Moving heavy loads over long distances, and for the better part of the day, is excruciating, to say the least. Luckily, with the right equipment, you can eliminate most of the hassle.
Hand trucks and trolleys are simple yet highly effective pieces of material handling equipment that can move any type of load, safely and securely. And they do this multiple times each day in fast-paced environments like warehouses and manufacturing plants without any issues.
All trolleys are built tough, designed to be easy and safe to use and maneuver, and protect the load while it’s transported to the designated location.
Types of Hand Trolleys
There are dozens of types of hand trolleys that can fit into a few different categories. Based on where they’re used, trolleys can be defined as warehouse, construction, all-terrain, workshop, garden, office, hospital, mailroom, and storeroom trolleys among many other types.
Based on load-carrying capacity, there’s a simpler choice between a light, medium, and heavy-duty trolley. Whereas the materials used in their construction divide trolleys into metal and plastic variants.
And depending on the room they take up and how they’re assembled, trolleys can be standard or foldable. The list can be further populated with trolleys that have special features for the settings or intended loads and whether they’re manually or electrically powered.
Most definitions though categorize trolleys by the parts that carry the load. This leads to platform, and shelf or tier trolleys, each with many subtypes.
1) Platform Trolleys
Platform trolleys are some of the most common types used in storing and transporting extra-large loads. They have heavy-duty platforms to secure the load and sit on 2 or 4 wheels or castors. The materials that go into making the platforms often determine the weight they can carry.
Stainless steel in thicker gauges is preferred for carrying items with a bit more heft, as you’ll find in warehouses or workshops. Aluminum is a good choice if you need ample carrying capacity without the higher weight of a heavier steel trolley. Though less common, platforms from hardened plastics can be found in hospitals, laundry and other trolley types intended for bulkier loads with less weight.
Different platform designs are for different types of goods. All have non-slip surfaces, some include side or edge lips to prevent goods from falling off, while others have affixed attachments like high sides or cages. The aim is to secure the load and allow for transporting of different goods.
Platform trolleys have handles on one or both sides to allow the user to move them. The handles can form part of the frame, or be shaped as T-bars, extending upwards from the (front) axle.
2) Shelf and Tier Trolleys
These feature two or more shelves and are often used for carrying a fair amount of smaller goods. The shelves can come in different configurations, and vary as to the load capacity, the attachments they can take, for example, one or more drawers, and the materials they’re made of.
Having several shelves helps with organization and carrying items of different sizes. Bottom shelves are often more solidly built and intended for larger and heavier items. Shelf designs differ too, leading to flat beds, shelves with side rails, or extra heavy-duty shelves that double as workbenches.
Shelf trolleys don’t come in the sizes of larger platform trolleys, nor do they have the same carrying capacity. But they do offer versatility. Variants include utility carts, service, tool or kitchen trolleys, stationery and office trolleys, and more. They’re all-rounders good for carrying a range of goods in different settings. Attachments like baskets, drawers, cages, bins, or lockable doors help in this respect.
In terms of materials, the shelf and tier trolleys are usually made of plastic, which lowers overall weight. This makes them easier to handle and manoeuvre. However, when you need absolute durability and will be using the trolley in harsher environments, go for stainless steel.
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3) Specific Trolley Types
Platform and shelf trolleys, and their variations, form the bulk of trolley sales. However, buyers will find a trolley for almost any setting or item they wish to carry. Interesting examples include large glass A-Frame trolleys, waste collection trolleys, single and double gas cylinder trolleys, drum bunding trolleys, cleaning and laundry carts, foldable appliance trolleys, powered scissor lifts and so much more.
Getting What’s Right
Choosing the right trolley depends on a few key factors. First is the weight, size, and type of loads that it is intended to carry. Then there is the working environment. And finally, any features that make the whole process of transporting those goods within the defined setting safer and quicker.
Carrying capacities range from 100 kilos in smaller plastic carts to over 3 tons in large, electrically powered trolleys and trucks. Determine the approximate weight of the goods to get the right trolley.
Loading and unloading need to be safe and with the least amount of physical strain. Platforms and shelves are located lower, or at appropriate heights to minimise the effort in loading and unloading items.
Where there are very heavy objects, consider powered and high-lift trolleys. These can safely load items sitting higher up and transport them to greater distances. If the trolley is to be used in larger premises, and for moving, stocking, or storing heavier items, these are the trolleys to get.
The working environment where the trolley is used also matters. Consider the flooring, to get the right wheels or castors. These need to provide the right amount of grip to avoid any potential incidents, cope with the weight and be durable enough where chemicals, liquids or heat are present. Go for rubber wheels in trolleys used in slippery, wet, or polished floors, and hard-wearing polyurethane castors for concrete.
Castors can be fixed or swivel, to allow for easier movement. Ensure that they are fitted with brakes for maximum safety, and when leaving the trolley unattended.
Materials and trolley sizes mean differences in durability, weight, and how easily they can get to the desired location. Plastics are good against dents, and corrosion and in wet settings like kitchens or laundries. Aluminium is rust-free, durable, lightweight, heat-resistant, and non-magnetic. Steel can rust and stain over time, but has the highest strength.
Go for lighter and smaller trolleys where possible, without compromising the required carrying capacity and overall strength and durability. Also look to minor details, like the comfort in handles, easy stowing when not in use, and trolleys of the right fit for intended operators.