Material Handling Equipment: Different Types and Uses

A lot of machinery and equipment goes into the safe and efficient handling of materials throughout a warehouse or manufacturing facility. To keep materials moving in a manufacturing process or while loading and unloading at a warehouse, it’s important to use the right equipment for the job.

This equipment is known as material handling equipment.

What is Material Handling Equipment?

Material handling equipment is any piece of equipment—from a static shelf to more dynamic machinery—that is used for the transportation, processing, storing, or packing of materials. Material handling equipment makes a work environment safer and more productive, literally taking the heavy lifting out of the hands of warehouse workers and giving them a more effective tool for handling the materials. In turn, material handling equipment saves the business a lot of time and money that would be used staffing and insuring a large amount of manual labor.

4 Types of Material Handling Equipment

When determining the right material handling solutions for your facility, you should consider which material handling equipment is best for your particular business and the materials involved. Here are the four types of material handling equipment and how best to use each one in a material handling facility:

1. Storage Equipment

Storage equipment is any material handling equipment that is used to organize and store materials for a period of time. This is typically the most static category of material handling equipment, involving very stationary solutions like shelving, bins, pallets, and racks. Storage equipment can also be more automated, like car stackers that both lift a vehicle off the ground and act as the shelf for the vehicle being stored.

Storage solutions like car stackers and car parking lifts also address the primary goal of storage equipment—to make use of vertical space and store several items or materials in between receiving and shipping—by creating more space underneath the stacker for an additional vehicle.

Storage equipment can be purchased in standard sizes and fits, but it can also be built with your material handling needs in mind through custom steel fabrication.

2. Industrial Machines and Trucks

For your transportation needs in a large facility, trucks, lifts, and other industrial machinery help take your materials from A to B. These material handling machines can vary significantly in the job they perform and include the following equipment:

  • Forklifts to transport crates and loads throughout a facility
  • Cranes for lifting and transporting very large, heavy materials
  • Order Pickers to raise employees up to higher shelves when picking and packing orders
  • Pallet Jacks (or pallet trucks) for a purpose similar to forklifts, but at a more limited functionality.


Other industrial machines often used for material handling are side loaders, walkie stackers, hand trucks (dollies), and platform trucks. When it comes to loading and transporting your materials, do your research to pick the right lifting equipment for the job!

3. Bulk Material Handling Equipment

Bulk material handling equipment is used for storing, transporting, and processing materials in bulk. These material handling solutions are often custom in nature, as they’re designed to fully handle movement and sorting of materials throughout a warehouse or manufacturing process. Some bulk material handling equipment that may be included in a custom solution include:

  • Conveyor belt systems to move materials throughout a facility, usually in smaller sizes than large crates that would require a forklift or pallet truck.
  • Stackers to transport materials from one set location to another.
  • Reclaimers to collect and stack bulk materials.
  • Bucket elevators for vertical transportation of materials.


Some common bulk material handling equipment is not likely to be found in a warehouse, but may crop up in a manufacturing plant that deals in a lot of raw materials. Hoppers, reclaimers, silos, and dump trucks are all bulk material handling equipment best suited for processing loose materials like soil, minerals, and debris.

4. Engineered Systems

Material handling solutions for your facility work best when customized to your specific needs, as entire networks of conveyors and other machinery can be used to create an ever-flowing system of highly efficient material handling. When these custom solutions are put into play, they often involve some level of automation to boost efficiency further. These automations can come in the form of engineered systems like robotic parts handlers, mechanical works stations, or even automated bin dumpers and pick modules to keep materials flowing throughout the facility at a consistent pace with minimal human oversight required.

Let Us Customize Your Material Handling Solutions

Our team of high-quality mechanical contractors at Mathews Mechanical are the material handling experts you’re looking for! In addition to custom metal fabrications and material handling solutions, we provide 24/7 mechanical services and repair whether we were the equipment installers or not!

Ready to give your material handling services the equipment they need to do the job right? Give us a call and we’ll send an engineer directly to you to start planning.