Whether you’re managing goods in a bustling warehouse, a retail store, or an industrial setting, having the right material handling equipment in warehouse is crucial to achieve operational excellence. In fact, material handling practices can account for up to 70% of total warehouse costs.

If you’re looking to optimize your material handling processes, selecting the right equipment is key. Here’s an overview of the 10 most common types of material handling equipment and tips for choosing the right ones for your needs.

What is material handling equipment?

Material handling equipment (MHE) refers to a diverse group of tools, vehicles, storage units, and accessories used for moving, storing, and controlling materials and products throughout the manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and disposal processes. 

The primary goal of material handling is to increase efficiency, streamline operations, and reduce the risk of injury.

Types of material handling equipment

Material handling equipment can vary widely depending on the industry and specific needs, but some common types include:

1. Conveyor


These are systems for moving materials from one location to another. They can be simple, such as roller conveyors, or complex, like conveyor belts.

2. Forklifts


Forklifts are industrial trucks equipped with pronged devices (forks) that can be raised and lowered for lifting, moving, and stacking materials.

3. Cranes and Hoists

cranes and hoists

These are used for lifting and positioning heavy materials. Overhead cranes and hoists are common in manufacturing and construction.

4. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

AGVs are computer-controlled, wheel-based load carriers that move materials within a facility, often following a predetermined path.

5. Pallet Jacks

pallet jacks

Also known as pallet trucks, stack pallets, or pallet lifters, pallet jacks are used to lift and move palletized materials within a warehouse.

6. Storage and Retrieval Systems

storage and retrieval systems

Automated systems that handle storing and retrieving goods from racks or shelves, such as automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS).

7. Robotic Systems

robotic systems

Robotics systems are industrial robots are increasingly used for material handling tasks, including picking, packing, and palletizing.

8. Racks and Shelving

racks and shelving

Storage equipment solutions like pallet racks, mezzanines, and shelving systems that help organize and store materials efficiently.

9. Hoppers and Chutes

hoppers and chutes

These are used to guide the flow of materials, such as grains, powders, or liquids, from one point to another.

10. Carts and Dollies

cart and dollies

Simple wheeled devices used for manual handling material transport equipment within a facility.

MHE best practices

1. Operator Training

  • Provide comprehensive training programs for MHE operators, covering equipment operation, safety procedures, and emergency protocols.
  • Regularly update operator training to incorporate new equipment or changes in procedures.

2. Preventive Maintenance

  • Establish a regular preventive maintenance schedule for all MHE, following manufacturer guidelines.
  • Conduct routine inspections to identify and address potential issues before they become major problems.

3. Load Capacity Awareness

  • Clearly communicate load capacity limits for each piece of equipment.
  • Train operators to recognize and adhere to load limits, avoiding overloading that can compromise safety.

4. Safety Features Utilization

  • Ensure that operators understand and use all equipment safety features, such as brakes, lights, horns, and backup alarms.
  • Regularly check and test safety features to confirm proper functionality.

5. Traffic Management

  • Implement clear traffic lanes and signage in areas where MHE and pedestrians share space.
  • Establish right-of-way rules and ensure that operators are aware of pedestrian movement and restricted area.

6. Proper Equipment Selection

  • Select MHE based on the specific requirements of the task and the working environment.
  • When choosing equipment, consider loading unloading size, weight, and the facility’s layout.

7. Communication Protocols

  • Establish clear communication protocols between MHE operators and other personnel, including signals, hand signals, and communication devices.
  • Encourage constant communication to enhance situational awareness.

8. Regular Inspections

  • Conduct pre-shift inspections of MHE to identify any issues before operation.
  • Encourage operators to report any concerns or malfunctions promptly.

9. Proper Storage and Parking

  • Designate specific areas for equipment storage and parking.
  • Ensure that parked equipment does not obstruct traffic or emergency exit routes.

Also read: The Ultimate Guide to Choose the Right Warehouse Layout and Design

10. Emergency Response Plans

  • Develop and regularly review emergency response plans, including procedures for equipment malfunctions, accidents, and evacuations.
  • Provide training on emergency response protocols to all personnel.

11. Record Keeping

  • Maintain detailed records of equipment maintenance, inspections, and operator training.
  • Use records to track equipment performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions.

12. Ergonomics

  • Consider ergonomics when designing workstations and selecting MHE to reduce operator fatigue and the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Encourage proper body mechanics and posture during equipment operation.

13. Continuous Improvement

  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging operator feedback and regularly reviewing processes to identify areas for enhancement.
  • Stay informed about advancements in MHE technology and safety practices.

