Materials Handling Equipment: Making the Right Choices

By Justin Nielsen

If you start out with the right materials handling equipment, it will work for you. On the other hand, if you choose inappropriate equipment, it can work against you and the efficiency and productivity of your business. How do you choose the most efficient equipment for your workplace?

Materials handling equipment virtually defines the industrial revolution. Imagine where we would be without the conveyors that are at the heart of the production line. The standardization of containers for shipping goods revolutionized the world economy. In the factory and warehouse, the forklift and pallet have increased productivity tenfold or more.

In spite of the obvious value and efficiency of this kind of machinery, it is surprising how many businesses still fail to utilize it to its full potential. Usually, the reasons why businesses don’t use materials handling equipment to its full potential is because they don’t properly assess their needs.

“We need a new forklift,” the foreman says and the factory or warehouse owner agrees. But which forklift do you need? Do you need one with the reach of your current forklift or would it be worth it to upgrade to a triple mast forklift for greater reaching capacity. Sometimes, a single decision like this can make a huge difference to your current and future productivity, efficiency and profits or losses.

An example of this is a small manufacturing company with only a half dozen employees. The most expensive piece of materials handling equipment in the shop is a single mast pallet jack that is put to use every day. The owner decides to trade it in for a forklift. This is a big expense for the small company, so he decides to stick with a single mast vehicle.

Soon after purchasing his new forklift, he finds that he needs a new large piece of machinery – a lathe. The trouble is, he doesn’t have enough floor space for it. What is he going to do? Does he have to look for new premises? What will that cost?

He looks up and realizes that while he has limited floor space, he has plenty of height to work with. If he had purchased a double mast forklift, he could dismantle two rows of pallet racks and stack them on top of his other racks. That alone would give him more than enough floor space for the new machinery he needs. He kicks himself for not thinking of that sooner, but bites the bullet and upgrades his forklift.

This is just one example of how carefully analyzing your materials handling equipment needs can drastically effect your business. It can work in the other direction, too. Sometimes, businesses have more equipment than they need. In order to get the materials handling equipment that is right for you, consult an expert from an established industrial supply company. Such a company will have seen everything in its many years of operation. Their representatives can be of invaluable assistance to you.

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