Any business that deals with a lot of product and material handling, in general, requires appropriate material handling equipment to ensure efficiency and safety. When talking about material handling equipment, I’m talking about a wide range of vehicles, tools, storage solutions and accessories involved in the transport, storage and protection of products at any stage of manufacturing, distribution or disposal of the said products. That being said, every facility has different requirements when it comes to material handling equipment and thus, different pieces are used for different applications. Platform Lifts are much more than just machines. Making homes, public buildings and workplaces accessible is both hugely rewarding and satisfying. 

Regardless, there are a few pieces that are considered basic and can be found in virtually any industrial facility, including storage equipment, industrial trucks and bulk material handling equipment. Moreover, every facility that deals with large quantities of materials and products needs to have a proper way to dispose of waste, which is what the second part of this article will focus on.

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Storage Equipment

Storage equipment is generally limited to non-automated equipment and is used to buffer or hold materials for times when they’re not transported from one point to another. This can be either short-term or long-term storage. The most popular pieces of material storage equipment are pallets, racks and shelves, all of which provide an orderly manner to store products that await transportation.

  • Racks – This type of storage solution includes pallet racks, sliding racks, drive-through and drive-in racks, all of which provide valuable storing methods that help you make the most out of your floor space while keeping the materials or products stored on them accessible.
  • Storage Frames – This type of storage comes in the form of stackable-like blocks. They provide inventory such as liquid containers to be stacked in order to save space and reduce the chances of damage.
  • Shelves – Shelves are another popular storage method that’s less open than racks, but are ideal for storing smaller and harder to manage materials. There are various types of shelving storage available, including tie-down, cantilever and boltless. 

Industrial Trucks

Industrial trucks refer to any type of transportation equipment used to move things. It can include equipment such as lifting trolleys, pallet jacks and forklifts. All of these devices feature a range of characteristics that make them suitable for specific applications. Some feature forks, like the forklift, a flat surface, like the manual lifting trolley, etc. 

Additionally, they can be separated based on whether they’re manually or electrically operated. Electrically operated industrial trucks are more convenient to use, but generally more expensive. While manually operated industrial trucks require some physical labour, they still greatly reduce the stress put on the operator. Here are some of the most popular types of industrial material handling trucks.

  • Manual Lifting Trolley – The most basic type of industrial track. Features a flat platform to place the materials on, and a handle for leverage. They make transporting items easier as their design allows the items to be tipped so that they rest on the handle and can be carried at a tilt. You can find a manual lifting trolley suitable for the size and weight of items needed to be carried. 
  • Pallet Trucks – These are specifically designed for transporting pallets. They slide into the pallet and lift it before transporting it. Pallet jacks are available as electric-powered and manual.
  • Platform Trolleys – Similar to manual lifting trolleys, except they’re lower to the ground and feature a wider platform.

Bulk Material Handling Equipment

The equipment in this category includes pieces meant for storing, controlling and transporting products and materials in loose bulk form, such as minerals, liquids, food, etc. The most popular pieces of bulk material handling equipment are conveyors, drums, hoppers and elevators. All of these are specifically designed to deal with products and items in loose form, and move them in large quantities. 

Material Waste Management

There are a few crucial steps that every manager or owner should take in order to ensure proper material waste management. The most important two are identifying the waste your facility creates and the waste streams. After these have been established, you then need to figure out ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose of the waste appropriately. Last but not least, you should train your employees and ensure they’re up-to-date with your latest procedures.

Identifying the Waste

First things first, run a waste audit so you can come up with an adequate strategy. If some of your waste is regulated medical waste, you need to contact professionals who can get rid of it appropriately. If the waste is mostly wastewater that should be treated before being disposed of, you’ll need to contact a company that has a dedicated facility in doing so. Audits are also beneficial for figuring whether your facility generates excessive waste. If most of your waste is sustainable, but there’s something in particular that creates disproportionate amounts of waste, you can focus your efforts on that specific problem.

Identifying Waste Streams

As you can tell, not all waste is disposed of the same. You want to know exactly how much of your waste is hazardous, and how much of it is non-hazardous. On top of that, you want to know how much of the waste comes in solid, and how much of it comes in liquid form. All of this information will help you develop strategies and methods that ensure compliance with laws and regulations. You can even take it further and categorise the waste as vegetative, contaminated, electronic, etc. Some waste streams will require the help of professional services that can mitigate the risks and ensure safe practices. 

Training Employees

Even if you put together the best waste management plan, it will do you no good if your employees aren’t up to date with your latest procedures. You want everyone to keep up with the latest policies and you have to make sure you set up training sessions to ensure they’re familiar with them. The training sessions should include showcasing your sustainability targets to give your employees context for the changes and to provide them with goals they strive for.

Final Thoughts

The material handling industry is vast and there are many things that need to be taken into account to ensure efficiency and safety. Fortunately, we have access to all the information we need online. There are also professional services you can refer to that can help you put together the best material and waste handling systems. While it may seem like hiring professionals is an expensive endeavour, you can end up saving money in the long run by having a well-run facility that’s in compliance with all the relevant rules and regulations.