4 Types of Material Handling Equipment Used Across Industries

Material handling equipment and systems provide many entities with ways of handling and storing bulk material. Typically, material handling equipment refers to equipment that is designed to move, control, protect, and store material through various processes at warehouses and facilities. However, this equipment finds use in a myriad of industries, making it incredibly versatile. To better understand how material handling equipment works, this blog will cover its primary advantages and applications.

There are four main categories of material handling equipment, those of which include bulk handling material equipment, engineered systems, industrial trucks, and storage and handling equipment.

Bulk Handling Material Equipment

This category of equipment covers instruments and tools that transport, store, and control bulk materials. Manufacturers design bulk handling material equipment to move and store items in a loose form. These pieces of equipment are used when handling food, liquids, metal items, and minerals. There are several types of bulk handling material equipment, all of which will be outlined below.

Hoppers: Hoppers are large, funnel-shaped objects with openings that close and are often used when one needs to pour loose materials into containers.

Reclaimers: Reclaimers are large machines that pick up loose materials from a company’s stockpile.

Conveyor Belts: Conveyor belts are an integral part of conveyor systems. They use drums or pulleys to rotate their belts and transport bulk material from one location to another.

Stackers: Stackers are key parts of bulk material handling. This piece of automated equipment can move loose materials to stockpiles with ease.

Bucket and Grain Elevators: Often called grain legs, bucket elevators vertically move bulk materials on a production pathway and may even store them, depending on the task at hand.

Engineered Systems

Also called automated systems, engineered systems consist of the automated bulk material handling equipment that transports and stores materials. They usually feature several pieces of equipment and are widely used as they remove the need for manual labor to complete various operations. Below, we will cover some of the primary types of engineered systems.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS): An AS/RS is a popularly used type of engineered system that handles loads of work. It uses a shuttle to pick up loose materials and then places them on different parts of the system. This process is usually manually operated or automated. Additionally, these systems may feature racks, shelves, and aisles for ease of processing. More than that, they can be connected to a company’s network, making it easy to monitor stock.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs are computer-operated trucks that feature sensors and detectors. These vehicles can be completely autonomous, moving materials and objects safely around a facility on preset pathways.

Robotic Delivery Systems: These systems are utilized to transport materials on an assembly line.

Conveyor Systems: Featuring several devices and mechanical assemblies to transport material through a facility, conveyor systems are available in a number of types, including apron, cleated, chain, overhead, and vehicle conveyor variations.

Industrial Trucks

Industrial trucks encompass a wide array of equipment, all of which are designed to aid in material transportation. They can range from small, hand-operated equipment to large, driveable equipment, and they can be further divided into two main categories: non-stacking and stacking trucks. Non-stacking trucks are used primarily for transportation purposes, while stacking trucks can transport, load, and stack materials. There are four main types of industrial trucks, those of which will be detailed below.

Hand Trucks: Often called dollies, hand trucks are simple pieces of equipment that provide operators the leverage they necessitate to wheel heavy materials to new locations.

Sideloaders: These trucks are designed to squeeze between narrow openings or aisles, allowing opercators to easily pick up items on either side of them.

Pallet Trucks: Commonly known as forklifts, pallet trucks are utilized to lift heavy pallets loaded with items. They feature forks that slip under pallets to lift them up and are available in manual and electrical types, depending on the operator’s needs.

Order Pickers: When accessing materials that are stored in high places, order pickers are ideal. They hoist operators, allowing them to get to hard-to-reach materials.

Storage and Handling Equipment

Storage and handling equipment allows operators to safely store and organize materials while they await another stage in the production or distribution process. Such equipment may also be used to hold materials for short or long periods of time. Typically, it is stationary and not automated, but many industries use it alongside automated systems and other equipment. There are four different types of storage and handling equipment, those of which are outlined below.

Drawers, Bins, and Shelves: Shelving is used to store and organize basic materials. Meanwhile, bins and drawers are preferred when one needs to organize smaller items that could easily be misplaced otherwise.

Mezzanines: A mezzanine is a raised indoor platform that creates additional storage space above the ground. They allow companies to store items in a level-like fashion, freeing up space on the warehouse floor. They are available in modular, rack supported, movable, free-standing, and building supported mezzanine styles.

Racks: Racks are useful apparatuses that help companies store their materials in accessible areas while saving floor space. They can be designed for a variety of uses, some of which include sliding tracks, drive-in or drive-through racks, pallet tracks, and push-back rack variations.

Stacking Frames: Stacking frames are one of the main types of storage equipment used in material handling, and they are designed to be easily stacked on top of one another.


Industrial Automation Parts is a premier distributor of material handling equipment and their various parts. In our vast inventory, we carry in-demand equipment from top manufacturers like Spanco, Global Industrial, Marathon Industries, Southern Wire, and many others. Kickoff the procurement process by requesting a competitive quote on any item in our available listings and see why customers rely on Industrial Automation Parts time and time again.


Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships

Thank You for Visiting.

We hope that you will visit us again the next time you need industrial parts and make us your strategic purchasing partner.

Request for Quote

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.