Also read: Warehouse Management: Significance in Supply Chain, Challenges & Success Factors

Where to buy MHE

  1. Local Dealers and Distributors:
    • Check for local dealerships or distributors that specialize in material handling equipment. These companies often represent various brands and can assist with selecting the right equipment for your specific needs.
  2. Online Marketplaces:
    • Explore online marketplaces that cater to industrial equipment and machinery. Some popular online platforms include Tokopedia, Bukalapak, and Lazada. You may find a range of MHE options from different sellers.
  3. Specialized Industrial Suppliers:
    • Look for suppliers that specialize in industrial equipment and machinery. They may have a dedicated section for material handling equipment or can source it for you.
  4. International Manufacturers:
    • Contact international manufacturers of material handling equipment. Many global companies have a presence in Indonesia or may have authorized distributors in the region. You can reach out to them directly or through their official representatives.
  5. Trade Shows and Exhibitions:
    • Attend trade shows and exhibitions related to material handling, logistics, and industrial equipment. These events often feature a variety of exhibitors, including manufacturers and distributors of MHE.
  6. Networking and Industry Associations:
    • Connect with industry associations, business networks, or trade organizations related to logistics, manufacturing, or material handling. These networks can provide recommendations or connect you with reputable suppliers.
  7. Consult with Local Businesses:
    • Seek recommendations from other businesses in your industry or region. Local businesses may have experience with reputable suppliers of material handling equipment.
  8. Consult with Industry Experts:
    • Consult with industry experts or consultants who specialize in logistics and material handling. They can provide valuable insights and may recommend reliable suppliers.

Tips before buying MHE

1. Assess Your Requirements

Clearly define your material handling needs. Consider the types of materials you’ll be handling, the weight and size of loads, the layout of your facility, and any specific operational requirements.

2. Budget Considerations

Establish a budget for your MHE purchase. Factor in the initial purchase cost and ongoing maintenance, training, and operational expenses.

3. Equipment Type

Choose the type of material handling equipment that best suits your needs. Common types include forklifts, conveyors, pallet jacks, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and cranes. Select the equipment that aligns with your specific applications.

4. New vs. Used

Evaluate whether new or used equipment suits your budget and operational requirements. Consider the condition of used equipment, its maintenance history, and any potential ongoing costs.

5. Vendor Reputation

Research and choose reputable vendors or dealers. Look for companies with a history of providing quality equipment and reliable customer service. Check customer reviews and testimonials, if available.

6. Equipment Features

Examine the features and capabilities of the equipment. Ensure that it meets or exceeds your operational requirements. Consider factors such as unit load capacity, lift height, maneuverability, and any special features needed for your applications.

7. Safety Features

Prioritize equipment with robust safety features. This includes features such as operator protection, visibility enhancements, emergency brakes, and alarms. Compliance with safety standards is crucial.

8. Training and Support

Inquire about the availability of training programs for operators. Ensure that the vendor provides adequate support, including documentation, manuals, and access to technical assistance if needed.

9. Warranty and Maintenance Plans:

Check the warranty offered by the manufacturer and inquire about available maintenance plans. Understand the terms and conditions for warranty coverage and the availability of replacement parts.

10. Integration with Existing Systems:

If you have existing material handling systems or WMS, ensure the new equipment seamlessly integrates with your current infrastructure.

11. Future Expansion

Consider your future business needs and whether the equipment can accommodate potential expansion or changes in your operations.

12. Local Regulations

Familiarize yourself with local regulations and standards related to the use of material handling equipment. Ensure that the equipment you choose complies with these regulations.

13. Visit the Vendor or Manufacturer

Whenever possible, visit the vendor’s or manufacturer’s facility to inspect the equipment firsthand. This can provide valuable insights into the quality of the equipment and the company’s operations.


Material Handling Equipment (MHE) is crucial for efficient operations, but challenges like safety concerns and integration issues persist. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) provide a concise solution. 

WMS enhances safety through real-time monitoring and optimizes equipment usage by offering insights into inventory. By automating maintenance workflows and facilitating data-driven decisions, WMS effectively tackles MHE challenges, fostering a safer and more streamlined material handling environment. 

Learn more: What Is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) – A Complete Guide


Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) 

  • Definition: Vehicles that are guided by sensors or wires in the floor. They are often used in warehouses to transport materials. AGVs can be programmed to follow specific routes and to stop at specific locations.

Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS)

  • Definition: A system that uses robots to store and retrieve materials. AS/RS systems are often used in warehouses to store materials that are needed frequently.

Forklift or Lift Truck

  • Definition: A powered industrial truck used to lift and transport materials. It has two forks at the front that can be inserted under a load and lifted. 

Industrial robots

  • Definition: Machines that are programmed to perform specific tasks. They are often used in manufacturing to perform tasks that are dangerous or repetitive for humans. Some common industrial robot applications include welding, painting, assembly, packaging, and inspection.

Preventive maintenance

  • Definition: A scheduled program of maintenance that is designed to prevent equipment from breaking down. This type of maintenance can help to save money and improve safety. Some common preventive maintenance tasks include checking fluid levels, changing filters, inspecting for wear and tear, lubricating moving parts.

Right-of-way rules

  • Definition: The rules that govern who has the right to go first in a traffic situation. These rules are important for safety and efficiency. Some common right-of-way rules include:
    • Pedestrians always have the right-of-way over vehicles.
    • Vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
    • Vehicles must yield to vehicles coming from the right at intersections.
    • Vehicles must yield to vehicles that are already in the intersection.

Truck attachments

  • Definition: Tools or equipment that can be added to a truck to make it more versatile. Some common truck attachments include forks, buckets, cranes, winches, snowplows, and salt spreaders.

Impact Insight Team

Impact Insights Team is a group of professionals comprising individuals with expertise and experience in various aspects of business. Together, we are committed to providing in-depth insights and valuable understanding on a variety of business-related topics & industry trends to help companies achieve their goals.

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