What’s Material Handling Equipment?

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Material handling equipment moves goods in factories and warehouses, and includes transportation, positioning, cargo forming, and storage and retrieval equipment. It can impact productivity and profit margins. It may also include systems to track goods, such as inventory control software and barcodes.

Materials handling equipment includes all the machinery and devices used to move goods in a factory or warehouse. This term may also include the equipment required to transport such goods from warehouse to the final consumer. Material handling equipment selection can be critical to the success of a manufacturer or industry. Depending on the application, this equipment can impact everything from productivity to profit margins. In general, the different types of material handling equipment are categorized based on the role they play in the manufacturing process.

Transportation related material handling equipment includes both internal and external machinery. Within the factory, this equipment may refer to a crane, conveyor belt, hoist, or forklift used to move materials. This category of equipment can travel between production areas or from an assembly line to a warehouse or packing room. Outside of the factory, transportation-related equipment generally refers to commercial trucks or shipping containers used to move goods to shops and other retail outlets.

Positioning equipment refers to devices used to reposition materials and products. These can include robots or automated feeders that precisely orient parts to feed them into assembly line equipment. Also refers to tilting or transfer tables that raise or lower pallets and assembled goods. Finally, positioning equipment may include elevators or hoists used to store materials on shelves in a warehouse.

Cargo forming material handling equipment includes packing machinery used to prepare goods for shipment. This includes pallets and skids used to stack products as well as boxes and crates. It can also refer to shrink wrapping machines or other packaging materials. This category of material handling equipment also includes bulk material handling containers, which contain products such as grain, liquids or oil.

Storage and retrieval equipment refers to any shelving or racking used to house goods after production. This includes shelving or shelving systems for warehouses as well as containers and cabinets used for smaller goods. It can also refer to silos or drums used to store liquids and other bulk items before shipment. Products that are stored directly on pallets or on the floor in most cases do not include any type of storage equipment.

Some definitions of material handling equipment also include the systems used to track these goods as they move through the manufacturing and distribution process. Inventory control software programs fall into this category, as do tags or barcodes used to identify packages. Finally, portable barcode or magnetic stripe readers also belong to this category of equipment.

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