Industrial Material Handling Methods

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A forklift facilitates material handling on the shop floor.
A forklift facilitates material handling on the shop floor. (Image: forklift image by Michael Cornelius from Fotolia.com)

Industrial workers handle different materials using a variety of methods. Equipment to handle the material come in various shapes and sizes, and workers should choose the type of equipment that is suitable for the task. There are also certain safety principles for material handling that workers should keep in mind.

Conveyors

Industries use conveyors to transport materials over a fixed path. They could use conveyors either to move materials from one point to another, or to move materials through various stages such as receiving, packaging and shipping. This industrial material handling method is suitable when the load is uniform and constant, and there is no traffic interference on the route. There are different types of conveyors, such as gravity conveyors and conveyors that are driven by chains.

Overhead Handling Methods

Overhead materials handling methods include the use of cranes and hoists. A hoist is a device that helps lift and lower a load. Hoists can be operated manually or could be automated. A crane is a hoist that has a trolley base. These methods help make use of overhead space to move materials around in an industrial facility. They also help free up floor space. They reduce the material handling time by taking the shortest route between two spots.

Industrial Trucks

Industrial trucks, such as forklifts, help provide flexible handling of material. This type of equipment can take a number of paths to get to their destination. A forklift uses a pair of forks to lift and move materials. Lift trucks are another sort of industrial truck. These may be manually operated or could require diesel, gasoline or some other fuel. The operator may walk behind the lift truck, or ride in the lift truck, depending on the truck model.

Material Handling Practices

The best way to handle materials is to minimize handling. This makes for the most economy. Standardization of equipment and methods of handling helps cut down on the cost of handling material by simplifying maintenance, repair and storage aspects. Choosing a material handling method is based on the volume of material involved. Planning in advance is another aspect of material handling. Such planning involves taking into account safety hazards, the possibility of combining loads, any physical or legal restrictions to moving the load, and protecting the material against breakage.

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