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  • Travis Wright

6 Things to Consider when Buying a Material Handling Stacker

Whether you’re purchasing your first material handling stacker or are simply replacing an old one, determining which stacker to buy can be tricky. There are just a few things you’ll need to take into account when making your decision.

1. Powered Vs. Manual

Material handling stackers can utilize either a manual-lift system or a powered-lift system. When trying to decide which is the better option, consider your workflow optimization needs. Do you need to relocate individual pallets occasionally or do you need an additional work-horse machine? By answering this question, you’ll be able to determine whether you need a manual stacker or a powered stacker.

Manual Stacker

A manual pallet stacker is powered with a foot pump, hand pump, and hand crank. Keep in mind that while the effort needed to power manual stackers is not unreasonable, they are best suited for light loads.

Powered Stacker

Run-on AC or DC electric motors, powered lift stackers can lift loads with the touch of a button. This is the ideal option when lifting heavier weights or running more intense cycles.

2. Weight Capacity

The weight of what you’re going to be lifting and transporting is a big factor in determining the proper stacker for your needs. Establish the minimum and maximum load you intend to lift with the material handling stacker. This will help you narrow down your options.

Another factor that can help in the decision-making process is understanding the load center. The load center is the distance from the center of an evenly distributed load to the back of the stacker’s forks. Consider the types and sizes of the loads you’ll be lifting and transporting when selecting your new material handling stacker.

3. Base Legs Vs. Counterbalanced

A base leg stacker is very similar to a counterbalanced stacker; however, they are not interchangeable and feature some key differences.

Base Leg Stacker

A base leg stacker supports the weight of the load by using base legs — that carry the load directly over them. The shorter overall length of a base leg stacker allows it to work in tighter spaces. This type of material handling stacker is good for tasks like servicing racks and stacking pallets.

Counterbalanced Stacker

A counterbalanced stacker uses counterbalance weight to distribute loads. This allows them to operate in narrower aisles because they don’t have straddling legs outside of the body unit. Counterbalanced stackers are also able to lift standard pallets and actually feature the highest lifting mast among the various types of walkie stackers

Keep in mind that due to the counterbalance weight, this stacker has the longest total length, resulting in a larger required turning circle. Counterbalanced stackers are appropriate for transferring loads from grade to dock level, loading, and unloading trucks, or in situations when base legs may get in the way.

4. Walkie Vs. Ride-On

Walkie stackers and ride-on walkie stackers are extremely similar in design. But there is one key difference that sets them apart from each other.

Walkie Stacker

A walkie stacker, like the name implies, is a walk-behind pallet stacker with a mast for lifting pallets vertically. It uses legs that sit under the forks to distribute the load weight. These are commonly used in applications that require transportation and stacking of pallets.

Ride-On Walkie Stacker

A ride-on walkie stacker is very similar to a standard walkie stacker, except that it features a platform and controls to allow for the operator to ride the stacker.

5. Fixed Straddle Vs. Adjustable Straddle Vs. Fork Over

A straddle stacker with base legs usually has three configurations to choose from: fixed, adjustable, and fork over.

Fixed Straddle

A fixed straddle material handling stacker has legs that come in a predetermined width. When ordering this type of stacker, make sure the inside dimension of the straddle legs is greater than your largest pallet’s width. A fixed straddle can be used with any type of pallet or skid, including pallets with closed bottoms.

Adjustable Straddle

The legs of an adjustable straddle can have a wider or narrower inside dimension depending on your needs. Adjustability typically ranges from 10 to 16 inches. This type too can be used with any type of pallet or skid.

Fork Over

The legs of a fork-over stacker can sit directly under the forks. But keep in mind that a fork stacker can only be used with open bottom pallets or skids.

6. Lifting Height

Your maximum lifting height is an extremely important factor when purchasing your new material handling stacker. Thankfully, you have two great options to choose from that can help, whatever your needed height may be.

Fixed Height

Most material handling stackers have a fixed height that varies by model. If you have a maximum or minimum height that will remain constant, this may be the option for you.

Telescoping Mast

Need to reach higher heights? A telescoping mast maybe your best option. It features an inner mast within its outer mast channel. When forks are raised to a height beyond the limits of the outer mast, the inner mast telescopes out to gain additional lift height. Keep in mind that telescoping masts have a lower overall lowered height.

Let Handling Concepts Help

Handling Concepts has a wide variety of material handling stackers to choose from, as well as heavy-duty lift tables and drum handling equipment. Whatever your handling needs, we can help. Have a question or need more information? Let our material handling experts help.


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