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How to choose the perfect sack truck

A sack truck is an invaluable asset for all sorts of businesses. If your business has anything to do with either warehousing, logistics, or managing stock - a sack truck should be on your list of things to purchase sooner rather than later. As with all things, however, there are many different sack trucks available out there.

Here's your one-stop guide to make sure you choose the right sack truck for you. But first, the basics.

What is a sack truck?

Before looking for the ideal sack truck for your needs, it will help to know exactly what you're dealing with. A sack truck can come in many forms, but at its basic level it's essentially a trolley designed in the shape of an 'L'. There'll be handles at the top, wheels at the bottom, and a lower lip which can be used for loading.

What is a sack truck useful for?

A sack truck is a trolley designed to carry loads. It's that simple. The premise is that one person can carry multiple loads with ease in one trip when using one. They can deal with weight far in excess of what they could handle if they were manually picking up the cargo. As the name implies, they're useful for carrying sacks, as well as boxes, drums, and other assorted items.

What are they made from?

Sack trucks can be made from a number of different materials, but you'll generally find the two most common ones used are either aluminium or steel. Each, naturally, has their own benefit. Steel sack trucks are much more common, and will offer a high degree of durability at a comparatively lower price point. Aluminium is a much lighter material - so an aluminium sack truck is going to be considerably easier to manoeuvre, and less tiring to use.

What would the benefits be for you?

So now you know what a sack truck is - but before you invest in the right one, you need to know why a sack truck makes so much sense.

The first, and very important, benefit of using a sack truck is employee safety. It's so easy for an employee to do themselves serious damage by attempting to carry an item that's too heavy. Using a sack truck means things can be manoeuvred with ease, without the risk of strained backs and pulled shoulders.

Another reason to consider using sack trucks is efficiency. With multiple loads able to be carried in one go, your whole warehouse/yard will operate much smoother. Cargo can be taken between destinations considerably faster than it can with employees simply carrying it piece by piece.

Depending on the sack truck you choose, they're also affordable in the long run. There's no fuelling required, very little in the way of ongoing maintenance, and they're easy to use even by those who have minimal training. This, combined with the aforementioned benefits, and others besides, make sack trucks a wise investment.

What kinds of sack truck are available?

Though the broad definition of a sack truck is a roughly 'L' shaped trolley, the reality is that there are many different sack trucks available, depending on your requirements.

Here are some of the common varieties of sack truck you can choose from, and why they might appeal to you.

Adjustable sack trucks

Adjustable sack trucks, as the name implies, offer a degree of adjustability - usually in terms of the way the platform operates. You may be able to extend the platform, for example, to comfortably deal with slightly larger than normal load, or there may be an extra folding bar to help with load stability.
You might find an adjustable sack truck most useful if your business is going to have employees dealing with a variety of different loads. If cargo is going to be of varying dimensions, the extra adjustability can help ensure the loads are safely contained on the cargo platform.

Folding sack trolleys

Folding sack trolleys will have a mechanism by which they can fold either in half or to a much smaller size than when fully extended. This, of course, makes them much easier to store. Folding sack trolleys are often much lighter weight than their more rigid counterparts.

A folding sack trolley is going to be ideal for any location where space is at a premium, so particularly busy loading areas without much dedicated trolley storage. They're also going to be useful if you aren't going to need to use your sack trolley every day, as you can store it safely until needed.

Stair climbing sack trolleys

Sack trolleys are a great way of transporting goods across flat, smooth floors. There's going to be a bit of an issue when you come to some stairs, however. This is where stair climbing sack trolleys come in, which have been specially designed to handle stairs - usually through clever re-designing of the wheels.

These, naturally, make a perfect choice when employees are going to have to deal with stairs as they use the sack loader. They may be a more practical choice for smaller shops, or for offices, where loading bays are often a little tighter than the majority of warehouses.

Powered sack trucks

A powered sack truck will not require an operator to use their strength to move it - they normally operate via electric motors. All the operator will have to do is use the "throttle" to determine the speed, and dictate the direction of travel.

Powered sack trucks are the better choice if you're anticipating consistently heavy loads. As they don't require any human effort to move, they're able to transport consistently heavier cargo with relative ease. Powered sack trucks can also be designed to handle stairs. 

Deciding on your needs

Now you know the different types of sack truck available, it's time to think about your needs. 

How often are you going to be using it?

If you're going to be using the sack truck through most of the day, every day, you might want to consider getting a more traditional style rigid design. If you're only going to be using it every now and then, you're best suited to a folding sack truck to be able to store it easily when it's not required.

Where are you going to be using it?

Using a sack truck on a smooth warehouse floor is one thing, but if you're going to be dealing with stairs at any point, the sack truck needs to be designed to handle them. Consider the location you'll be using the sack truck, as this will considerably narrow down the field of practical options open to you. 

What sort of cargo will it be carrying?

A sack truck is designed to carry multiple heavier items at once while remaining safe and easy to manoeuvre. So if you want a sack truck for general cargo and logistics, you have a wide choice open to you. For heavier loads, however, a powered sack truck is always preferred for ease of use and employee safety.

How much do you have to spend?

Budget is of course always going to be a major consideration when it comes to choosing the right sack truck for you, as there are sack trucks available at every price point. It's worth investing in one, however, if you intend to use one regularly - they can provide surprisingly strong improvements to overall business efficiency.

Weight limits matter

An important consideration when choosing your sack truck is the approximate weight of the cargo you intend to be moving with it. This matters, a lot, so it's important you place some serious thought into accurately determining the weight of the goods that you'll be using the sack truck for.

All sack trucks will have a weight limit, which should be clearly advertised. If you go over the weight limit, you will be risking personal injury for the person operating the sack truck - but there's more to it.

Components used in the sack truck are stress-tested to work reliably at certain weight limits. If you exceed those weight limits regularly, you're putting yourself at serious risk of potentially warping, buckling, or otherwise damaging components. This could mean either expensive repairs or needing a brand new sack truck.

When considering weight limits, it's always best to give yourself some leeway and get a sack truck that is rated to carry weight a fair degree higher than you intend to use it for. This will make it useful if you do ever need to move heavier loads, as well as give you peace of mind that the unit isn't under any excess stress.

Get help and advice

If you're still not sure about the right sack truck for you, you should get in touch with a professional industry supplier - such as SHS Handling Solutions. With a wide variety of sack trucks available, they have considerable experience in providing sack trucks to all manner of businesses.

So, all you need to do is get in touch and to tell SHS Handling Solutions what your requirements are. If you have a specific need, use, or budget in mind, they will be able to point you in the right direction. If you want something that is very specialised, you even have the option of having a bespoke sack truck built for your unique needs.

There's no way to beat the peace of mind you get when you're able to speak to another human being, who is able to provide you with help and guidance. SHS Handling Solutions can point you in the right direction to find the ideal sack truck for you.