Common Material Handling Mistakes to Avoid

February 29, 2024

It’s normal for many warehouses to experience challenges like a lack of storage space and equipment breakdowns, but it’s important to prevent them. Resolving problems like defective equipment, cluttered aisles and insufficient training means your team can continue to work effectively and productively.

With proper planning and preparation, you can avoid these issues and keep operations running smoothly. Explore the most common material handling issues in warehouses and ways to keep them from happening in your facility.

Top 6 Material Handling Mistakes and How to Prevent Them

The truth is that minimal storage, equipment issues and improper maintenance could be costing your warehouse valuable time and money. Fortunately, these mistakes can be fixed and even prevented by following these tips.

1. Inadequate Training

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires special training and certification to operate a forklift. Employees should understand basic controls, including what the controls do, how they work and where they are. Operators should also know what to avoid during equipment use, like exceeding load limits.

Misuse and accidents are more likely to occur in your warehouse when employees lack proper training. While OSHA certification requirements don’t apply to all material handling equipment, your staff can still benefit from in-depth training programs. Personnel should complete material handling training courses for all units in your warehouse, including:

  • Aerial work platforms
  • Forklifts
  • Overhead cranes

Even the most experienced employees should receive regular training. Adequately training your team promotes a safer work environment and fewer injuries as well as protects your business from fines and other liability concerns.

Alta Material Handling offers comprehensive training programs for safely operating our products, including forklifts, aerial platforms, overhead cranes, skid steer loaders and fall protection equipment. Learn more about our training opportunities today.

2. A Lack of Technology and Automation

Relying too much on manual labour can quickly lead to fatigue, burnout and productivity loss. Motorized shuttles, conveyors, stacker cranes and other automated equipment are reshaping material handling operations for the better.

Warehouse technology can facilitate various operations like inventory receipt, dispatch, picking and packaging. Automating different processes could be the game-changer your facility needs. In particular, warehouses can bolster their efficiency by investing in advanced technology like robotics and upgraded power sources.


Many warehouses are incorporating robotics solutions into their operations, like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

Robotic material handling systems can automate the picking, placing and transporting of different materials in your facility with unparalleled efficiency and accuracy. Robotic systems are ideal for risky, tedious and physically demanding applications, like working in cramped spaces and lifting heavy objects. They can also reduce the number of repetitive strain injuries in your warehouse while boosting overall productivity.

Upgraded Power Sources

Sustainable business practices are on the rise, which is why many warehouses are shifting from internal combustion engines to battery-powered forklifts. With upgraded battery technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries, you can charge material handling equipment faster. Your units can also hold a charge for longer periods, yielding more productivity and uptime.

At Alta Material Handling, we provide equipment from Alta Robotics. These products help distribution centres make their material handling operations faster, safer and more productive. Discover how solutions from Alta Robotics can help your warehouse achieve its business goals.

3. Honeycombing

“Honeycombing” occurs when a warehouse has empty pockets of space throughout the facility. In other words, the warehouse does not fully leverage its storage capacity. 

Honeycombing can cost a facility both time and money as well as create crowded aisleways, cluttered spaces and disorganized inventory. These issues decrease storage space and impede your team’s ability to locate products easily and move efficiently while handling materials. It also requires more time to navigate storage systems and pick orders, reducing productivity.

Strategically planning your layout can minimize warehouse honeycombing. Steps to take include:

  • Monitoring your inventory and conducting regular audits.
  • Using the correct pallet rack sizes.
  • Marking and labelling pallet racks.
  • Ensuring consistent stock rotation to prevent items from being unused for extended durations.
  • Training warehouse employees on storage and inventory management procedures.

Alta Material Handling offers products and services from PeakLogix, such as warehouse management software (WMS). These solutions optimize inventory management and order accuracy. Subsequently, they help reduce honeycombing and other storage complications in your warehouse.

4. Minimal Storage Diversity

A cookie-cutter pallet racking system won’t work for most warehouses where products are constantly shifting. That’s why a lack of diversity in storage media is a prevalent issue in many distribution centres.

When all storage materials are the same, you can quickly run out of space when your inventory requirements change. Even items from the same manufacturer may change shape, size and weight with each update.

You can diversify your storage system by integrating multiple racking configurations, such as:

  • Single and double deep racks
  • Pallet flow racks
  • Push-back racks
  • Case-flow racks

It’s important to have the tools and resources to handle evolving inventory. Leveraging various storage options can help you prepare for these changes.

PeakLogix specializes in various inventory management solutions to handle fluctuating inventory needs. For example, sortation systems can automatically identify products and direct them to the proper locations, maximizing cycle times and flow.

5. Insufficient Maintenance

Another typical mistake is failing to keep up with regular equipment servicing. Preventive maintenance is essential to ensure your material handling equipment continues to run smoothly. OSHA also has rigorous requirements for forklift maintenance that must be kept in mind.

Routine warehousing tasks become more challenging without functional forklifts, conveyors and other systems. Employees need reliable equipment to complete picking, retrieving, storage and other processes. Standard maintenance should include:

  • Monitoring and topping off fluid levels, including engine oil, brake fluid and coolant.
  • Inspecting tire condition and pressure.
  • Checking hoses and belts and replacing them when necessary.

Consider hiring a professional to handle maintenance and repairs for your material handling equipment on a regular basis. This way, you can avoid costly repairs and frequent breakdowns that disrupt operations.

Alta Material Handling’s certified technicians can perform repairs and maintenance needed to keep your forklifts functional and reliable. Extend your fleet’s life span with services from our full-service forklift dealership.

6. Low-Quality Equipment

Durable, high-performing material handling equipment is vital for successful warehouse operations. One of the biggest mistakes in distribution centres is cutting corners when renting or purchasing machinery. You might save money on upfront expenses, but inefficient equipment can mean more expenses down the road. Faulty equipment often requires more frequent repairs, maintenance and downtime.

To avoid this mistake, consider investing in reliable, long-lasting material handling equipment from a reputable dealer like Alta Material Handling. Our forklifts and other machinery can provide the performance you need for smooth, efficient warehouse operations.

Alta Material Handling: Your Material Handling Equipment Dealer in Quebec and Ontario

Now that you know some common material handling mistakes to avoid, you can adjust your warehousing operations to keep them at bay. Investing in high-quality equipment is a crucial step in this process.

If you’re searching for a material handling equipment dealer in Ontario or Quebec, turn to Alta Material Handling. Our products come from highly respected brands in the warehousing equipment industry such as Yale, Taylor-Dunn and Combilift. We have new and used material handling solutions available for rent and purchase, including:

Browse our selection of equipment and request a quote today! For any questions about finding the right products for your requirements, fill out our contact form or call 905-851-6620.

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