Different Types of Material Handling Equipment
Basic Information about Material Handling Equipment
Material handling equipment are industrial devices that are used to move, transport, store, protect, handle and/ or dispose goods, products and materials. This equipment is generally used in large industries such as shipping and logistics, warehousing, pharmaceuticals, food industry, construction and manufacturing. Small and medium industries also used material handling equipment that is intended for smaller workload and applications.
Material handling equipment is used mainly to improve workers' performance and efficiency. These devices help greatly in decreasing unwanted accidents and muscle strain to laborers doing manual work such as lifting and moving bulk and heavy materials.
TYPES OF MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENT
Material handling equipment is divided into two major types: the conventional and the computer aided. As its name implies, conventional material handling equipment includes devices that run through manual power and those that runs with the aid of a more conventional mechanism. On the other hand, computer aided material handling equipment features more technologically advanced mechanism. Devices that are included in this type of material handling equipment are those that are connected and controlled by computers.
Conventional Material Handling Equipment
Conventional material handling equipment are non-automated devices that are run by traditional motorized system. Conventional material handling equipment is divided into three sub-categories, namely bulk material handling, storage equipment and industrial trucks.
1. Storage Equipment are equipment that are used mainly for storing products, components and other materials. These are mostly non-automated equipment with simple mechanism. This equipment allows the materials to sit around the facility without causing any delay or unwanted accidents. It helps in keeping the working area well organized and hazard-free. Examples of storage equipment are pallets, sliding racks, shelves, frames, bins and storage cabinets for gas cylinders and the likes.
2. Bulk Material Handling are equipment used for storing, handling and transporting bulk materials. This equipment can handle loose materials such as chemicals, foods, powdered minerals and others. Examples of bulk material handling equipment are stackers, bulk containers, silos, conveyors, reclaimer and grain elevators.
3. Industrial Trucks are motorized vehicles that are used to move and transport products, goods and materials. These trucks can run through manual or electrically powered mechanism and can be used for different applications. Examples of industrial trucks are pallet trucks, forklift, side loader, platform trucks, hand trucks, walkie stackers, cranes and order pickers.
Conventional MHE: Self Dumping Hoppers
Computer Aided Material Handling Equipment
We can refer to this type as the new generation material handling equipment. Computer aided material handling equipment are devices that are enhanced by the latest technological applications. These equipment are highly automated, thus these equipment can automatically adjust its settings and functions according to the changes in the system and the process. Computer aided material handling equipment are divided into three sub-categories namely robotic delivery system, computer controlled conveyor system and automated guided vehicles (AGV).
1. Robotic Delivery System is a very versatile type of computer aided material handling equipment. These are automated equipment used for material storage, retrieval and transporting, as well on assembly work and other applications. These robots can move backward and forward and can carry multiple loads at the same time. This system was first introduced 30 years ago and with the help of the latest technology, this system has improved greatly, making it a fundamental tool for logistics, warehousing and other industries. Examples of robotic delivery system are the mechanized cherry picker, the UNITX and Aethon's ARD among others.
2. Computer Controlled Conveyor System, as its name suggests, is a more technologically advanced conveyor system. This type of conveyor system continuously communicates with the central computer control system so it can be routed through the track network. These conveyor systems have scanner that can optically read markers that are situated into different zones. These are used to move, transport materials, faster and easier and with less human intervention. Examples of computer controlled conveyor system are those that are used in manufacturing, assembly and production.
3. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) are material handling equipment that are used to move or transport goods, parts and materials between workstations, work centers and other material handling machines. These are small, individually powered vehicles that are guided by power cables that are placed under the floor. Other times, AGV are guided by optical guidance system, which more advance and therefore expensive that is why only large industries used this system. AGV can be controlled by central computers or on-board computer control. Examples of Automated guided vehicles are unit-load AGV, tow-type AGV and fork truck among others.
Computer Aided Material Handling Equipment in Action
Pros and Cons of Using Material Handling Equipment
Both types helped greatly in improving the quality and quantity of employees’ productivity, as well as minimizing errors and accidents. Although both types can perform well accordingly to the specific applications the equipment is assigned to, both types also have their advantage and disadvantages.
- Lessen manual labor.
- Less shipping errors.
- Minimal damage on goods and materials.
- Less shipping and production costs.
- Lessen employees compensation claims therefore allows you to save more in the long run.
- Require fast data tracking and processing.
- Require reliable and fool-proof inventory management system.
- Require more free floor spaces so that equipment can move properly.
- Buying your own material handling equipment may require you to raise bigger funds or initial capital.
- Require you to set aside funds for maintenance and repair.