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What are the Different Types of Material Handling Equipment?

Material Handling Equipment are the devices used to aid warehouse functionality through the loading, moving, and storing of goods. This encompasses a wide variety of tools, vehicles, and storage facilities but can be divided largely into four categories. These are: storage and handling equipment, engineered systems, industrial material handling trucks, and bulk material handling equipment. Material handling equipment is crucial for the success of a company by eliminating the risks of damage and loss through improper storage or handling, and increasing the efficiency and capacity of work.

Storage and Handling Equipment

Storage and handling equipment is limited to non-automated examples, usually consisting of pallets, racks, or shelves. These are some of the most significant features of a warehouse, holding stock until needed and when used correctly and adeptly can enable a huge increase in both efficiency and productivity.

For more information on the different types and uses of pallet racking, see here.

Engineered Systems

Engineered systems cover a wide range of units that work cohesively to enable the storage and transportation of goods. These are often completely automated and can act as a shuttle system of retrieval to easily find and select items.

Automated Storage and Retrieval systems are one such example, where a large automated organisational structure is fitted with a mechanised cherry picker to locate and retrieve objects quickly.

Conveyor systems are mechanical assemblies used to transport goods around the warehouse and vary depending on what goods they are moving. They can be overhead, vertical, chain, or apron conveyors.

Automated Guided Vehicles are independent computer operated trucks which transport goods along a predefined route and take away the need for staff to drive and transport material.

Industrial Material Handling Trucks

Industrial Material Handling Trucks refer to the different kinds of transportation vehicles used to move goods and materials. This covers a broad scope of equipment, but there are two main types of trucks: stacking and non-stacking trucks. Stacking trucks can be used for loading and stacking products, while a non-stacking truck is simply for transportation. These trucks usually have attachments such as a flat service or forks that slide under pallets and make the transportation process easier

Hand Trucks are one of the most basic pieces of material handling equipment and feature a

small platform which slides under the edge of an object, and a long handle for leverage.

They are a practical form of transport for moving loads across short distances, and are relatively small so work well when navigating tight spaces.

Pallet and Platform Trucks are wider and low to the ground, specifically designed to slip under a pallet and lift it for transportation. They can be both manual and electric. They are a very basic form of forklift and one of the most common types of warehouse equipment.

They’re used to move materials and are often manually pushed, though there are powered

options available. Generally, they work best when used for relatively short distances and each have their own weight capacity which ensures they maintain a smooth running. Traditional models require narrow aisle dimensions of 9-11 feet, but newer electric models require only 4-5 feet of aisle space.

Walking Stackers lift and move materials like a forklift. They can be powered or manually

transported around a warehouse for less than five hours each day. It is recommended that they should be used indoors on concrete floors due to the small size of their wheels. They are a highly manoeuvrable truck that is able to work in compact spaces with an aisle width of eight feet. Walking stackers are most commonly used for mid-level selective racking applications with lifting heights from 1845mm-4255mm.

Order pickers lift the operator several feet above the ground on a platform so they can access hard-to-reach materials. They’re highly manoeuvrable and can go up to heights of 11m. Medium and high-level order pickers are typically used in larger warehouses where

companies have a high proportion of stock keeping units and need to pick across the face of the racking. A free-wheeling order picker requires 18 inches of clearance per side when moving down an unguarded aisle. A guided order picker requires only 6 inches of clearance per side. These both need an additional 40 inches of clear aisle.

Bulk Material Handling Equipment

Bulk material handling equipment refers to the equipment used to store, control, and transport materials in bulk form. These goods tend to be food, liquid, or metals, and are generally dealt with while loose, for example being moved or funnelled via conveyor belts.

Stackers move items from one point to another and automatically place products into stockpiles. Reclaimers then pick materials out of the stockpile.

Bucket elevators transport bulk materials vertically, using a system of buckets attached to a rotating chain or belt.

Hoppers are funnel shaped containers that allow material to be poured or dumped from one container to another. They are able to hold material until it’s needed, then release it.

DC Space & Storage Solutions offer a bespoke end-to-end service and can advise on all aspects of efficient warehouse use. Contact us today with any enquiries on 01392 927096, or email us at

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