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Different Types of Material Handling Equipment







When running an industrial or commercial facility, you need the right material handling equipment. However, the name is very broad because any piece of equipment that assists with the process of moving materials can be referred to as material handling equipment. Indeed, items such as tools and unit vehicles that deal with moving, storing, and controlling materials at any point in the production system can be referred to as material handling equipment. The following are the four main categories of material handling equipment.












Bulk Handling Material Equipment

The term bulk handling means storage, control, and transportation of materials in large quantities and in loose form. These could mean handling of liquids, food, beverages, and metal items to mention but a few.


The equipment handles these materials when they are loose. For example, a conveyor belt is used to move materials from one section of the processing system to another. Other types of equipment such as hoppers and drums could also be used to funnel lose items into different stages of production. Here are the main types of bulk handling material equipment:


Engineered Systems


Engineered systems are automated material handling equipment. They are designed using different units that can also enable them to store and transport the materials. In such a case, the equipment is referred to as an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS).


AS/SR is a large automated device that is fitted with aisles, shelves, and racks. The storage facility is accessed through a mechanized device referred to as a ‘shuttle'.  This is a mechanical system that closely resembles a cherry picker. The shuttle can be manual or computerized.


In some cases, the shuttle is integrated into the current computer network for easier stock control. The main types of engineered systems include:

  • Robotic delivery systems
  • Conveyor systems
  • Automated guided vehicles


Industrial Trucks


This is another broad term that is applied in equipment used for material transportation. They can be small and hand operated or heavy-motorized vehicles. Some of them such as pallet trucks have wheels for added mobility. Others have additional features such as forks or flat surface for easy insertion into pallets.


Trucks have the capability to lift materials through manual or automated means. The steering can also be manual or automated in a predefined track on the production floor, colored strips or raised tracks. The automated models also have anti-collision sensors that help to enhance safety in the workplace. The main types of industrial trucks include:

  • Order pickers
  • Pallet jacks
  • Side-loads
  • Automated guided vehicles
  • Hand and pallet trucks
  • Walking stackers


Storage and Handling Equipment

The category of equipment is used for storing and is not computerized. If automated, they fall under the category, engineered systems.


The equipment is used to hold materials that are not being used and waiting to enter or leave the production system. The storage time could be short-term or long-term based on the production process. The common storage and handling equipment include shelves, racking, and pallets for keeping the materials before transportation.


Having suitable storage equipment is crucial to enhancing the efficiency of your system. It is also crucial in optimizing the space in your industrial system. This implies that you can stock more materials to maintain the workflow for a longer period without worrying about restocking. The main types of storage and handling equipment:

  • Shelving
  • Sliding racks
  • Pallet racks
  • Push-back racks
  • Stacking frames


If you want to increase the productivity of your industrial system, it is prudent to invest in the right material handling and storage equipment. The above list provides insights into different pieces of equipment that you can choose for your system.