Organizations that need to regularly move heavy loads (ranging from a few tons up to hundreds of tons) have no shortage of options. Indeed, many types of load-handling equipment could potentially haul such loads, including cranes, conveyors, air cushion vehicles, forklifts and other industrial trucks, wheeled transfer carts, drag chains, rails, and more. Because each of these move systems has varying strengths and weaknesses, it can be a challenging and complicated process to pinpoint which system would work best in any given situation.
This is particularly true since different factors may become more or less important depending on the circumstances, environment or other needs related to the move. These tradeoffs can be difficult to understand and articulate, much less decide between. Sometimes the need for flexibility will override cost as a consideration, but it may not always be clear when flexibility needs to be the most important consideration.
Other times, the sheer weight of the load might drive the decision over any other consideration. Complicating these questions further, many of the considerations can be subtle and less obvious. Beyond raw cost and logistical feasibility, you must also think about floor conditions, the time it takes to implement, opportunity costs, safety risks, flexibility, and more.
However, the pressure to get this question right is tremendous. Organizations may be placing as much as six, seven or even eight figures worth of production value on the line. Modernization, increased competition, reduced margins, and the need to keep personnel safe create further tension. That means organizations need to find a move system that will keep their operations moving swiftly, efficiently, and cost-effectively while simultaneously working seamlessly with their facilities and workers.
This paper is intended to serve as a guide to selecting the ideal load-handling equipment for any given load and situation. The sheer variability of needs means this guide will not be definitive—no single guide could be. As we walk through a comprehensive list of questions that must be considered when selecting a move system, however, readers should better understand their options and begin eliminating the options that are impractical to meet their needs. From there, the ideal selection will hopefully begin to float to the top of the list.
So, what’s the best load-handling equipment for your needs? To start answering that question, we’ll begin by presenting a quick overview of the most common equipment and systems for moving heavy loads. Then, we’ll dive into the primary question that needs to be weighed.
- Quick Overview of the Most Common Load Handling Systems
- What Does the Load Weigh?
- How Much Flexibility or Maneuverability is Required?
- How Often and Far Does the Load Have to be Moved?
- What's the Cost?
- Operating the Equipment
- Training and Certification
- How Are You Going to Make the Load "Loadable"?
- What Kind of Training and Certifications are Required?
- What are the Safety Considerations of Each System?