Material and Equipment Handling
Material and Equipment Handling
Moving heavy materials and equipment can be quite the heavy task for any business of today. In order to meet on-the-dot shipment dates and production schedules that cannot be delayed the necessary handling tools for transporting heavy items should always be available for any company.
One of the most useful tools inside a warehouse for moving materials and equipment is the pallet truck or pallet jack as some would call it. Before there were only manual trucks available. Later on electric and hydraulic trucks were developed for greater efficiency, convenience as well as much heavier loads.
There are also tilt-trucks for temporarily storing and dumping waste materials, light service carts for carrying smaller hand tools and equipment, and different shapes and sized of hand trucks which can be used to move appliances.
However, not just any handling tool would do. Factors such as the durability, load capacity, safety and affordability need to be carefully considered. More importantly, the user of any handling tool should also know what specific issues need to be addressed in moving materials and equipment within the warehouse to determine more easily the type of handling tool to be used.
How heavy is your load?
The first question to ask is: What will I move? Whether they are light as toolkits or as heavy as automobile engines, the actual weight of the items that need to be transported within the warehouse should first be determined.
The amount of load will definitely be a key factor in choosing the capacity of the truck or cart to be used. Lighter materials and equipment can be moved through the use of plastic-made service carts. Refrigerators and cabinets may be moved by using an appropriate hand truck, while a pallet truck can carry a cash vault weighing as much as 11,000 pounds or five and a half tons!
For those who are still not aware, a hydraulic pump is a necessary feature in any pallet truck of today. Remember that in purchasing any pallet truck, the hydraulic seals should be air-tight and dustproof so that the tool will be assured a longer life.
Make sure that you choose a truck or cart that will not only be able to carry the heaviest material or equipment that you currently have inside the warehouse, but also choose one that has allowance for extra weight just in case unexpected heavier items would be need to be moved. The amount of allowance should be carefully determined beforehand.
Have you ever had the problem of parking your car especially when double parked vehicles narrowed the parking space to a one-way-alley? The same could be said of a full warehouse where twisting and turning of transport equipment would be difficult. This can spell inefficiency, especially if materials and finished goods need to be delivered to their respective production plants and clientele immediately.
Service carts usually have little to no problems in getting around even with limited space. Pallet trucks on the other hand could sometimes have much difficulty turning at tight corners. The kind of handling tool that you would need in this situation is one that does not only steer in as much as a 200-degree angle, but one that allows for perpendicular or lateral movement, much like the usual lateral truck. Its steering handle should be able to turn sideways and a lock should keep the perpendicular direction of the steer-wheels. The front wheels should also be able to move or turn sideways, yet commonly, an extra pair of wheels is installed just in front of the front wheels and made for lateral movement. This feature allows the user to move forward and sideways which can be a lot of help in tight areas. There would be no need anymore for rearranging in small warehouses.
Safety and Comfort
Common problems involving palette trucks include 1) employees backing into walls, 2) employees running over their own feet, 3) falling equipment on employees and 4) muscle strain, while service carts are observed more often for corrosion, steering problems and leaks.
Fortunately, most companies add features such as ergonomic steering handles, which address issue number 4 above and dead-man switches to prevent issues 1, 2 and 3 as well as other unnecessary accidents in transporting goods from warehouse to warehouse. Make sure that these two features are always considered along with the truck's capacity.
In selecting quality service carts and hand trucks, durability becomes the number one factor. Rugged utility plastic carts should be preferred over steel counterparts to avoid corrosion and dents, especially if they are to be used for food delivery purposes or other delivery activities involving liquids.
However, solid steel carriers needed for carrying much heavier loads should be made of genuine, stainless steel and top shelves or decks should be with vinyl mats or similar materials in order to prevent sliding of equipment.
Additional Features If you would prefer machines that have multiple uses, today's electric palette trucks may also come equipped with digital scales and mounted sensors, electronic lift and unloading controls, three-position hand controls, pneumatic wheels and portability features.
Digital scales and mounted sensors increase productivity by automatically reading the weight of the palette load the moment the palette truck loads. Some digital displays also have weight-unit conversion features.
Be warned. Cheap imitations of sensors can break and malfunction with only little use. That is why it is best that the user first confirms that the manufacturer of the palette truck to be purchased is trusted.
Electronic lift and unloading is becoming more and more of a basic feature of most palette trucks as users could save the trouble of having to crank the jack repeatedly in order to lift the palette load.
Pneumatic Wheels save floors from being scratched and damaged when moving materials and equipment.
Portability features may also be considered in selecting the best handling tool for a user, as different types of hand and service carts could be folded or disassembled in order to fit into car trunks, cabinets and whatnot.
And finally, palette truck users can also make use of adjustable fork-width features especially for palettes of different sizes and alignment purposes.
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