Materials Handling & Movement

Mechanized Systems

  • Lift trucks (forklifts) - limited to handling unit loads as high as 40 feet
  • Rider trucks - small general purpose trucks used in a warehouse
  • Towlines - overhead or in-floor cables that provide continuous power to four-wheel trailers
  • Tractor trailers - a driver guided unit towing a number of individual four-wheel trailers (typically 4x8 feet trailers)
  • Conveyors - power/gravity, roller/belt product movement

Semi-Automated Systems

  • Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) - a tow tractor that is automatically guided by lines placed in the warehouse floor
  • Automated sortation - computer- and robotics-based automated sorting equipment, commonly used with conveyors
  • Robotics - commonly used to build or break down unit loads
  • Live Racks - storage rack where product automatically flows to the desired selection position (commonly using gravity flow & rollers)

Automated Systems

  • Automated storage and retrieval systems - uses high-rise storage racks (as high as 120 feet) stacking palletized cartons in a mechanized handling system. Aisles range from 120 to 800 feet in length, with horizontal speeds of 300-400 feet per minunte and hoisting speeds of 100 feet per minute or more. Provides maximum storage density and minimizes labor cost at high capital expense.


  • Bowersox, Closs & Cooper, 2010. Supply Chain Logistics Management, 3rd Edition.
  • Wikipedia, 2011.