Material handling equipment enables your employees to move, package and house items more effectively than they can by themselves. This type of equipment includes vehicles, tools and storage systems that allow you to efficiently move materials from one place in your warehouse to another. An effective material flow helps your products reach wholesalers and retailers faster, making it possible for you to meet demand.
Without material handling equipment, your employees may struggle to keep up with the volume of goods that come into your facility. As a result, they can miss deadlines and cause delays for your clients. This type of mismanagement can hurt your brand image and lead to dissatisfied customers.
Using the right material handling equipment in your warehouse can save your business money. Machines can complete tasks in a fraction of the time it takes humans, which reduces labor costs and allows employees to work on more important jobs. Moreover, material handling equipment can prevent workplace accidents that can occur when employees attempt to lift heavy loads by hand. According to a 2021 study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, overexertion is the most common disabling workplace injury in the United States. By avoiding these hazards, you can protect your employees’ health and increase productivity.
There are many types of material handling equipment, but the best option for your warehouse depends on several factors. The size of your facility, its layout and how fast you need to move materials are all considerations. For example, large, motorized equipment like forklifts and cranes are ideal for larger facilities with long and wide aisles. These pieces of machinery can help you load and unload trucks quickly and efficiently.
A smaller, more portable option is a pallet truck. These manual-operated or powered industrial forklifts have a mast that lifts pallets up to heights of 10-30 feet. You can also use a walkie stacker, which is similar to a two-wheeled dolly but has an extended deck that allows you to pick up items off of the floor and put them on shelving. These machines can save you space and help your employees avoid musculoskeletal injuries caused by lifting heavy objects manually.
Other popular material handling equipment options include conveyor systems, item order fulfillment systems, racking and robotic delivery systems. These are usually part of a full system that’s designed to handle specific types of inventory. For example, an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is suitable for storing and transporting high-density items like metals and minerals in bulk.
When choosing a material handling equipment solution, it’s crucial to keep in mind Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines regarding mechanized equipment. These standards set forth safety regulations for workers operating the equipment, as well as the items being handled. You should familiarize yourself with the safety requirements for any items you plan to purchase or operate, as failure to follow these rules could lead to significant injuries or even a loss of your company’s assets.