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Taking a Look at the Most Important Types of Materials Handling Equipment

Materials handling is the process of moving, lifting, lowering, carrying, conveying or disposing of materials. It is a key component of manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. It can be done manually with equipment like hand trucks and carts, or it can be automated with machines like forklifts and conveyors. There are many different types of materials handling equipment with varying levels of sophistication. This article will detail the most important types that are used in various industries to move materials from one place to another.

Materials Handling Equipment Types

Materials handling equipment is used across almost every industry you can think of. While there are some general equipment types, such as step ladders and workbenches, there are some that are specific to certain industries such as postal scales. This article will briefly go over some of the most important equipment types. 

Pallet Jacks

Pallet jacks are one of the most common types of materials handling equipment in the world. They’re very versatile and can be used to move pallets in all directions, depending on the application. They’re commonly used in warehouses and can also handle other items like drums and boxes.


Conveyors are used to move materials horizontally, with an option for vertical movement. They come in many different varieties and are capable of moving materials at different speeds or in different directions depending on how they’re programmed.


Forklifts are a type of material handling equipment used for transporting heavy loads that cannot be easily carried by hand. They can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications and have a wide range of configurations to meet different needs. Forklifts are critical to 

Order Pickers

Order pickers can be manual or automated devices that are used to pick items off shelves and move them to a packaging and distribution area. They’re used to access items on high shelves safely and to seamlessly move between the aisles of a warehouse. Order pickers are heavily relied upon in warehouses for eCommerce websites.

Which Industries Use Materials Handling Equipment?

Materials handling equipment can be found across most, if not all, industries. Handling equipment and supplies make materials handling tasks safer and more efficient, making them suitable for many situations, but they’re especially useful for sensitive and dangerous tasks. 

Although most commonly found in the warehousing/logistics industry, materials handling equipment is also heavily relied upon in the postal, hospitality and retail industries. Due to various health and safety regulations, most businesses would be unable to operate without employing some degree of materials handling equipment. Safely storing poisonous chemicals, gases and dangerous objects as well as having equipment on hand to transport fragile items safely is critical for businesses to ensure they pass their health and safety inspections. 

Many types of materials handling equipment exist, but the ones listed above are the most common and important. This equipment can be found in almost any industry and ranges from the most basic to the more sophisticated, with prices and applications differing accordingly. It’s important to understand what equipment your company needs before committing to a purchase so you can ensure the safety of yourself and your employees.

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