Businesses use a wide variety of material handling equipment in their daily operations. This article explains the categories of equipment and shares several examples that could help you understand the different gear in action.
This refers to the equipment used in transporting materials from one location to another. For instance, moving materials from the storage area to the construction site or between workplaces and loading docks. Transport equipment has 3 subcategories, namely conveyors, industrial trucks and cranes. Here are some examples:
- Conveyors: Roller conveyor, chute conveyor, flat belt conveyor, screw conveyor, cart-on-track conveyor, monorail and sortation conveyor.
- Cranes: Stacker crane, jib crane, gantry crane and bridge crane.
- Industrial Trucks: Counterbalanced lift truck, automatic guided vehicle (AGV), order picker, side loader, narrow-aisle reach truck and pallet truck.
This refers to the equipment used in one location. The main purpose is to position the material correctly so it is ready for the succeeding machining, storage, transport or handling. Positioning equipment is used at a single location only. Examples of positioning equipment are dock leveler, rotary index table, parts feeder, ball transfer table, hoist, manipulator and industrial robots.
Unit Load Formation Equipment
This refers to the equipment used to maintain the materials’ integrity during single-load handling for both transport and storage. Examples of these are pallets, slip sheets, tote pans, bins, racks, cartons, bags, crates, intermodal containers, shrink wrap and baskets.
This refers to the equipment used in holding or storing materials for a period of time. Examples of these are selective pallet racks, flow-through racks, sliding racks, cantilever racks, storage carousels, automatic storage/retrieval systems (AS/RS) and mezzanine.
Identification and Control Equipment
This includes the equipment used in gathering the information relevant to the coordination of the flow of materials inside a facility. This also covers the communication of the said collected information. This is not limited to a single facility alone. It could also include the collection and communication of data between facilities, business and vendors and business and consumers. Examples of identification and control equipment are bar codes, magnetic stripes, machine vision, electronic data interchange (EDI) or internet and radio frequency (RF) tags.