Material handling equipment is used to handle, transport and store items in manufacturing, storage, distribution and supply chain facilities. It includes a wide range of mechanical assembly and automated systems that are capable of moving large, bulky or heavy loads over long distances. It can also include positioning devices that move items into position for machining, transport or storage.
Using this type of equipment can improve productivity and efficiency by increasing the speed at which tasks are completed. In addition, it can reduce the number of employees that need to be hired to complete a task. This helps to save money in the long run and helps companies avoid staffing problems.
Different types of material handling equipment are required depending on the requirements of each individual operation. For example, a warehouse with limited floor space may prefer maneuverability over stationary equipment such as conveyor systems. In contrast, a facility with high throughput demands may require dynamic sortation to optimize order fulfillment and reduce product damage.
Some common types of material handling equipment include:
Unit load transport equipment includes platforms and carts that can be pushed or pulled by a forklift to pick and move items. This type of equipment is especially useful for picking, packing and distributing small parts and components. Other units of transport include stacker or pallet trucks, jib cranes and monorail overhead cranes. These machines can be used to load and unload containers, totes or crates, or to stack items on top of one another.
Warehouse storage equipment includes hoppers and silos. Hoppers are shaped like funnels and allow for the bulk storage of materials such as grain, cement, wood chips or sawdust. They can be closed off to control flow, and they are commonly found in agricultural applications. Silos, on the other hand, are towers that hold bulk materials such as grains, coal, cement and food products.
Positioning equipment includes tables, crates and carts that can be used at the workstation to align or position materials for transport or machining operations. This equipment can help to improve worker efficiency and reduce product damage caused by human error or fatigue. It can also improve worksite safety by limiting the need to manually lift or transport heavy items that exceed worker capabilities.
Using these types of material handling equipment can improve worker satisfaction and morale by allowing them to focus on their duties without worrying about the movement of heavy or delicate materials. It can also cut down on wasted time by eliminating the need to hunt for misplaced inventory and eliminate frustration that stems from being unable to find a needed item.
Employees should be trained properly in the use of all material handling equipment to ensure that they understand and follow safety standards. Especially when working with heavy machinery, it’s important to understand the correct operating procedures and how to maintain this equipment in good condition. This will prevent any accidents that can cause costly damage or serious injury.