Material-handling equipment

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"Handling machine" redirects here. For the fictional H. G. Wells machine, see Handling machine (The War of the Worlds).
"Materials handling" redirects here. For bulk material-handling-related article topics see: Bulk material handling, Bulk cargo and Bulk liquid or the main article Material handling.
Industrial mezzanine.
Selective pallet rack is an example of storage and handling equipment.
Forklifts are the most common type of industrial truck.
A TGW-Miniload AS/RS – an example of an engineered system.
Industrial KUKA Robots for palletizing – an example of an engineered system.

Material-handling equipment is equipment that relate to the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. Material handling equipment is the mechanical equipment involved in the complete system.[1] Material handling equipment is generally separated into four main categories: storage and handling equipment, engineered systems, industrial trucks, and bulk material handling.

Material handling and efficiency[edit]

Material handling equipment is used to increase output, control costs, and maximize productivity. There are several ways to determine if the material-handling equipment is achieving peak efficiency. These include capturing all relevant data related to the warehouse’s operation, measuring how many times an item is “touched” from the time it is ordered until it leaves the building, making sure you are using the proper picking technology, and keeping system downtime to a minimum. A special analytical data-set known as Stock-keeping units (SKUs) has been devised to aid analysis of materials handling, which is obviously less efficient when a material asset is handled any more than a minimally necessary number of times.

Material handling equipment ergonomics[edit]

Industrial and material handling environments have significant ergonomic challenges. The heavier the load, the more critical the contribution of ergonomically designed equipment to achieve safe, efficient and cost-effective plant operations. Factors to consider when designing ergonomically improved material handling equipment include: weight of load, operating conditions, physicality of the operator, length of travel, frequency/repetition of use, and caster/wheel selection.[2]

Types of material-handling equipment[edit]

Storage and handling equipment[edit]

Storage and handling equipment is a category within the material-handling industry. The equipment that falls under this description is usually non-automated storage equipment. Products such as pallet racking, shelving, casters[3] and carts, among others, belong to storage and handling. In material handling equipment practices that require a custom approach of design, material handling experts evaluate many factors to determine the most efficient manner for the transport, retrieval, stock and life cycle of the goods or products involved in the business operations. Custom applications include: free standing mezzanines, pallet rack systems, shelving systems, order pick modules, conveyor systems and the like. Universal manufacturing standards and safety regulations for finished goods of material handling equipment have been in practice since the 1950's and generally are based on factors such as: strength of steel, evenly distributed loads, pin point stress loads and other engineered criteria to determine physical forces in static and vibratory load conditions. Several areas of the United States have mandated regulations for seismic conditions (also known as earthquake zones), which as result will enable storage structures and components to withstand torsional resistance during a seismic phenomenon.

Engineered systems[edit]

Engineered systems are typically custom engineered material-handling systems. Conveyors, Handling Robots, AS/RS, AGV and most other automated material-handling systems fall into this category. Engineered systems are often a combination of products integrated to one system. Many distribution centers will optimize storage and picking by utilizing engineered systems such as pick modules and sortation systems.

Equipment and utensils used for processing or otherwise handling edible product or ingredients must be of such material and construction to facilitate thorough cleaning and to ensure that their use will not cause the adulteration of product during processing, handling, or storage. Equipment and utensils must be maintained in sanitary condition so as not to adulterate or contaminate product.

Industrial trucks[edit]

Industrial trucks usually refer to operator driven motorized warehouse vehicles, powered manually, by gasoline, propane or electrically.[4] Industrial trucks assist the material-handling system with versatility; they can go where engineered systems cannot. Forklift trucks are the most common example of industrial trucks but certainly aren't the extent of the category. Tow tractors and stock chasers are additional examples of industrial trucks. Their greatest advantage lies in the wide range of attachments available; these increase the truck ability to handle various types and shapes of material.

Bulk material handling[edit]

Bulk material-handling equipment is used to move and store bulk materials such as ore, liquids, and cereals. This equipment is often seen on farms, mines, shipyards and refineries. This category is also explained in Bulk material handling.

On-rails transfer cart[edit]

On-rails transfer cart is a kind of material-handling equipment. It moves on the rails and can transfer heavy cargoes or equipment with the weight 1-300t between the workshops or warehouses in the factory. It is widely used in the line of metallurgy, coal, heavy manufacturing, automotive assembly, etc. Its power can be AC or DC. DC Power has rail transmit power and battery power, while AC power includes cable power and slippery touch line power. In addition, there is the manual rail transfer cart or towed rail transfer cart, also called motorized transfer trolley.


Conveyors are another form of material handling. Conveyors can be used in a multitude of ways from warehouses to airport baggage handling systems. Some types of conveyors are unibilt, power and free, chain, towline and roller conveyor.

Cantilevered crane loading platform[edit]

Cantilevered crane loading platforms are temporary platforms attached to the face of multi-storey buildings or structures to allow materials and equipment to be directly loaded on or shifted off floor levels by cranes during construction or demolition. They may be fixed or rolling and a variety of designs are used including fully fabricated and demountable types. The platforms are supported on needles (cantilevered beams) anchored to the supporting structure.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Glossary". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  2. ^ "Manual material handling tasks present ergonomic challenges.". Darcor Caster and Wheels. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "Applications: Material Handling". Caster Concepts. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Glossary". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 

External links[edit]