Materials to be stored may be broadly classified as bulk materials or packaged goods. Bulk materials such as fuels, chemicals, minerals, and grain are stored in specialized storage facilities and transported in pipes, screw conveyors, power shovels, etc.

In the many industries which handle and store bulk goods, each accomplishes these tasks with very specialized equipment and techniques. This discussion will be limited to warehousing packaged goods. The reader should consult specific publications that apply to bulk materials-handling industries for particulars in bulk handling.

Within the packaged-goods classification, materials are subdivided into categories according to their state of completion in the manufacturing process. Categories include raw materials, goods in process, and finished goods.

Raw materials. These vary widely in characteristics, depending on the industry. A few examples are raw foods and ingredients for food processors, thousands of small parts for electronics assemblers, engines and motors for manufacturers of vehicles, and wood and finishes for furniture manufacturers.

Raw materials are the goods on which the manufacturing process will operate to produce salable products. Indeed, the finished goods of one manufacturer often become the raw materials of another.

Goods in process. This refers to goods which have completed some but not all of the manufacturing process.Typically, a manufacturing process involves several operations utilizing different equipment, skills, and materials.

Goods in process are stored while awaiting the next manufacturing operation.They are often stored along the manufacturing process rather than in the warehouse proper.

Finished goods. These goods are those which have completed the manufacturing process and are stored in inventory to fill customer orders. Finished goods may be further subdivided into reserve and order-picking stock.

Customer orders are filled from order-picking stock while the picking stock is replenished from reserve stock. The amount of raw materials, goods in process, and finished goods to be handled and stored varies considerably from industry to industry.

Industries having large inventories of raw materials usually are converters of bulk materials such as paper and steel. Manufacturers of highly complex equipment such as computers and automobiles require a significant amount of raw-materials storage for parts as well.

Industries having significant needs for goods in process handling and storage are those whose manufacturing process is not automated. Machine-shop and electronic-assembly operations are examples.

Finished-goods handling and storage capacity are a function of manufacturing volume and product bulk. Industries having high-volume and high-bulk output generally require a considerable handling capacity for finished goods. The paper conversion and bottling industries are examples.

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