The Types of Lifting Equipment that Simplify Material Handling

Written by Matilda Odell
News & Insights
As you explore ways to streamline and optimize operations in your warehouse or production plant — it’s time to consider lifting equipment. There are a variety of lifters and accessories to choose from beyond traditional forklifts.
Even if your products are generally small and lightweight, manual materials handling is inefficient. The larger, bulkier, and heavier your goods, the more your inefficiencies.  Research across a variety of industries found that manual lifting consumes up to 25% of your labour costs, up to 87% of production time, and up to 70% of your overall manufacturing costs. Not to mention, the increased safety risks and odds of employee turnover.   If the bottlenecks and risk factors of your current operations have reached a tipping point, the information below will help select the right types of lifting equipment to upgrade to. 

Different types of lifting equipment and their uses

From how you move parts along an assembly line to packaging, storing, shipping, and loading—materials handling must be strategically mapped out.  This goes beyond the efficiency of your layout to the inefficiencies of how your materials are handled. The more hands-on your process, the more areas of opportunity there are to explore.  Factors such as your industry, the size of your plant, the weight of goods, load type, and inventory volume will determine which types of lifting equipment you need to streamline and simplify your operations. The top options are below.

Types of lifting equipment and lifting capacity

#1 Order picker forklifts

  Order picker forklifts attach to any forklift or truck, empowering your team to load orders without reaching or bending. They utilize heavy-duty suction cups to lift from the top or sides of each box.  Our order pickers deliver a variety of features and benefits, including:
  • Compatible with any type of forklift or pallet jack.
  • Articulating arm for optimal reach.
  • Adjustable height facilitates reach into pallet racks.
  • Support legs for extra stability.
  • Grip boxes from the top or from the side.
  • Lift boxes of all sizes, up to 80 kg.
  • Articulating arm rotates at 360 degrees for easy loading. 
  • Order with a variety of suction tools to meet your needs.

#2 Vacuum lifters 

Vacuum lifters utilize industrial-powered technology to lift and load a variety of goods without damage.  The lift handle is designed for both left and right-handed employees, ergonomically lifting small and large bags, boxes, sheets, parts, and complex items without back or shoulder strain. This includes lifting fragile goods such as sheets of glass and cold goods such as blocks of cheese.  In addition to lifting up to 270 kg, these advanced lifters establish workforce agility. Simply swap out the coupling to use the same lifter for multiple workstations. The couplings also empower you to cross-train your team. Cross-training minimizes skills gaps and the monotony of the workday—both of which maximize productivity.  There are a variety of vacuum-powered lifters to choose from. You may require more than one model or different types of lifting equipment in different areas of your production plant:
  • Multifunctional lifter—lifts with a combination of vacuum power and interchangeable suction cups. 
  • High frequency—custom suction cups to lift, rotate, and position with maximum precision.  
  • Stainless steel lifter—ideal for cleanrooms and industries with strict hygiene standards. 
  • Customized lifter—custom-made to lift oversized items, vehicles, and items with unique specs.
  • ATEX lifter—grounded lifts that are compliant with ATEX zones 1, 2, 21, and 22. 
  • Panel lifter—lifts wood panels, glass sheets, doors, windows, plastic panels, and more.  
Vacuum lifts can be used for:
  • boxes/taped boxes
  • plastic bags 
  • glass/metal canisters
  • food products
  • odd-shaped parts
  • carton boxes/wine boxes
  • blocks of meat/cheese 
  • luggage,
  • and more. 
Mobile Vacuum Lifters Mobile vacuum lifters combine industrial vacuum technology and suction cups. They empower you to unload trucks and containers or lift from pallet racks and conveyer belts.  You can choose from a forklift, LLOP, or pallet jack-mounted, as well as mobile Plug&Play options. Their interchangeable or custom-designed suction cups are designed to lift boxes, tires, sacks, and more.  

#3 Cranes 

You are likely to require multiple types of lifting equipment in your warehouse, including crane systems. Crane systems are ideal for servicing the entire assembly line or logistics unit. Also, for areas that don’t require plant-wide mobility.  This mounted equipment is custom designed to your unique specs in either steel or aluminium. Cranes can be securely mounted to the ceiling, roof beam, floor, or floor pillar. Some can be mounted to a forklift or a trolley that can be repositioned manually or by remote control.  There are two primary types of crane systems, overhead bridge cranes and jib cranes.  Jib cranes Jib cranes are typically floor or column mounted with overhead arms to extend reach up to 6 meters.  Options include:
  • Standard—a versatile option that can be floor or wall mounted to lift up to 125 kg, with a 270-degree swivel, and reach up to 4 meters. 
  • Stainless steel—ideal for heavy loads up to 1000 kg, with 360-degree swivel, and reach up to 4 meters. They are also ATEX-approved for zones 1, 2, 21, and 22.
  • Lightweight—these aluminium cranes lift large items up to 125 kg, with a 270-degree swivel, and reach up to 6 meters. 
  • Articulating jib—the compact design is ideal for confined spaces, lifting items up to 80 kg, with a 360-degree swivel, and reach of up to 4 meters. 
  • Low-built—ideal for spaces with limited headroom. Lifts up to 80 kg, with a  240-degree swivel, and reach of up to 3 meters. 
  • Portable—custom mounted to a forklift with a custom base to enable lifting almost anywhere flat. Can be combined with hoists and vacuum lifters for maximum efficiency. 
Overhead bridge cranes Our customizable overhead cranes have a bridge that empowers long-distance lifting. They can minimize the need for and safety hazards associated with forklifts. Aluminium cranes are used for goods with a maximum weight of 125 kg. Steel cranes are used for loads up to 1500 kg.  Choose from a variety of options, including: 
  • Telescopic—the telescopic arm is designed to reach into pallets and containers, through doorways, and to pass goods from one system to the next. Telescopes can be installed in small facilities and areas with low headroom. Lift up to 1500 kg with a bridge span of up to 8 meters. 
  • Low-built—designed to enable girder crane lifting in areas with low ceilings. Lift up to 1500 kg with a bridge span of up to 8 meters. 
  • Monorail and curves—designed to enable lifting in linear and non-linear production lines. They can lift through doorways and hallways, can be extended to girder crane systems, and lift up to 1500 kg with a maximum suspension of 8 meters. 
  • Floor mounted—if the ceiling is uneven, isn’t sturdy, already has cranes, or you require open-air production, floor mounting may be an option. High ceilings are required, and they can lift up to 1500 kg with a bridge span of up to 8 meters.  
  • Single or double girder—single girder is ideal for lighter loads, and a double girder is ideal for heavy loads. Both can lift up to 1500 kg with a bridge span of up to 8 meters. 
 

