To better understand the operations in a warehouse imagine a giant Tetris game. There are thousands of boxes, pallets, and other objects in various sizes and awkward shapes which need to be organized together. If you approach this without a smart plan and let things pile up erratically, prepare yourself for failure. In order to use space optimally and prevent things from getting out of control, you will need a smart materials handling system. And at the centre of that materials handling system is hoist lifting equipment.
When lifting heavy loads from the floor in order to store them onto shelving, you may want to rely on more than just the muscles and backs of workers. As opposed to using solely manual labour, investing in quality hoist lifting equipment can prevent burnout and injuries, and turn a job that’s hazardous to the safety and health of workers, into and easy task with almost no risks for anyone or any goods involved.
But not only does hoist lifting equipment increase safety, it also helps speed up operations and prevent damage to goods resulting from accidents, such as tripping for instance. All of these things combined result in a significant increase of productivity. What hoist lifting equipment you’ll use depends on the type of load being moved and the surroundings. There various lifting tools, however, these few are the ones most warehouses hugely rely on.
Pallet jacks, although one of the simplest types of hoist lifting equipment, are the number 1 workhorse in any warehouse, industrial plant, or retail store. Whenever there’s a need to transport lighter loads, pallet jacks, also called pallet trucks, are the lifting tools workers can immediately turn to. Their sturdy and reliable construction allows to effectively transport the most common finding in a warehouse – the wooden pallets that so often hold the goods and materials. They resemble a much simpler forklift and can be used to elevate both light and heavy pallets.
There are two essential types of pallet jacks, manual and electric. Manual pallet jacks are hand-powered lifting tools which are most commonly used in retail and for smaller warehouse operations. On the other hand, electric pallet tracks completely eliminated the need for manual lifting and ensure workers will never be strained. Lifting is electrically powered, as well as the drive, which makes it easy to move heavy weights up to 1500 kilograms. There are also stand-on electric pallet trucks which can be extremely convenient in larger facilities when pallets need to be transported across long distances, reducing the time and effort it takes to do so.
The mighty jib crane is an advanced hoist lifting equipment that can be used for lifting, lowering, and horizontal moving of a variety of heavy materials. The jib crane consists out of a horizontal piece, called a jib or boom to which a movable hoist is attached. This piece of machinery is highly adaptable and can fit well in a variety of workshops and industries. Jib cranes can be either floor-mounted or wall-mounted.
The most popular type of floor-mounted jib crane is the freestanding one. A freestanding jib crane has a strong vertical shaft which allows it to stand by itself on any concrete foundation without additional support. It is the most versatile type of jib crane, allowing a full 360 degree rotation. On the other hand, wall-mounted jib cranes are only suitable for indoor use because they need to be attached to a special wall structure. They can be either fixed or they can rotate up to 180-200 degrees.
Hoists are simple lifting devices that do not take up much space and thus are very convenient for a variety of warehouse applications and construction sites where space is tight. Although they are usually fixed to a jib crane, there are also portable types of hoists which can be easily attached to various surfaces. Hoists are used to vertically move a variety of loads using a pulley system consisting of a drum or lift-wheel. They can be operated manually, or be electrically or pneumatically powered. The most common types of hoists are rope or chain hoists, which got their names because of the lifting medium they use – wire or fibre rope, and chain.
The forklift is a type of industrial vehicle that is used to raise, move, and then lower pallets and other loads onto storage racks using forks that can move up, down, tilt, and sometimes even extend outward. Forklifts can be electrically powered, or use petrol or diesel fuel. Regardless of what their power source is, most forklifts consist of the same elements: the cab where the driver sits which contains the pedals and levers; the overhead guard which covers the top of the forklift to protect the driver form a falling object; the truck frame where the wheels, axle and the power source are attached; and the counterweight which is attached to the back in order to prevent the forklift from tipping over.
There are also various forklift attachments which can increase the vehicle’s performance as well as the number of applications it can be used for. The most common types of forklift attachments are pallet hooks, fork spreaders for lifting extra wide loads, fork extension slippers, and slip on prongs suitable for handling fabric, cable, and coil products. Before adding attachments to a forklift, it’s important to consider the cab type, lift capacity, load centre and the hydraulic functions. Some types of forklifts are not capable of handling attachments, therefore always make sure check with your vehicles instruction guide or ask the manufacturer before making any changes.