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What Is An Automated Material Handling System?

October 23, 2022

An automated material handling system (AMH) refers to any type of automation that reduces or eliminates the need for human intervention. 

Compared with manual handling that requires physical force to move, lift and retrieve items, automated material handling involves using robots and computerised devices to complete the work instead. Some of the main components of automated systems include bins, check-in tools, conveyors, tote carriers, trolleys and stackers. 

While there are pros and cons of both manual and automated handling, often automated systems are favoured because they provide an innovative solution versus human labour. In particular, within a manufacturing environment, some tasks may not even be possible without automated machinery meaning businesses can use the technology to refine their offerings. 

Here is an overview of automated material handling systems to give further insight. 

Why Is Automation Used In Material Handling?

Similar to how processes within manufacturing, warehouses and even in our homes can be automated, there are various benefits to be had by allowing the robots to take control. 

Machines can typically work quickly and efficiently, with some tasks far easier and safer to complete with automation versus if a human was to do the same work. A common example is heavy lifting around a warehouse, which could pose a risk to human safety, and may cause disruption while the movement is in place. 

However, with automation, heavy loads and any other requirements can be handled with ease. As a result, the business becomes more profitable as tasks can be completed speedily, and the likelihood of employee injury rapidly decreases. 

Where Are Automated Material Systems Used?

Airport baggage handling – Transporting suitcases through airports involves a secret network of tunnels, scanners and sorters. With Heathrow Airport alone handling 3,000 pieces of luggage per hour, without automated systems, everything would soon grind to a halt. 

Manufacturing and bulk handling – The very nature of production lines is that things need to keep moving to hit targets. With so many components to manufacture, an automated process means production can take place over a longer period of time (i.e 24/7 production lines) and be completed quickly. Likewise, with bulk handling, the machinery can move components to wherever they need to be in a much faster timescale versus human labour since it would require a lot of labour to move a heavy object if it would even be possible factoring in current health and safety laws. 

Postal and parcel delivery centres – Automated systems can also help sort items at a much faster rate than humans ever could. Considering how much mail moves around not just the UK but the world every day, an automated system is the difference between a letter taking a couple of days to arrive versus weeks. 

Warehousing and distribution – Warehouses and distribution centres aren’t only busy spaces, but their contents are usually tightly packed together. With space at a premium and the risk of injury high, automated systems can ensure items are moved between different sections in the safest way possible. 

Handling Equipment Examples

Automated Material Handling Systems UK

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a handling system for your operation, whether the items are automated or indeed manual. So if you’re in need of further help or advice, you’re in the right place. 

Metreel is a leading supplier of warehouse equipment relating to handling, fall protection and power feeds. From cranes to safety harnesses, you’ll find it all here at Metreel! We’re based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire covering the UK and beyond. 

If you would like to find out more about our products, or if you’re interested in any other of the services we provide, please give us a call on 0115 932 7010 or drop us an email

Alternatively, check out the Metreel Brochure to discover our full range of products and services.