#4 Hoists/Air hoists 

For ultimate precision, accuracy, and control, chain or wire hosts may be your best option. Hoists can be utilized for lifting a variety of boxes and materials and are ideal for large, heavy, and semi-flexible items such as bags. Some can be designed to lift more than one item at a time.  Chain hoist Our IP65-rated chain hoists are compliant for outdoor use and use in challenging conditions. This quiet equipment is managed from a safe distance by remote control. The hook can be rotated 360 degrees and can lift up to 2500 kg.  High-speed wire hoists When you require speed and precision for lighter loads up to 120 kg, a wire hoist may be all you need. The grip is managed with a single-hand joystick, can tilt and rotate, and can adapt to fit the size of your load. It can also securely hold loads while you unload them.  Panel lifter Vacuum-powered suction cups alone max out at around 250 kg. When combined with a hoist, the maximum weight lifted is up to 500 kg. Our panel lifters have a 90-degree vertical and horizontal tilt capacity. They grip, tilt, and rotate large and heavy sheets and panels.

#5 Container unloaders

Container unloaders empower your team to quickly and easily unload loose cargo from trucks and containers. These powerful unloaders are designed to decrease the strain on your body by 80 percent or more while drastically decreasing unloading times. They turn many two-person jobs into one-person jobs.  Telescopic mounted This container unloader utilizes a vacuum-powered suction cup that is mounted to a telescopic conveyor. It lifts up to 40 kg in less than a second and rotates at 360 degrees.  Mobile high-frequency lifter This compact lifter has a flexible arm to easily lift into pallet racks, containers, and trucks. It is a mobile Plug&Play solution so it can be repositioned throughout your plant.  

#6 Other types of lifting equipment

We have focused heavily on materials handling equipment available from TAWI. You will also require a variety of mobile and stationary tools to streamline and optimize your warehouse or production plant.  You may require any combination of the equipment below: 
  • Forklifts and pallet trucks—easily deliver and redistribute small and large loads.
  • Hoppers—large funnels that direct loose materials into containers. 
  • Reclaimers—machines that pick up loose materials from the stockpile.
  • Conveyor systems—seamlessly move materials down the production line. 
  • Automated stackers—move loose materials without hands-on intervention. 
  • Bucket elevators—transport and store bulk items such as sacks of grain. 
  • AS/RS—automated systems that pick, shuttle, and process loose materials.
  • AGVs—computer-operated trucks that move materials solo using sensors and detectors. 
  • Robotic delivery systems—transfer products from one area of the assembly line to another. 
  • Positioners—ergonomically reposition large and heavy items while working hands-on.
  • And more—choose from a variety of standard and industry-specific options. 

What to consider when choosing warehouse lifting equipment

Now that you understand the different types of lifting equipment found in warehouses, it’s time to decide what is right for you. Consider:    
  1. Weight capacity—consider the maximum weight of your existing goods but leave a bit of wiggle room in case your product range expands. 
  2. Type of load—size, shape, materials, and compliance requirements will help determine which equipment is right for you. 
  3. Height of lift—not all warehouses and production facilities have high ceilings. Even with high ceilings, you may already have other equipment installed that would complicate the installation/movement options of your lifting equipment. 
  4. Frequency of use—you may want to prioritize what to invest in by the frequency of use, expanding your equipment range as production grows. 

Optimize material handling with TAWI lifting solutions

TAWI has carefully curated a cutting-edge range of lifting equipment to create safe and efficient workflows.  Our intuitive systems rapidly:
  • Increase productivity—semi-automating your workflow decreases burnout and streamlines and simplifies workflow, both of which increase throughput. 
  • Reduce the risk of injury—the right equipment can minimize bending, reaching, and the strain of lifting by over 80%, which drastically reduces injuries. 
  • Reduce costs—the upfront investment pays itself back in employee retention, employee agility, and by reducing operating costs by 15 to 30 percent.   
In many industries, the repetitive nature of materials handling is the leading cause of nonfatal injuries. Transitioning from manual to semi-automated lifting equipment is a proactive approach to accidents and injury.  Beyond taking a proactive approach to compliance and warehouse risk factors, our equipment delivers efficiencies across a variety of KPIs. If you need help with choosing the right material handling equipment—reach out, and our team will help you find the right solution.
Matilda Odell
Matilda Odell works as the Content Creation Specialist at the brand TAWI, a brand by Piab Group, which enables smart lifting optimized for people and businesses.

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