Efficient material handling is crucial for any facility dealing with physical goods to operate smoothly and meet production goals. This equipment does the heavy lifting, freeing up staff to focus on other vital tasks. Read on for an introductory guide to material handling solutions.

Common Material Handling Equipment Types

Material handling equipment encompasses a wide variety of products that enable the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout facilities and supply chains. Choosing the right equipment is crucial to create efficient workflow and meet operational requirements.

Conveyor Systems: Conveyors efficiently transport items from one place to another using motorized belts, rollers, wheels, gravity, water or air. Types of conveyors include belt conveyors, roller conveyors, wheel conveyors, pneumatic conveyors, chutes and more. They can be configured in straight lines or integrate curves, merges, diverters and other customizations.

Forklifts: Forklifts leverage two horizontal prongs to lift and transfer loads. Walkie rider forklifts allow an operator to also walk alongside the truck. Pallet jacks feature a set of forks but are manually powered. Stackers have telescoping forks to place and retrieve loads from racks and shelving up to 25 feet high. Side loaders and swing mast forklifts access trailers from the side.

Container Sideloader: Container side loaders are specialized material handling equipment designed specifically for loading and unloading intermodal shipping containers from trucks or railcars. Featuring a movable hydraulic lifting boom/fork assembly mounted on one side, side loaders can access containers from either ground level or transportation vehicles with extra horizontal reach. Unlike top loaders, side loaders do not stack containers but their side access still provides ergonomic loading/offloading. Their versatility supports efficient transport distribution operations moving containers between trucks, trains, and storage areas.

Cranes: Bridge cranes consist of parallel runways with a traveling bridge spanning the length to lift suspended hooks or magnets. Jib cranes pivot at the floor or ceiling with horizontal arms tilting to maneuver loads. Gantry cranes move on overhead beams to cover more territory. Container cranes specifically load and unload intermodal containers from vessels.

Hoists: Hoists are suspended lifting devices that provide straight vertical transportation via chains, wire ropes or rigid segments. They save space and easily integrate with cranes and trolleys. Common types are electric hoists, pneumatic hoists, chain hoists and manual hoists.

Storage Solutions: Racks, shelves, bins and lockers optimize organization. Automated storage and retrieval systems store and discharge items with precision. Modular drawers on movable carriages boost density. Rotating carousels also conserve space. Refrigerated and climate-controlled options handle temperature-sensitive goods. Customizable storage keeps everything accessible.

Key Benefits of Material Handling Equipment

Implementing the right material handling equipment provides significant advantages across warehouse and factory operations:

Increased Productivity

Automated conveyor belts, cranes and storage systems allow faster transfer of inventory which maximizes staff efficiency. Operators can fulfill more orders accurately per day. Intelligent controls also enable precise stock tracking.

Forklifts with ergonomic controls lifts support faster pallet movement. Their lift heights reach important top shelving while still being maneuverable in tight aisles.

Mobile equipment like carts, lifts and portable conveyors boost warehouse mobility so less worker transit time lowers costs.

Optimized Space Utilization

High-density storage solutions fully utilize vertical and horizontal capacity via compact industrial shelving units and automated stacking cranes reaching up to 40 feet high. This significantly multiplies inventory capacity.

Rotating vertical carousels also save floor space. Certain high performance units can hold up to 3,500 pounds per shelf.

Enhanced Safety

Engineering controls like warning alarms, emergency stops, speed restrictions, and proximity sensors prevent accidents. Platform lifts also provide stability when moving up and down.

Ergonomic assist equipment reduces lifting injuries. Scissor lifts raise platforms to minimize bending and reaching. Manipulators securely grasp items so no manual lifting is needed.

Higher Accuracy & Inventory Control

Barcode scanners, RFID tags, integrated scales, and advanced software interface with warehouse management and ERP systems to track all inventory in real-time, ensuring extremely accurate order fulfillment and reordering. This minimizes costly errors and production delays.

Things to Consider Before Selecting the Equipment

Weight Capacities and Load Dimensions – Conduct detailed assessments of current and future goods moved through manufacturing, warehouses and distribution channels. This encompasses everything from individual item weights and dimensions to aggregated palletized volumes at peak capacity. Right-size equipment accordingly while allowing overhead for seasonal spikes or business growth.

Required Throughput Volumes – Analyze hourly, daily and annual throughput needs per product line or facility area during regular and peak order periods. Size equipment so maximum rated capacities and processing speeds exceed highest projected volumes with comfortable margins.

Facility Layout and Space Constraints – Carefully measure available floor space, aisle widths, door clearances, lobby and ramp dimensions, ceiling heights and vertical storage densities. Compare these against equipment footprints both stationary and in motion to ensure adequate room for safe operation and transit flows. Account for maneuverability challenges created by pillars and uneven surfaces.

Equipment Condition – Whether renting equipment in logistics hubs like Dubai with leading transport companies in Dubai, or major ports such as Rotterdam and Shanghai, partner with reputable suppliers maintaining modern fleets to required safety standards. Multi-national rental firms can ensure properly serviced machinery, but also consider specialized regional companies meeting local regulations.

Power Infrastructure – Catalog existing electrical outlets, battery recharging stations and backup generators on-site. Ensure sufficient power outlets located conveniently to support all operating equipment without hazardous cord routing.

Worker Safety Protocols – Conduct exhaustive risk assessments to identify potential safety hazards related to moving components, lifting dangers, falls, pinching points and more. Develop robust procedures, barriers, training programs and personal protective equipment requirements to mitigate risks.

Work Environment Considerations – Determine if environmental conditions will impact material integrity or degrade equipment over shorter lifetimes. Consider extremes like outdoor heat, refrigeration, excess moisture, corrosive chemicals or particulate debris. Implement special safeguards to protect goods and machinery.

Regulatory Compliance – Research all relevant local, state and federal regulations related to equipment safety certifications, mandated features, emission levels, and allowable noise production. Customize selections accordingly.

Consulting a qualified material handling equipment dealer to analyze your workflow, facility infrastructure and requirements is wise. While buying used can save money upfront, the latest technology/safety advances may warrant investing in new equipment.


The right forklifts, conveyors, cranes and hoists simplify moving high volumes of varying materials safely and efficiently. This optimized handling keeps operations running on time and on budget. Evaluating budget, space constraints, safety imperatives and possible work environment impacts leads to ideal solutions for your unique operation.

Automating transport lets staff invest time in more value-adding tasks, boosting productivity and profits. Assess your material volumes, space and infrastructure to leverage the best available equipment combinations for smooth material handling.