Materials handling is a catch phrase that you might hear often that covers a wide swath of industrial distribution. But what exactly is materials handling equipment? A broad definition might be any equipment that comes in contact with a product that helps to move or store that product. A material handling system on the other hand is when more than one item is being used to move products in a systematic format. Read on for a more comprehensive breakdown of what materials handling equipment is.
A great example of a material handling system would be the typical shipping dock. The product being shipped is stored on industrial pallet racks. The shipping clerk uses a lift truck to pull a skid of product from the rack and bring it to the ground. The clerk then loads the pallet onto a manual or automatic pallet truck, and rolls the product to his semiautomatic stretch wrap machine. After the pallet is wrapped, it is moved to a floor scale. The next step would be the clerk filling out his shipping documentation on his shippers' desk, and loading the pallet with the use of his dock plate onto a truck.
In the above example, the following items are each classified as a piece of material handling equipment: pallet racks, lift truck, pallet truck, stretch wrap machine, floor scale, shippers' desk, and the dock plate. Collectively, they are all part of an integrated industrial material handling system.
Materials handling goes way beyond the example above, however. Some materials handling systems include hoists. A hoisting system can include a jib or gantry crane, powered or hand hoists, and of course the hoist trolley and end stop. Other parts of the system include under-the-hook devices such as spreaders, coil grabbers, and skid lifters. And let's not forget the ever handy hoist sling, which is designed for dependable lifting - even of items with delicate polished surfaces.
Other materials handling systems are conveyor centric, which may include rollers, conveyor frames, casters, and dock boards for unloading items from the back of a truck onto the conveyors. The most extreme materials handling systems involve container handling. With a container handling system a 40,000 pound container can be grabbed by an overhead gantry and stripped off its container ship in a matter of minutes - a marvel of modern technology.
As you can see, a lot of time, effort and materials handling equipment go into the transportation of a wide variety of items all across the United States, in a wide variety of industries. And now you know what materials handling equipment is!
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