Suppose you work in a warehouse or another type of facility. In that case, one of your most important responsibilities is to ensure that the materials are not damaged during storage and move through your various production processes as quickly as possible. Without the right tools and systems, your company is more likely to harm products and fall behind on productivity goals. To stay relevant in your industry, one needs material handling equipment (MHE) built for speed and designed to handle your materials.
Material Handling: What Does it Mean?
Material handling is the storage, control, protection, and movement of products and materials during the warehousing, consumption, manufacturing, disposal, and distribution processes. Numerous equipment and systems are available to assist with material handling, ranging from manual to fully automated options. The use of material handling equipment is critical for ensuring the smooth operation of a supply chain and, thereby, is used across various industries.
Types of Material Handling Equipments
There are four main categories of material handling equipment which include:
- Bulk handling material equipment.
- Engineered systems.
- Storage and handling equipment.
- Industrial trucks
Knowing more about these four major categories will help identify the types of equipment that will best suit one’s company’s needs. Understanding these options is the first step in developing an effective material handling system.
Bulk material handling equipment
Bulk handling equipment is used to store, control, and transport materials in bulk and lose forms. This application has numerous examples, including handling food, beverages, liquids, metal items, and minerals.
Some common examples of bulk handling equipment are:
- Stackers: Stackers are automated machines that load various items and products into stockpiles and transport items from one location to another.
- Conveyor belts: They typically use pulleys or drums to rotate the belt and move material throughout a facility.
- Reclaimers: A reclaimer is a large machine picking materials from a stockpile.
- Bucket elevators and grain elevators: Bucket elevators aid in the vertical transportation of bulk materials. Grain elevators transport and store materials along a production line.
- Hoppers: Hoppers are funnel-shaped devices that are used to dump materials.
Engineered systems, also known as automated systems, are fully automatic. They like mobile lifting gantry to help with material storage and transportation. An engineered system is typically made up of several units rather than a single piece of equipment.
Some common types of engineered systems include:
- Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS): Because it can handle a large amount of work, an AS/RS is a prevalent engineered system. It uses a shuttle to pick up loose materials and then place them on necessary parts of the system, and the process of picking can be done manually or automatically. Racks, shelves, and aisles are also included for easy processing. They can also be linked to a company’s network, allowing managers to monitor their stock quickly.
- Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs are computer-controlled trucks equipped with sensors and detectors. These vehicles can operate autonomously, transporting materials safely around your facility along predetermined paths.
- Robotic Delivery Systems: Many facilities use automated robotic delivery systems to transport materials. Businesses typically use these systems to transport materials on an assembly line.
- Conveyor Systems: Conveyor systems include various devices and mechanical assemblies that transport materials automatically throughout a facility. These conveyor systems are available in various configurations, including apron, cleated, chain, overhead, and vehicle conveyor systems.
Storage and Handling Equipment
These types of equipment are designed to hold materials when they are not in use. They also have products at the start or end of a manufacturing process. Depending on the user’s needs, this equipment can be used for a short or long period. It’s worth noting that this equipment isn’t usually automated.
Racking, shelves, and pallets are common types of storage equipment in material handling. These items enable warehouses and other businesses to store material neatly. When the material is about to enter the production cycle or is waiting for transportation, it is frequently stored on the equipment.
Storage, handling, and distribution are critical components of a company’s manufacturing cycle. One significant advantage of these pieces of equipment is that they allow a company to be more efficient. In addition, storage and handling equipment make it simple for other equipment to pick up and transport large quantities of materials from one location to another.
These encompass a wide range of equipment. The one thing they all have in common is that they all help with transportation. Industrial trucks come in various sizes, and material is lifted by industrial trucks using either manual or powered means.
Industrial trucks are generally classified into two types: stacking trucks and non-stacking trucks.
- A non-stacking truck serves only as a mode of transportation.
- A stacking truck can load and stack products.
Industrial trucks typically have attachments such as insertable flat surfaces or forks to facilitate transportation. These attachments are designed to fit beneath pallets for quick and easy picking.
Importance of Material Handling Equipment
MHE is critical for a company’s success regarding material handling efficiency. The following are some of the most significant ways that a suitable material handling system can benefit a business:
- Reduced material and product waste.
- Reduced material handling costs.
- Enhanced warehouse capacity.
- Improved working conditions and worker safety.
- Improved material flow and distribution.
Your company is one-of-a-kind, and it requires a one-of-a-kind solution.