This paper describes a handling system developed specifically for use with compact shaped non-rigid materials that display different degrees of visco-elastic and plastic deformation. The system is capable of determining material behavioural properties that describe deformation during handling and can predict the effect of different handling strategies on the workpiece, thereby allowing the most relevant to be selected. This design and implementation of the major components required is presented together with a description of the final integration and performance of the complete system. The system has been used to handle three different dough material workpieces and controls deformation to within an overall strain of 10%. Workpiece deformation is monitored during handling, and the gripping strategy adjusted when the material deformation approaches pre-defined acceptable limits. The approach has succeeded in demonstrating automated techniques to overcome the challenge of low workpiece stiffness and variation in material properties. New modelling and sensing techniques have been developed to enable this to be achieved. At present, the handling process is controlled using 486 PC 66 MHz machines and a reduction in processing time is possible with an increase in computational speed.