One of the most effective and efficient ways to transport items from one place to another is with the humble trolley. It’s seen in hundreds of different settings and used to haul a scope of goods safely and with minimal effort.
These items are built tough, will last for extended periods, and get the job done without the risk of physical injury to the user. Choosing one, though, may be harder than it seems. There are dozens of varieties available, differing in size, loading capacity, and usage. This translates to different designs, bespoke materials, and various features that make material handling tasks a breeze.
Which Type Is Right For Me?
Most trolleys from the industrial trolley range fall within two categories – platform and shelf trolleys. The first is the mainstay of warehouses and storage facilities that deal with large turnovers of heavier items. On the other hand, the latter finds use in smaller commercial and consumer purposes.
Adding to the variety is a long list of specialist types used to transport specific goods in defined settings. This is just a general guideline, though, and the trolley you choose will meet your needs.
Once you decide what to get, shopping for trolleys is relatively easy. You can either do this in-store and handpick what ticks all the boxes, or explore an online trolley range with all the specs listed by size, weight, materials, and loading capacities. If you’re ordering more than a few trolleys, the second option can save you time and money.
Now on to the specifics.
The platform type consists of a large, low-set flat platform ideal for loading and carrying a range of differently-sized goods. They ride on four or more wheels or castors and have sturdy frames that elongate into grippy handles. The simple design works well with heavier and bulkier goods.
Specific features like swivelling castor handle that angle outwards and side rails to prevent goods from falling off ensure fast and safe material handling. Additions like non-slip or textured surfaces and cages extend the scope of what you can carry, meaning smaller items and those that need more care during transportation.
You’ll find platform models are time and cost-effective replacements for forklifts and larger pallet and hand trucks as their smaller size, and ease of use guarantee efficient workflow in factories, warehouses, schools, offices, and hospitals among other settings.
Shelf trolleys offer more variation in designs. They have two more shelves on either plastic or metal frames, four wheels for easy maneuvering, and handles at one or both ends. Compared to platform variants, shelf models are usually smaller and lighter and are best for transporting smaller items.
The placement and number of shelves provide good organisation and accessibility, in addition to safety. This can be further improved with the addition of cages, baskets, bins, and drawers and different design cues in terms of shelf materials and sizing.
Shelf trolleys are what you’d find in hotels, airports, offices, restaurants, workshops, libraries, laundry and mail rooms, and more.
The panel, waste collection, order picking, drum bunding, foldable, nestable, powered, appliance, and scissor lift trolleys are just a handful of different options for specialised loads and tasks. Add to this the heavy-duty option that is the industrial hand truck, dump truck carts, tow tugs, steerable skates, dollies and furniture moving sets, and you get a better picture of all that’s available.
The range of trolleys for sale may be huge, but there are a few additional things to consider before you buy. First of all, think about the setting, the distances that need to be covered regularly, the flooring surface, and whether you’ll be operating on flat areas or if there are inclines involved.
Moreover, space can be a concern in smaller operations, so you’ll need to consider storage and whether nestable or foldable variants will do a better job.
Wheel and castor designs and features can significantly impact efficiency, safety, maneuverability, and ease of use. Also, look to solutions that, in addition to transporting goods, provide a safe means of loading and unloading items at different heights, with assisted lifting and scissor lifts popular in this respect.
Another factor is the number, positioning, and materials that go in handles, as this will impact overall ease of use, grip levels, and handling. Lastly, any model you get needs to be sized and featured right for the intended loads. It means that using them won’t be physically tasking or be the reason for possible injuries or damaged goods.
With that said, whether you’re shopping for an online trolley or one in-store, here are a few common factors that will make choosing easier:
The length, height, and width impact two key material handling aspects. The first is whether the trolley has enough space to carry the intended load. Consider getting larger platform variants if carrying big and odd-shaped items with a flat surface. Or go for smaller shelf trolleys if carrying items of different shapes and sizes.
The second aspect relates to how easy the trolley is to handle and affects things like weight and general usability. Smaller trolleys may carry less but can speed up workflow and improve safety.
Materials and Build
Smaller variants made of lightweight yet durable reinforced plastics are a good option for loads not exceeding 250 kilos. The plastic design also won’t dent or pick up scratches. Nor will it rust when working in wet or corrosive conditions like kitchens, laundries, and automotive workshops. And they can be optioned in antibacterial surfaces where health is a concern.
If you need more loading capacity, then go for aluminium or steel. Aluminium trolleys are an alternative to plastics in that they too are lightweight and anti-corrosive, but can carry up to 500 kilos in the same outlay. These are also durable enough to withstand day-to-day handling operations in medium to large settings.
Steel is reserved for heavy-duty use in warehouses, distribution centres, and factories where large loads are common. Bigger platform trolleys can carry up to 1 ton, whereas powered and assisted variants can load and transport items up to 5 tons. Of course, these will be much heavier and need more space to operate at their optimum.
Wheels and Castors
Wheels and castors need to be of the right materials for the surface and the weight of the load. Polyurethane is a popular material and is used across different types of floors and with decent carrying capacity. Then, nylon wheels work best on tiled and concrete surfaces where corrosion resistance is a must. On the other hand, cast-iron wheels where absolute strength and durability are necessary, such as in environments with temperature extremes and rubber to curb vibrations in uneven floors and loose ground.
Wheel loading capacity is also determined by the size and the type of bearings. And lastly, consider wheels with integrated brakes, and swivelling wheels to safely maneuver trolleys in tighter spaces.