Material Handling Fundamentals

Use this page as a resource for your new hires or existing employees to learn about various types of material handling equipment and their applications. MHEDA extends gratitude to MHI for providing a link to these fundamentals and to the various associations and product sections within MHI for this information.

  • Automated Storage / Retrieval Systems

    Automated storage and retrieval systems, sometimes known as ASRS or AS/RS, are made of a variation of computer-controlled systems that place and retrieve loads from set storage locations in a facility.

  • Automatic Guided Vehicles

    Automatic guided vehicles (AGV) are load carriers that travel along the floor of a facility without an onboard operator or driver. Their movement is directed by software and sensor-based guidance systems.

  • Automatic Identification / Data Collection

    Automatic identification and data collection is a family of technologies that identify, verify, record, communicate and store information on discrete, packaged or containerized items.

  • Casters / Wheels

    When mounted to the underside of a piece of equipment, casters and wheels make it easier for personnel or machinery to transport a load or group of items from one place to another in a facility.

  • Controls

    Consisting of hardware, sensors and software, material handling control systems direct and report on the status of hydraulic- and electrical-powered industrial equipment and products/inventory.

  • Conveyors

    Used for movement of materials, products and loads throughout a facility, conveyors are horizontal, inclined or vertical devices. Product transport is powered by gravity or by hydraulic or electric power.

  • Dock Equipment

    A loading dock is an elevated opening in a building’s sidewall where shipments are sorted and staged for loading and unloading. Loading dock equipment is used to make that area more accessible and safe.

  • Ergonomics

    Ergonomic equipment is used in many facilities to help the task fit the worker, instead of forcing the worker to fit the task. A variety of ergonomic assist systems improve the safety and well-being of operators.

  • Hoisting Equipment

    For vertical lifting of freely suspended, heavy, bulky loads, hoisting equipment (or hoists) works in conjunction with overhead cranes and workstation cranes.

  • Industrial Robots

    Because they can be programmed to perform dangerous, dirty and/or repetitive tasks with consistent precision and accuracy, industrial robots are increasingly used in a variety of industries and applications.

  • Integrated Material Handling Systems

    Consultants and system integrators provide engineering services to design and implement a complete integrated material handling system where all equipment in a facility work together.

  • Lift Trucks

    For independent movement, lifting and placement of discrete loads throughout a facility, a variety of motorized lift trucks or forklifts can be used.

  • Material Handling

    Material handling is the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption and disposal.

  • Monorail Systems / Workstation Cranes

    For materials that are too bulky or heavy to move through a process or facility with lift trucks or fixed, floor-mounted conveyors monorails and workstation cranes move and position loads.

  • Order Fulfillment

    The process of filling an order for a customer relies on many types of material handling equipment working together as parts of a complete integrated material handling system.

  • Overhead Cranes

    To move extremely heavy or bulky loads through the overhead space in a facility, instead of through aisles or on the floor, an overhead crane is a machine that lifts, lowers and moves a load horizontally.

  • Packaging

    A variety of packaging types is available such as containers, protective dunnage, unitizing materials that hold items together to form a complete load, and pallets that provide a stable platform.

  • Protective Guarding

    To protect personnel, equipment, facility, and inventory from hazards, protective guarding is frequently installed in manufacturing and warehouse facilities.

  • Racks

    Used for short- or long-term holding of materials, products and loads in a manufacturing or distribution facility, industrial storage racks hold items in an organized area set aside for them.

  • Software

    A variety of software systems are used throughout a company’s supply chain to streamline the tracking and flow of raw materials, component parts and finished goods.

  • Sortation

    To separate and route items—such as parcels, boxes, cartons or parts—within a facility, a sortation system merges, identifies, inducts and conveys products to specific destinations.

  • Storage

    Used for short- or long-term holding of materials, products and loads in a facility, industrial storage equipment holds positioned or placed items in an organized area set aside for them.