Automated materials handling (AMH) refers to any automation that reduces or eliminates the need for humans to check-in, check-out, sort material, or to move totes and bins containing library material.

The mechanical equipment used in AMH systems includes check-in machines, sorters, conveyors, singulators, stackers and unstackers, totes, bins, trolleys, and tote carriers. Somewhere in the process there must be a scanner to read the bar code or a reader to read the RFID tag (or both.) Various belts, pulleys, chutes, slides, and laser beams are used to ensure bins don't overflow and to get each item oriented correctly and pushed or carried into the right tote or bin. Self check-out machines are sometimes lumped into the AMH category because they take the check-out step out of the hands of staff. However, they do so by having the patron do it themselves so it is more of a self-service feature than automation.

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