The term, "materials handling" covers a broad spectrum of industrial goods. The most obvious examples of these would be the equipment and containers that are directly involved with the process of moving items. In the industry, however, there are many other products that comprise a complete material handling system. |
On the warehouse floor, any motorized or manually operated piece of equipment that facilitates the movement of materials is defined as materials handling equipment. A forklift is an example of this. In fact, the forklift is the backbone of the warehouse. All the pallet rack systems are designed to accommodate the forklift. The warehousing industry would not be what it is today without forklifts.
There are dozens of other tools that are used in the warehouse in order to make the moving of materials more efficient and safer for the workers. Once a pallet is on the floor, manually powered pallet trucks are needed to move single pallets from one place to another.
While pallet trucks can efficiently move a full pallet of boxes of goods from one location to another, they are not efficient for moving just a few boxes from the pallet. That's where hand trucks are needed. With a hand truck, the materials handler is able to stack several boxes and easily move them from place to place - out to the loading dock, for instance.
Aside from those pieces of equipment that are needed for moving goods, there are many other things that are needed. In any warehouse, every inch of available space is maximized. This means that many things are stored out of reach. In order to get to them, you may need an assortment of ladders or electronically powered personnel lifts. These, too, are classified as materials handling equipment.
Wherever there is business going on, there is also the need for waste management. In the office, each worker needs a small waste receptacle at his work station. Out on the floor, the workers need larger plastic garbage cans of various sizes and to hold different types of waste materials. Outside, even bigger waste receptacles are needed for efficient storage until the waste is removed.
Then there is a class of equipment that is necessary for storing materials. Within this range of items would be included both stationary and moveable items. Utility carts are indispensable when a worker needs quick access to a variety of things that might otherwise be stored on stationary shelving units on the other end of the warehouse. Shelving units, whether stationary or moveable, are also classified as part of a materials or goods handling system.
As you can see, materials handling is the most vital component of warehousing. Every aspect of the warehouse depends on having the most time and labor saving devices you can get. While the initial cost of a fully efficient handling system may be high, the savings over time far outweigh the initial investment. A good materials handling supplier will have everything you need and have the expertise to help you choose the best supplies for your warehousing needs.
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