The industrial material handling equipment (MHE) industry is expected to grow by over five percent to $194.5 billion through 2026. This growth will be supported worldwide by expanding agricultural, energy, foresting, and mining industries, among others. The demand will also be fueled by companies switching to more state-of-the-art, reliable equipment to support their own growth, and changing product standards and industry regulations.
The key notion behind the MHE industry is “smarter not harder”. No company that manages or ships materials can support growth without efficient and reliable material handling equipment. Equipment ranges anywhere from dollies (also known as hand trucks), to platform trucks, to storage silos! As the MHE industry grows, products improve and become more advanced.
Categories of Material Handling Equipment
Storage and Handling – This is the simplest and most common kind of MHE. These can be shelves, racks, stackable bins, and basically anything might that might be used to organize inventory in a warehouse. Most of these items enable inventory managers to maximize vertical space and maintain an organization system.
Bulk Handling – This refers to equipment that either moves or stores loose bulk material such as corn or grain. Silos, conveyor belts, hoppers, and dump trucks would all fit into this material handling equipment category.
Engineered Systems – Also known as automated systems, this category is driven by technology developments. For example, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) transport, process and deliver materials to their dedicated storage location. There are also computer driven vehicles, conveyer systems, and robotic delivery systems that continue to improve warehouse efficiency.
Industrial Trucks – The term “trucks” in this category is a loose term, as it applies to both automotive trucks such as forklifts and hand tools such and dollies or “hand trucks”.
Innovative Material Handling Equipment
Automated Guided Vehicles – Also known as AGVs, the computer controlled trucks use wire tracks, cameras, and lasers to retrieve and deliver materials around the warehouse and are quicker and stronger than one human worker would be. For example, as opposed to one worker taking three trips to retrieve three items, one worker can input the three required items into the computer, and let the AGV do the rest, while he continues to work! These systems are becoming less expensive and more quickly installed, and are easily rearranged and repurposed, making them increasingly popular.
Biodegradable Packaging – Improved biodegradable packaging is damage resistant, sanitary, and cost efficient. These types of green packaging benefits both material handlers and the consumers. “Core Protection Plugs are designed specifically for manufacturers and converters of paper, plastic film, and metallic foils. The Inca core plug’s strength advantage comes from the unique process of combining hard and softwood fiber and resin with high heat and pressure.”
Lift Truck – This product is designed to do the work of a traditional forklift without the same effort required of an operator. “OMEGA specializes in two jobs: autonomous floor-to-floor deliveries and semi-autonomous mode where workers can take over complex loading or unloading tasks. The truck can pick up and drop off skids fully autonomously, receive items to be put away, deliver parts to lineside, cross dock, transport dunnage, and more.”
As the demand for material handling equipment rises, innovation will drive efficiency and availability. For now, it appears that the MHE industry will continue to be a thriving one. To learn more about the projected MHE industry numbers, please visit https://www.freedoniagroup.com and purchase their report, “Global Material Handling”.