Articles

What is a Material Handling Equipment Supplier?

by Simon Unicomb, 11 February 2022

The global material handling equipment market was a $26.3 billion industry in 2020.

With eCommerce on the rise, COVID-19 putting pressure on the supply chain, and the cost of labour steadily increasing, more and more companies are looking to increase their productivity.

One of the most significant aspects of manufacturing is the movement of supplies, but human error and slow supply movement can be costly for companies of all sizes. 

So, if you’re looking to make your manufacturing more efficient and productive, this is the article for you. Let's take a look at what a material handling equipment supplier is and why they're so important.

What's a Material Handling Equipment Supplier?

To understand what a material handling equipment supplier is, you first need to know about material handling.

Material handling or material movement describes how goods and materials are transported, stored, and distributed through the supply chain.

Businesses looking to optimise this process have turned to material handling equipment suppliers to furnish them with the tools they need.

Let's now turn our attention to material handling equipment types.

Transportation Equipment

This includes any equipment used for bringing goods from one place to another. Within the manufacturing process, this can also relate to shipping and distribution.

  • Conveyors: lts carry materials from one fixed point to another. Conveyors can carry individual units, which are often assembled using unit load conveyors. They can also carry materials in bulk, such as raw or unorganised material, using bulk load conveyors.
  • Industrial Trucks: These include various truck types with different capacity, loading, and unloading capabilities.For instance, hand trucks are one of the most common types. They're used for lifting and then carrying heavy items to their destination.

Loading Equipment

Loading and transport work closely together. Much of the equipment used in transportation is also used for loading and unloading. Other types of equipment are specifically used for loading.

  • Hoists: Hoists are used to lift heavy loads. These can be both electrical and manual.
  • Slip-sheets: Products are inserted inside on a slip sheet tab or edge. You can then use slip-sheets to pull and push items out of position.

Organising and Positioning Equipment

Bulk materials (which often come in loose, raw form) need organising and positioning to be stored effectively. While conveyor belts can filter for certain types of products, it’s also common to use industrial robots and balancers.

Industrial robots can manage complex positioning and organising tasks such as picking and placing items on and off a conveyor.

Whereas balancers, as the name implies, provide help to balance products correctly. This helps to ensure they're stored for optimal spacing and remain undamaged.

Storage Equipment

Storage equipment relates to non-automated stages of product handling. For instance, units where items are kept such as:

  • Racks: Pallet racks, push-back racks, and drive-in racks can store materials on multiple levels.
  • Stacking frames: These are stackable structures containing various materials without damaging their content.
  • Shelves, bins, and drawers: These are used to sort and store smaller items.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) equipment work similarly to the equipment mentioned above but are automated by computer programs to store and retrieve items.

With all these kinds of equipment in mind, let’s look at why partnering with a material handling supplier company can be beneficial for your business.

The Benefits of Material Handling Equipment Suppliers

Efficiency

By utilising material handling equipment, you can speed up your production line and cut down on labour redundancies.

With proper machinery, you can reduce the risk of injury to your workers and save on hiring. No matter how dedicated your team, manual labour is prone to human error, and fatigue can slow production.

These problems are supplemented with the use of handling equipment. Not only can such machinery make your operation more productive, but it can also take some pressure off your workers. This, in turn, leads to better job satisfaction and long-term retainment.

Saving money

If you have fewer accidents and a faster production line, you can produce more and service more customers.

On the topic of customer satisfaction, the precision and efficiency of handling equipment can also reduce the number of damaged products.

And lastly, automated storage solutions can usually optimise spacing to maximise warehouse space. Again, this should help to save you money.

Choosing Material Handling Equipment Suppliers

 Now that we've covered the basics, let's take a look at some of the considerations to bear in mind as you go about selecting a suitable material equipment supplier for your business.

  • Specialisation

If you work in a particular industry, your equipment requirements might be best met by a supplier who can cater to the exact demands of your business.

First, look at whether the supplier has the right type of equipment to help you reach your goals. Then, ensure your supplier understands your needs from the start and compare other supplier services to ensure you are getting a good deal.

  • Reliability

Take a look at their customer service. Ask questions about what happens when a machine goes down and how they can help you after hours. All these things will matter when something goes wrong.

It is also worth checking their credentials with your local regulating authority. Make sure they are a registered supplier and look at their customer satisfaction ratings in reviews and feedback.

You can also get an overall idea of business success by looking at how they perform on the market. Look at their market shares to see if investors think they're a company worth investing in.

With all of this information, you can get a sense of whether you'll get the best value for your money.

  • Flexibility

You want to find a supplier who can adapt to your company's changing needs. First, ask yourself whether the supplier’s models are scalable. By this, we mean will they accommodate you as your business grows?

If you foresee your business gaining more customers or needing to handle more materials, consider whether the supplier has the equipment to meet those needs.

Are You Ready to Start Using a Material Handling Equipment Supplier?

We hope this has given you lots of information to support your search for a material handling equipment supplier. Are you looking for other ways to automate your supply chain? Read our article about what software integrations are available with TransVirtual.

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