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Job Spotlight: Material Handler

At KFI Staffing, we place employees in a wide array of unskilled general labor positions. When it comes to manufacturing, there are countless jobs that rely on each other to ensure production is operating efficiently. Specifically, for this job highlight, we’re going to dig deeper into the crucial role material handlers play in the world of manufacturing.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of hand laborers and material movers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032. The need for material handlers in the manufacturing industry continues to increase due to the importance of the role in ensuring operations run smoothly.

What is a Material Handler?

In the world of logistics, material handlers play a crucial role in ensuring the flow of goods from point A to point B. This job relies on understanding warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities.

Entry-level material handlers are responsible for the movement, storage, and control of materials within a facility. From raw materials to finished products, this role ensures that everything is in the right place at the right time. Entry-level material handlers are often the first point of contact for incoming shipments and the last stop for outgoing goods.

What Does the Day-to-Day Look like for a Material Handler?

One of the responsibilities of entry-level material handlers is receiving shipments. This involves inspecting deliveries for accuracy and completeness. They must be detail-oriented to identify any discrepancies and report them. An eye for quality control is essential to uphold standards for the inventory.

Once materials are received, material handlers organize and store them in designated locations within the warehouse. This requires a good understanding of inventory management systems and the ability to operate equipment like forklifts, pallet jacks, or conveyor systems. Maintaining an organized warehouse ensures that items can be easily located and retrieved when needed.

As orders come in, material handlers are responsible for picking the required items from their storage locations. This process demands efficiency and accuracy to meet deadlines. Once picked, items are carefully packed for shipping, taking care to protect them from damage during transit.

Material handlers are also involved in the final stage of the logistics process – shipping. They prepare shipments for dispatch, ensuring that they are loaded onto trucks or containers securely. They’re also responsible for completing shipping documentation, including labels, invoices, and packing slips.

A material handler’s attention to detail contributes to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain. As they gain experience, they may progress to more specialized roles within the logistics sector, such as inventory control or quality assurance.

What Skills do you Need to Become an Entry Level Material Handler?

  1. Education and Training:

Most entry-level material handler positions do not require a formal education beyond a high school diploma or equivalent. However, having additional certifications related to warehouse operations or material handling can be beneficial.

Some employers may provide on-the-job training to familiarize new hires with specific processes and equipment.

  1. Physical Fitness:

Material handling can be physically demanding, requiring individuals to lift, carry, and move heavy objects. Physical fitness and the ability to perform manual labor are essential for success in this role.

  1. Attention to Detail:

Material handlers need to pay close attention to detail, especially when inspecting incoming shipments and organizing inventory. An eye for accuracy helps prevent errors and discrepancies.

  1. Organizational Skills:

Maintaining an organized warehouse is crucial. Entry-level material handlers must be adept at organizing and storing materials efficiently to facilitate easy retrieval and shipment preparation.

  1. Communication Skills:

Clear communication is essential in a warehouse setting. Material handlers often need to collaborate with colleagues, supervisors, and sometimes external contacts. Effective communication ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing the chance of error.

  1. Basic Computer Skills:

Familiarity with basic computer skills is beneficial, especially if the employer uses inventory management systems or other software tools. Material handlers may need to input data, generate reports, or use technology to perform their tasks.

  1. Teamwork:

Material handlers often work as part of a team. Being a team player, collaborating with colleagues, and contributing to a positive working environment are important aspects of the job.

  1. Safety Awareness:

Safety is crucial in a warehouse environment. Entry-level material handlers must follow safety protocols, use personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately, and be mindful of potential hazards.

  1. Adaptability:

Warehouse environments can be dynamic, with changing priorities and workloads. Being adaptable and able to handle unexpected situations is a valuable trait for a material handler.

  1. Work Ethic:

A strong work ethic, punctuality, and a positive attitude are essential qualities for success in any entry-level position, including material handling.

In summary, material handlers are crucial to the operation of a manufacturing facility. Their role is dynamic, requiring a combination of physical capability, technical skill, and effective communication. Material handlers ensure that products move safely through the supply chain, contributing to customer satisfaction and the success of the businesses they support.

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