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Those of us who are in the material handling business talk about “material handling” often, but we’re so used to the term, we don’t think about its meaning as much as we should. What is material handling and what is the role of forklift accessories in material handling?
Dictionary definitions of material handling usually go something like this:
Material Handling is the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. (source: Wikipedia)
Forklifts are involved in every aspect of material handling and forklift accessories and attachments are used for specific tasks in the material handling process. Let’s take a quick look at each stage of the process and see where forklifts and forklift accessories fit in.
- Movement: Obviously, forklifts were designed to make moving materials more efficient. The purpose of the forks is to move materials from one place to another. Forklift attachments are designed to move specific materials from one location to another. An example of this is carpet poles, which carry rolls of carpet far more safely and efficiently than forks alone can.
- Storage: The original powered industrial trucks did not have lift mechanisms and were not efficient for storage purposes. The invention of hydraulic lift mechanisms ushered in the age of the fork-lift or lift truck and the material handling industry was changed forever. At last all that vertical warehouse space that had been wasted could be put to good use. However, forklift forks alone were not sufficient to safely carry passengers for working at higher levels of pallet racks. Forklift work platforms were the perfect solution to the problem for many forklift owners who didn’t need or couldn’t afford expensive task-specific personnel lifts.
- Control: At the heart of control is functionality. Forklift forks are ideal for controlling the movement of materials that can be stacked neatly on pallets, but not ideal for controlling and containing many other materials. Take small parts, for instance. Only a forklift accessory like a hopper can be used to control the movement and storage of small parts.
- Protection: Forklifts alone do not provide adequate protection for the materials they handle. Goods placed on pallets are generally protected by their packaging, but further protection is often required. That’s where forklift accessories designed to safely and protectively handle materials come into the picture. Examples of these include fork extensions and covers; forklift drum attachments; portable loading platforms; and other forklift attachments and accessories that facilitate safe material handling.
When choosing lift truck attachments and accessories, weigh their benefits against their cost. In most cases, you’ll discover that forklift accessories are some of the most cost-effective material handling products you can buy.
No one is more informed about the role of forklift accessories in material handling than forkliftaccessories.com. We think about it constantly because it is our business to sell forklift accessories that make material handling more efficient and safer. If you have any questions at all about any of the products you find on our site, don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our material handling experts will be there to help. Also be sure to check out our Forklift Accessories Resources for invaluable articles about how to get the most out of your forklift.