Products Product Focus 2020 Material Handling

Trends in ... material handling

'Safety and productivity are key'

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What’s the latest in the area of safe material handling? Safety+Health recently spoke with Matt Spang, material handling product director for Neenah, WI-based Appleton Mfg. (a Double E Co.), to get his take. Here’s what he had to say.

Safety+Health: Are there any recent innovations in the field of material handling?

Matt Spang: Customer challenges help shape innovation. In their search to identify new ways to improve their processes and increase efficiencies, they task the market to create new products and technologies. Safety and productivity are key, and material handling manufacturers seek to maximize both. The advances in battery technology are changing the game quite a bit. As battery capacities and charging efficiencies increase, material handling products are changing. Longer and more powerful run times; less time charging; and smaller, more powerful batteries allow for more ergonomic and design advances. So, we’re seeing more powerful and longer-running equipment in smaller design frames.

S+H: What do you wish employers and workers better understood about material handling?

Spang: Working faster isn’t always working smarter. Moving materials safely is obviously paramount to worker safety, but it also reflects heavily on the bottom line. Indirect costs related to worker injury, or the loss of expensive material and the cost to dispose of it, significantly impacts profitability. A mindful and holistic approach that prioritizes operator safety and maximizes efficiencies benefits businesses the most. Material handling products maximize that potential by reducing injuries and reducing material damage and waste.

S+H: What concerns or questions are customers coming to you with about material handling?

Spang: The most common request from our customers is: “How can we help increase productivity and operator safety with solutions that utilize the smallest footprint?” The ability to move large loads with a compact and powerful device is an ideal solution. Customers are constantly looking for new, smaller solutions to move large and heavy loads. This is driving the industry toward smaller and more efficient products to safely accomplish material moves.

S+H: What’s on the horizon for these products?

Spang: As industries continue to become more and more competitive, companies will continue to seek solutions that enable them to maximize their profitability. While ergonomics, safety and productivity have always been important drivers, energy efficiency is now an important factor in increasing efficiency and safety. Again, recent advances in battery technology are going to change material handling into the future. They increase capacities and offer advantages in other design and operational aspects.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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