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How to Select the Right Lift for Material Handling

A lift is one of the most common ways to move inventory and materials from one place to another in an industrial or commercial setting. However, there are a variety of options on the market in an array of styles and sizes, so some business owners find it difficult to choose the right one. Selecting the right lift will increase your productivity while helping to drive down costs, so it is important that you choose the lift that will work best for your unique material handling needs.

Evaluate the Setting

The setting in which your lift will be used is an extremely important factor in choosing the right option for your business, so keep these considerations in mind:
  • Work environment
Depending on whether you work in a retail or an industrial environment, your material handling needs may differ. If your lift will be stocking shelves in a retail store, a manually-operated lift will likely be your best option, and you should consider which type of roller or wheel will work best for your flooring. Industrial settings usually require the transportation of heavier loads, so an electric lift is generally a better selection.
  • Space
The available space in your facility will be an important consideration, as you’ll need to understand your maneuverability requirements. If the lift will be used in tight spaces, you should consider an option that has the ability to turn at 90 degrees for better navigation.
  • Storage systems
The storage systems and shelving arrangements in your facility will also make a difference in the lift that you choose. The width and length of your aisles along with the ceiling height should be compared to the dimensions of any potential unit.
  • Indoor vs. outdoor movement

If you need to move pallets and materials outside of your warehouse, it is important to find a lift that is ideal for maneuvering on rough or uneven terrain.

Consider Your Operational Requirements

When choosing a lift, it is important to consider how often you will need to use it throughout the average work day. If your staff will rely on it frequently and it will be in constant operation, a non-electric unit might be your best option. This is often the case in shipping terminals and warehouses in which materials are continuously being moved from one place to another. If you do choose an electric lift, you’ll need to keep the battery life in mind, ensuring that you always have back-ups available so that you don’t face any slowdowns in productivity.

Determine the Size of the Loads

The weight and size of the products and materials to be handled will be crucial factors in choosing the right lift. It is important to find a lift or pallet jack that has a capacity matching the weight of your materials. If you need to move extremely heavy materials, a manually-operated lift may lead to worker fatigue, which could severely jeopardize the efficiency of your operations.

You’ll also want to consider the size you’ll need for forks, especially if you will be transporting loads that are irregularly-sized. Depending on the size of your materials, you may wish to consider a unit with wider or longer forks than those found on a standard lift. Some lifts offer adjustable forks, which may be in your best interest if your facility handles a variety of pallet or material sizes.

Keep Employee Safety in Mind

The use of a lift should not only work to boost productivity in your business, but it should also keep your employees safe. When employees perform repetitive tasks that involve continuous reaching and bending, they are often prone to injury. A lift that will help employees to safely transport materials or reach them on high shelves can minimize the chance of a work-related injury.

Both manual and electric models require a certain amount of skill to operate them safely, so it is important that proper training programs are implemented. Operators need to remember that manual models may be easier to move around, but they require more time to bring the material handling unit to a complete stop. While electric options may be able to stop abruptly in an emergency situation, they also move quickly, which could make them a safety hazard if not used properly.

Whether you work in a warehouse, delivery center, or retail environment, a lift is an indispensable material handling tool. Choosing the right one will keep your operations running smoothly, and by doing your research to select the right option, you’ll find the option that best suits your needs.

Power Bolt and Tool carries a full line of material handling equipment including jacks, lifts, carts, hoists and more. Give us a call toll free at 888-514-5152 or contact one of our Florida material handling experts to learn more and make the best selection for your job. We stand ready to help you succeed as your first choice construction supplier.
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