Material handling equipment includes the tools, systems and technology that help move goods within a warehouse or factory. From conveyor belts to automated storage and retrieval systems, material handling equipment can be manual or fully-automated. It’s used in production, distribution and order fulfillment operations for a range of goods like food, beverages, metal items, minerals and more.
Most industries use some form of material handling equipment, whether it be for storing, shipping or transporting goods and materials over short distances. It’s essential to have good warehouse management and a well-planned material flow system in place as it can lead to fewer mistakes during storage or transport, and help your final goods get to retailers or wholesalers faster. It also prevents damaged products and dissatisfied customers.
Modern warehouses are using advanced material handling equipment to achieve better productivity and lower costs. With the right technology, warehouses can increase the amount of goods they store in a given space, reduce time spent on internal movements (like picking and transporting), control inventory in real-time and optimize overall handling operations within their facilities.
When selecting material handling equipment, it’s important to understand the type of loads that will be stored or moved and the type of environment where the operation will take place. For example, confined warehouse spaces with narrow aisles will favor equipment that can maneuver in tight clearances. Conversely, a facility that requires bulk transportation of heavy materials will need heavy-duty machines like silos, conveyor belts or hoppers to safely funnel the load into its destination.
As the demand for just-in-time distribution grows, so does the need for efficient warehouse material handling processes. These are driving many suppliers of warehouse and manufacturing automation technologies to higher levels of revenue. This year’s top material handling equipment suppliers, with 2022 revenues of $300 million or more, include robotic palletizing robots, automated high-density warehouse solutions, layer picking and repackaging systems, laser-guided vehicle systems, item order fulfillment and dynamic sortation platforms.
A good quality warehouse will have a combination of manual, semi-automated and fully-automated material handling systems in place. These will be based on the type of load you’re moving, how long it will stay in your storage facility or distribution center and your needs for future growth. These systems can include storage racks, mezzanines and elevated walkways that make it easier to navigate the facility, centralized control systems that improve overall workflow efficiency and intelligent robotics and automation solutions. Adding the right material handling equipment to your warehouse will reduce workplace accidents, save on labor costs and boost productivity. It can even allow you to sell more of your product to retailers and wholesalers because of the improved speed at which it gets from your warehouse to their stores. For these reasons, a quality material handling system is an essential investment for any company. This is particularly true in the United States where overexertion is a leading cause of disabling workplace injuries. To minimize your risk of accidents, it’s worth consulting a professional about the best safety practices for your workforce and the most appropriate handling equipment for your business.