Archive for February 2011
Materials handling is a vague concept to the average person. Those outside of the warehouse or industrial supplies businesses consider it to be the simple process of “moving stuff around.” Those whose job it is to ensure that materials and goods handling goes smoothly and efficiently have a great deal to say about it, though, because the handling of materials is at the heart of their business.
Warehouse supply companies define materials handling very broadly. They see it as much more than just the transport or manipulation of materials. Like an organism or machine, a warehouse is a dynamic system, all of whose parts are interconnected. Therefore, they consider anything that is connected with the safe and time-efficient handling and storage of any materials to be an integral part of the whole warehouse.
A pallet rack is essentially a stationary object, but to the warehouse manager and staff, it is as indispensable as the forklift, a more obvious example of a piece of materials handling equipment. With the invention of the forklift, the transport and movement of goods and materials was changed forever. This changed the way the world handled materials and it is no exaggeration to say that the forklift revolutionized the warehouse industry, but without pallet racks, it could not operate as efficiently as it does.
Industrial designers and engineers are well aware of the relationship between the goods stored on pallet racks and the function the pallet racks must perform. That is why they have designed different types of pallet racks for different purposes. Pallets of perishable goods, for instance, must be moved on a “first in, first out” basis, so Pallet Flow racks have been engineered to let gravity move pallets in order of placement for efficient rotation of stock. The typical Selective pallet rack, on the other hand, allows the forklift operator to pick and choose between different pallets.
Forklifts and pallet racks can be seen as most essential when materials are being delivered to the warehouse and removed from the warehouse. There are many other material handling operations that require specialized supplies in the warehouse as well.
The tape dispenser, while small and seemingly trivial, is, in its way, as much a part of the process of handling materials as is the forklift. In order to pack goods into boxes efficiently, a good tape dispenser is a necessity. It must operate smoothly and quickly and at the same time ensure the safety of the handler, minimizing or eliminating the risk of even slight injury. Safety and efficiency are two things that are essential components of every piece of materials handling equipment, no matter how large or small.
When it comes to the large, heavy and potentially dangerous equipment, the problems of design and construction are more complex. Many warehouses cannot operate efficiently without having at least one vertical personnel lift, for instance. Since the lift is carrying warehouse personnel to dangerous heights, it must be designed with the operator’s safety in mind, without sacrificing his ability to do his job.
Safety and Efficiency – these are what materials handling means to those in the warehouse supplies industry. That is why everything, from a good pair of driver’s gloves to a vertical personnel lift, must be included in their definition of materials handling equipment and goods.