, storage, receiving, shipping, picking and more.
  • Coordinated: A system facilitates a continuous, coordinated flow of materials throughout each production and handling stage—from manufacturing to warehousing to shipping, for example. This coordination minimizes delays, waiting and intermediate storage activities.
  • Connected: A system links two or more material handling devices with a network of communications for precise timing of processes and activities, including release of orders for picking, replenishment alerts and delivery of components to an assembly line.

Integrated material handling systems connect equipment and software to support receiving, processing, storage, picking and shipping activities throughout a facility:

  • Assembly: Releasing a part that has arrived for processing
  • Conveyance: Sending an item down a conveyor or on an AGV to its appropriate destination
  • Order picking: Sequencing order release to minimize travel times and speed throughput
  • Production: Moving in-process parts through a production line
  • Replenishment: Triggering a command for the release of products from storage to forward pick locations

Integrated material handling systems provide a variety of benefits:

  • Timely handling – Because the system connects and interfaces with all of the equipment in a facility, handling processes can be streamlined and better timed.
  • Product control – The location of items as they travel throughout a facility can be better monitored and managed with an integrated system.
  • Accurate information – The system continuously monitors items and processes in real-time, helping to improve inventory management and process performance behavior.

Integrated material handling systems are used in every industry, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Appliance
  • Automotive
  • Beverage
  • Chemicals
  • Construction
  • Consumer goods
  • E-Commerce
  • Food
  • Government
  • Hardware
  • Hospital
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials processing
  • Paper
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Plastics
  • Retail
  • Warehousing and distribution

Read more about how integrated material handling systems are used in different industries and applications. Additional case studies can be found here.