An Introduction to Hand Trucks

The most elementary material handling equipment is the hand truck that is also known by many different names. Trolley, Dolly, trolley truck or Trundler whatever name may be used, it refers to the hand truck only. It is perhaps the most versatile and widely used material handling equipment for industrial and household applications. Whenever there is a need to move heavy items even through short distances, the hand truck is called for. A single person can capable handle heavy loads by using a hand truck and this shows the high efficiency of this small equipment that has a very simple design.

Simple design, highly efficient

The hand truck comes in a very simple design and consists of a platform supported on wheels on which the load can be placed. A vertical handle, which is slightly angled, is attached to the platform that enables pulling and pushing of the equipment. The lever action of the platform provides the mechanical advantage which together with the wheeled fulcrum makes it easy and convenient to move heavy loads with minimum effort and manpower. This equipment is particularly useful for moving heavy loads that have low ground clearance. The platform is slid under the load which to rests on it and the truck is then pushed in the direction where the load has to be moved. The lever action of the handle allows easy manipulation of the load by a single person which would otherwise have required several people to handle.

Design variants

  • Upright design – What has been described above is the hand truck in its simplest form and it is known as the upright design. Ideally, this type of equipment has two wheels and is suitable for handling loads not exceeding 500 pounds but specially constructed heavy-duty trucks can handle heavier loads.
  • Convertible design – Convertible hand trucks have four wheels that give it the advantage of being used as a cart also besides performing the tasks of an upright truck. These are designed to carry heavier loads and the rectangular shape of platforms is sometimes used to carry objects with odd shape. This is typically a hybrid truck that comes in a variety of sizes.
  • Speciality trucks – The design of these trucks are meant to carry specific items having some special shape or size. Machinery, furniture, crates and bags are usually handled by using speciality hand trucks.

Materials of construction

Generally, steel is the metal of choice for making hand trucks. The choice of material of construction for hand trucks depend on the use that it is meant for. For lighter loads and domestic use, aluminium is commonly used due to its good looks, light weight and anti-rust quality. Aluminium is also used for industrial hand trucks but is blended with other materials for imparting more strength that is necessary to handle heavy loads. Fibreglass and plastic hand trucks are also available for domestic use.

For safe use of hand trucks one has to adhere to the maximum capacity for which the truck has been designed.

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