Materials Handling Equipment and Accessories

A few of the materials handling equipment often used in various industries are mentioned below:

Hand Truck: This is manually operated truck to carry small quantities of solid materials. In this there are some versions where a small platform is fined sometimes with a hydraulic unit which helps to lower or raise the platform by a few inches so as to facilitate the loading and unloading of the truck. Another version of these hand trucks is the pallet truck where instead of a platform, a fork is fitted and therefore these trucks are of use in handling pallets on which oil containers, small barrels, component parts or other items can be kept and transported.

Pulley Blocks: These are many a time to lift heavy weights occasionally. The pulleys help in reducing the load on the operator.

Pulleys are quite common as a make shift devise in construction places where heavy piece of equipment have to be fixed at a height. For regular use, sometimes these pulley blocks are used in conjunction with mono-rail so that the load can be transported from one area to another.

Chutes: Sometimes chutes are also used for dropping the materials from the upper floor to the floor below. But this is suitable only for certain kinds of materials which can be handled roughly.

Roller Conveyors: For heavy packages of goods sometimes roller conveyors are used, when such movement is required on a regular basis.

Fork Lift Truck: One of the most widely used and extremely helpful equipments in materials handling has been the Fork Lift Truck. This could be either battery-operated or diesel operated. It has a fork (or two prongs) which can be inserted into the pallet and, thus the load is lifted. The fork can move vertically in most of the versions of this truck; this helps in stacking the pallets at different levels in the store house. Some machines have a ‘reach’ mechanism so that the fork can be moved horizontally while the rest of the machine remains stable. This is definitely advantageous when the materials are to be handled in narrow aisles. However, the forklifts are not usually designed for heavy loads; also they are basically for short distance movements. Fork lifts require a suitable design of aisles exits, doorways, etc. Needless to mention that of fork lifts would mean the use of associated pallets as well.

Pallets have been standardized and ISO (international Organization for Standardizations) specifications are available for different varieties of pallets.

Pallets are of different types:

1. Two-way pallet, where the fork can enter from only one direction (or from the opposite direction only).
2. Four way pallet, were the entry of the fork can be from any of the four (4) sides of the pallet.
3. Single decked pallet: This pallet has a flat top surface in contrast to the non-decked varieties which have strips of timber planks for the upper and lower faces.
4. Double decked pallet: Here, the top as well as the bottom faces have flat surfaces. The top deck takes the load and the bottom deck acts as the base.
5. Wing pallet: Here the deck projects beyond the sides of the main body of the pallet.

There are various other kinds of pallets such as the box pallet, post pallet, reversible pallet.

The dimensions of the 2 way and 4 way pallets as recommended by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are:

30” X 48”
32” x 40” 40” x 40”
32” x 48” 40” x 48”
In terms of millimeters, the same dimensions are:

900 x 1200 mm
800 x 1000mm 1000 x 1000 mm
800 x 1200mm 1000 x 1200 mm

The height from the ground to the bottom of the top deck should be 127 mm (5”) maximum. Free height for the entry of forks should be 98 mm minimum (3 7/8”).

The pallets should also be rated in terms of 1 ton, 1½ tons or 2 tons. The pallets constructed from wood or Plastic should be tested lifting a load of 50% in excess of the rated weight. Pallets constructed out of steel should be tested for 25% excess load.

Palletizing also means that it to be accompanied by pallet racks. The pallet racks are mainly of two types: fixed pallet rack and adjustable pallet rack. Both these types should be made from a rugged skeleton of angle iron or steel sections. While the fixed pallet rack has fixed shelves, the adjustable one has shelves that can be set up in desired height and moved easily for this purposes. The latter type of pallet racks are of use while stacking items of different sizes and shapes, thus saving space.