As a faculty member at the University of Arkansas who teaches material handling and other facility-related logistics courses, I enjoyed reading the column by George Weimer ("what's it really worth?" SpecialHandling) in the November 2006 issue. I can see using this column in my courses to discuss the not-universally-accepted position that material handling can be a value-added activity when it is used as an enabling technology in logistics and supply chain operations.
The only point that I will add when I use this column is that we still have an obligation to eliminate as much material handling as possible while meeting the objectives set forth in the "right" definition of material handling endorsed by the Material Handling Industry of America (you know the one, "… material handling uses the right method to provide the right amount of the right material at the right place, at the right time, … and at the right cost"). In fact, I believe we must still acknowledge the last of the nine "rights" in the above-cited MHIA definition so as to not overplay our position, since doing so makes it too easy for those outside of material handling to discount the role we have to play as an enabling technology in logistics and supply chain operations.
– Russell D. Meller, University of Arkansas