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Guide to Material Handling Equipment

If you work in a facility that handles materials, such as a warehouse, it is likely that you need to move around a lot of products and other materials. It is critical that these products, parts, or materials remain undamaged during storage or when moved throughout the warehouse. If you lack the proper equipment and systems at your facility, it can lead to damaged products and diminished productivity. 

At Trupar America, we recommend that you purchase the proper material handling equipment that is specifically designed to handle your materials and is built for greater efficiency. The right equipment can help you remain competitive in your industry while also increasing productivity among your workforce. 

While we offer a great selection of material handling equipment, you may be wondering where to start when looking to purchase the proper equipment. At Trupar America, we have put together a comprehensive guide on material handling equipment to help you get started.

What You Need to Know About Material Handling

Material handling is defined as the storage, protection, control, and movement of materials through consumption, warehousing, disposal, distribution, and disposal. 

There is a variety of material handling equipment and systems that are available to help with material handling with everything from manual to fully automated operations. Material handling is a critical part of supply chain operations. 

What Types of Material Handling Equipment are Used for Warehouses?

There are four major types of material handling equipment you need to know about, including:

  • Automated Systems
  • Storage and handling equipment
  • Bulk material handling
  • Industrial forklifts and trucks

These four main categories will help you understand the types of equipment that will meet the needs of your operations, helping you build an effective material handling system. 

Automated Systems

These are also called engineered systems that are used to assist in transporting and storing materials. Automated systems are typically comprised of several pieces of equipment. A common automated system is Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AR/RS). This system is large, featuring:

  • Racks
  • Shelves
  • Aisles

A shuttle, similar to a cherry picker, is used to grab the materials and place them on the system. You can have an operator manually operate the machine to pick up products or materials and palace them, or you can fully automate the system.

Since this system can be automated and computerized, it can also be linked to your facility’s computer network to help you keep a close eye on your stock control. You can also integrate the Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AR/RS) into other facility processes to make things automated and more efficient. 

Other types of automated material handling systems include:

Automated guided vehicles- If you want to remove the need for staff to transport material, then you may consider Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs). AGVs are trucks operated by a computer that can be programmed to be completely independent. You can program them to move along specific pathways through the use of sensors and detectors. These preset pathways allow the truck to move easily through the facility without causing any damage. 

Conveyor systems - A conveyor system is comprised of mechanical assemblies or devices that move your materials around your facility. They help to cut down on manual effort. They are typically built with a frame that has belts, rollers, and wheels. You can purchase a variety of conveyors, including:

  • Chain
  • Vertical
  • Overhead
  • Apron
  • Cleated

Robotic delivery systems - These types of systems are used to transport materials and other goods around your facility and are automated to help ease the workload of the staff. You will typically see these systems used to move materials in an assembly line. 

Storage and Handling Equipment

Storage and handling equipment is the equipment that is utilized to store your materials or goods when they are not being used. It is also utilized for products at the beginning of the production process or at the end of the production process. Storage and handling equipment is not typically automated. Storage equipment often includes:

  • Shelves
  • Racking
  • Pallets

With this type of equipment, you can create a more efficient operation since you will have quick and easy access to your materials for transportation. This equipment assists in making it easier for other material handling equipment to pick up larger quantities of materials more easily. The main types of storage and handling equipment include:

Bins, Shelves, and Drawers- Shelves are very commonly utilized types of storage. Bins and drawers work with the shelving to keep materials or products organized.  

Racks - Sliding racks, pallet racks, push-back racks, and drive-through or drive-in racks are all used to help keep your material accessible and to help you better utilize your floor space.

Mezzanines - Another great way to free up floor space is to use mezzanines. These are raised platforms that serve as a second floor within your building. There are several different types of mezzanines, including rack supported, building supported, movable, modular, and free-standing.

Stacking frames - Looking for a way to stack crushable or fragile goods that saves space? Use stacking frames. These frames are stackable and can be used to store delicate items on pallets stacked on top of each other without damage. 

Bulk Material Handling

Bulk material handling is the equipment that is used to store, control, and transport bulk materials. These materials are typically in a loose form, such as metal items, beverages, food, and liquids.

For example, a conveyor belt used to move objects from one area to another is an example of a bulk material handling system. These systems will feature hoppers and drums that are used to funnel loose items into packaging areas or other areas where they are manipulated in some way. 

Other types of bulk material handling equipment include:

Conveyor belts - A conveyor belt uses a pulley system or drums to rotate the belt and move materials. 

Stackers - These are automated methods of moving items from one area to another. They are used to place a variety of items into stockpiles. 

Reclaimers - This machine is used to pick multiple items out of a stockpile. 

Hoppers - This type of equipment is shaped like a funnel. They are used to pour materials into contained and can be closed off to hold materials until they are needed. 

Why is Material Handling Equipment Important?

Material handling equipment is critical to ensuring that you’re handling your materials in an efficient manner. When items are improperly stored and handled, you can end up losing products or damaging materials. You also create an inefficient supply chain without the proper equipment. Investing in the right material handling equipment can create a more efficient workspace and will help you avoid material or product loss. 

The major advantages you can enjoy by investing in material handling equipment include:

Lower the Cost of Your Material Handling

Without the proper material handling equipment, your production process, including material movement, procurements, and storage, can be costly. If the material handling equipment you have now can’t efficiently handle your materials, you can experience stoppages that force you to incur new costs and lower profitability. 

The material handling equipment will help to ensure that your production process continues to run each day smoothly. Whether you opt for fully automated systems or the proper manual equipment, you can get your materials from one point to another more efficiently. 

While this more sophisticated equipment can cost more upfront, it will help you handle materials more efficiently, prevent damage, and keep things running smoothly, which will help you lower the costs from errors, work interruptions, and damaged products or equipment. 

Lower Your Material and Product Waste

When using improper equipment without the proper storage systems can lead to mishandling of products which can cause damage or waste. This waste can result in higher costs for your company and can also cause clients to become dissatisfied with how their products are being handled. 

When you use the proper storage systems and material handling equipment, you can ensure that your products and materials are securely and safely stored and handled properly when moved. You can also more accurately keep track of your inventory. Equipment like shelving helps you know where to find your products, and since they are organized on the shelves, you will also be able to keep better track of how much of each product you have. 

Create Better Work Environment and Increase Worker Safety

Rather than workers lifting heavy materials and transporting them, they can use material handling equipment to help them. Rather than having them become exhausted lifting materials or risking injury, the proper material handling equipment allows them to work more easily, safely, and efficiently. The proper equipment also helps to reduce errors which can create a better environment for managers as well.

Optimize Your Space More Efficiently

By using the right material storage and handling equipment, you can make better use of your warehouse space. This will help you increase your storage capacity and increase your profitability. 

Equipment like side loaders gives you the opportunity to place aisles closer together. You can also use stacking frames, mezzanines, and racks to create more floor space. This equipment will allow you to safely stack your materials and pallets up high. 

More Efficient Distribution

If you want to continue to have satisfied clients, then you need to have the proper material handling equipment to help you get the products to your clients faster. Without the proper equipment, you will be getting products slower, and without the proper storage and packaging equipment, you risk damaging your products while trying to prepare them for distribution. 

When you have the right material handling equipment, you can store and handle your materials safely and efficiently for distribution. 

Material Handling Solutions at Trupar America

If you are ready to upgrade your forklifts, contact the team at Trupar America today! We offer a large selection of quality forklifts to meet your needs.  

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