Material handling equipment is mechanical equipment used for the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. The different types of material handling equipment can be classified into four major categories: transport equipment, positioning equipment, unit load formation equipment, and storage equipment.
- Conveyors are used when material is to be moved frequently between specific points over a fixed path and when there is a sufficient flow volume to justify the fixed conveyor investment. Different types of conveyors can be characterized by the type of product being handled: unit load or bulk load; the conveyor’s location: in-floor, on-floor, or overhead, and whether or not loads can accumulate on the conveyor. Accumulation allows intermittent movement of each unit of material transported along the conveyor, while all units move simultaneously on conveyors without accumulation capability. For example, while both the roller and flat-belt are unit-load on-floor conveyors, the roller provides accumulation capability while the flat-belt does not; similarly, both the power-and-free and trolley are unit-load overhead conveyors, with the power-and-free designed to include an extra track in order to provide the accumulation capability lacking in the trolley conveyor. Examples of bulk-handling conveyors include the magnetic-belt, troughed-belt, bucket, and screw conveyors. A sortation conveyor system is used for merging, identifying, inducting, and separating products to be conveyed to specific destinations, and typically consists of flat-belt, roller, and chute conveyor segments together with various moveable arms and/or pop-up wheels and chains that deflect, push, or pull products to different destination.
- Cranes are used to transport loads over variable (horizontal and vertical) paths within a restricted area and when there is insufficient (or intermittent) flow volume such that the use of a conveyor cannot be justified. Cranes provide more flexibility in movement than conveyors because the loads handled can be more varied with respect to their shape and weight. Cranes provide less flexibility in movement than industrial trucks because they only can operate within a restricted area, though some can operate on a portable base. Most cranes utilize trolley-and-tracks for horizontal movement and hoists for vertical movement, although manipulators can be used if precise positioning of the load is required. The most common cranes include the jib, bridge, gantry, and stacker cranes.
- Storage equipment is used for holding or buffering materials over a period of time. The design of each type of storage equipment, along with its use in warehouse design, represents a trade-off between minimizing handling costs, by making material easily accessible, and maximizing the utilization of space (or cube). If materials are stacked directly on the floor, then no storage equipment is required, but, on average, each different item in storage will have a stack only half full; to increase cube utilization, storage racks can be used to allow multiple stacks of different items to occupy the same floor space at different levels. The use of racks becomes preferable to floor storage as the number of units per item requiring storage decreases. Similarly, the depth at which units of an item are stored affects cube utilization in proportion to the number of units per item requiring storage. Pallets can be stored using single- and double-deep racks when the number of units per item is small, while pallet-flow and push-back racks are used when the units per item are mid-range, and floor-storage or drive-in racks are used when the number of units per item is large, with drive-in providing support for pallet loads that cannot be stacked on top of each other. Individual cartons can either be picked from pallet loads or can be stored in carton-flow racks, which are designed to allow first-in, first-out (FIFO) carton access. For individual piece storage, bin shelving, storage drawers, carousels, and A-frames can be used. An automatic storage/retrieval system (AS/RS) is an integrated computer-controlled storage system that combines storage medium, transport mechanism, and controls with various levels of automation for fast and accurate random storage of products and materials.
Efacec Handling Solutions S.A. offers wide range of Automated Material Handling Equipments includes Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS), Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Conveyor Solutions as well as Baggage & Cargo Handling Systems, Automated Distribution Centers, Order Fulfillment Systems and Baggage Handling Systems, SCADA Supervision Software.