What is material handling equipment?

Handheld barcode scanners are a type of material handling equipment.

Material handling equipment includes all machines and devices used to move goods in a factory or warehouse. This term may also include equipment necessary to transport these goods from the warehouse to the final consumer. The selection of material handling equipment 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. Generally, different types of material handling equipment are divided into categories based on the role they play in the manufacturing process.

Forklifts can be used to handle and transport heavy materials.

Transport-related material handling equipment includes indoor and outdoor 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 storage or packing room. Outside the factory, transportation-related equipment often refers to commercial trucks or containers used to move goods to stores and other outlets.

Load forming material handling equipment includes bulk handling containers such as grain silos.

Positioning equipment refers to devices used to reposition materials and products. This can include automated robots or feeders that precisely orient parts to fit assembly line equipment. It also refers to tilting or transferring 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.

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

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Storage and retrieval equipment refers to all shelves or shelves used to store products after production. This includes warehouse shelving or shelving systems, as well as boxes and cabinets used for smaller goods. It may also refer to silos or drums used to store liquids and other bulk items prior to shipment. Products that are stored directly on pallets or on the floor do not include any type of storage equipment in most cases.

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

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