The paper presents the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) as a potential decision making method for use in the selection of the most suitable material handling (MH) system in an iron and steel industry. In this study, AHP is used in assessing the various material transportation systems employed in a steel manufacturing industry and to decide the best equipment to be used. Information on the use of AHP in evaluating MH equipment is provided and an AHP model is proposed to guide the management of an iron and steel Industry, i.e., JSW Steel Ltd. Most important factors while selecting material transportation equipment and their relative influence on the objective of decision-making model are found. A total of seven decision criteria and five different alternatives are considered for this purpose. Each alternative is evaluated in terms of the decision criteria and the relative importance (or weight) of each criterion is estimated. From the obtained pairwise comparison matrices, the best alternative is chosen. This paper provides a good insight into a decision-making model to guide managers for assessing the various material transportation equipment that are commonly employed in a steel manufacturing plant. © Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.