Hand trucks are extremely useful and versatile pieces of equipment that save your business time, effort, and money. But not all hand trucks are fit for the same applications. You want to look for the right solution for the task at hand, while also taking budget, safety, and ease of use into account.
What Kinds of Hand Truck Are Available?
Conventional, upright hand trucks are general purpose trolleys that feature a small ledge on 2 large wheels. They're ideal for stacking long, heavy items or stacked up crates and boxes.
Folding hand trucks are compact and manoeuvrable, especially when the nose plate is folded inwards. However, they're only recommended for lighter loads because the folding mechanism may buckle under too much weight.
Stair climbing hand trucks feature 6 wheels (3 mounted on either side of the central axis) for extra stability when moving loads along inclines and up staircases. As the truck is pulled up the stairs, one set of wheels always contacts the stair above and eases the load up, while another rests on the stair below to prevent spillages.
Convertible, or 2-in-1 hand trucks feature 4 wheels (2 pairs per axis). They can be used upright, as a 2-wheel truck, or lowered horizontally on all 4 wheels for added stability and greater load area.
Powered hand trucks are robust and bulky, but they are the most suitable hand trucks for very heavy and irregularly shaped loads.
Are There Any Special Features You Might Need?
Whatever the type of hand truck, your business might benefit from using specific types of handles, frames, wheels, nose plates, or tyres. For instance, some hand trucks come with telescopic handles for added accessibility, while others come with a choice of single (pistol), double, or multiple (loop) grip handles.
Some feature curved backrests for carrying cylindrical items. Others come with a straight frame but give you the option to add braces or silicone moulds that cushion some of the impact of loading.
Wheel type and size matter as well. The larger the wheel, the greater the stride and the truck's stability on uneven terrain. Pneumatic tyres are excellent for shock absorption on hard surfaces. Balloon cushion tyres are just as effective but cause a level of vibration and noise that may be inappropriate for some settings.
The ledge or nose plate is also very important. Steel noses are chosen for their durability, while die-cast aluminium ones are temperature resistant and much lighter in weight. Extruded noses can scoop up stacks and lift more up the stairs.
How Often Are You Going To Be Using It?
If you intend to use your hand truck intensively in a retail or warehouse environment, it may be a good idea to look for accessories to speed things up, make loading easier, and prevent mishaps. Some premium hand trucks have in-built scales, for instance. Others come with safety hooks fastened on the backrest to stabilise the load, such as keg hooks.
There's even such a thing as a stair climber. It's basically a bar fitted to the backrest of an upright 2-wheeler that glides on stairs and takes away some of the strain of lugging heavy loads up them. And some hand trucks come with a lifter, which is essentially a crank fitted onto the frame that lifts the load to the height of a warehouse or shop shelf.
Where Are You Going To Be Using It?
Upright hand trucks are the loading equipment of choice for small, single-storey premises like express supermarkets and convenience stores, restaurants, and stockrooms/ small warehouses.
Folding hand trucks are the equipment of choice for office and commercial spaces with an established ebb and flow of deliveries, but any commercial space would do well to have one.
Stair climbing hand trucks are ideal for commercial premises laid out over several storeys, but with no lifts.
Convertible or 2-in-1 hand trucks are at their most useful in warehouses with a diverse stock portfolio and with various room and shelf heights.
Powered hand trucks are worthwhile for warehouses and commercial spaces with heavy footfall and a constant to and for of foot traffic and deliveries.
What Sort of Cargo Will It Be Carrying?
Upright hand trucks can carry tall loads of moderate weight like canisters, sacks, or gas cylinders. Depending on the size of the ledge, they can also carry bulky items like boxes of books and bottles.
Folding hand trucks are space-savers often used with large and light items like toys, textiles, and plastic containers.
Stair climbing hand trucks should only be used with tightly packaged, non-fragile items because of all the jiggling and shaking involved in moving the load up and down the stairs one step at a time.
Convertible or 2-in-1 hand trucks tilt to slip under shelves or fit in tight spaces, so they aren't suitable for items that need to be kept upright, such as live plants.
Powered hand trucks are especially useful for carrying fragile but heavy items quickly, smoothly, and gently. Pallets of granite chopping boards and boxes of laboratory equipment are just a couple of examples.
What Weight Limit Are You Working With?
There are two weight limits to bear in mind: 100kg and 200kg. If you don't intend to load more than 100kg on your hand truck, then a lightweight and easily handled folding or upright hand truck should do the job. If you think you might exceed 100kg, even occasionally, you'll need an upright model or a 2-in-1 (4-wheeled) hand truck with the appropriate height specifications. If your loads are likely to exceed 200kg, you'll likely need a powered hand truck, or at the very least an upright model with a deep and sturdy nose plate.
How Much Do You Have To Spend Per Unit?
Prices vary tremendously between the different types of hand trucks mentioned above, and they mainly depend on the maximum load weight and volume. Upright hand trucks are the cheapest, with prices between £30 and £250 per piece. Foldable and convertible hand trucks start at a similar price but don't go over £170. Stair climbing hand truck prices start at about £50, but they can cost many hundreds of pounds if they are fitted with cranks, climbers, and other accessories. As for powered hand trucks, these cost upwards of £4,000. At Steps and Stillages, you'll find the right hand truck for your budget, be it new, used, reconditioned, or a rental.
Find Out More
At Steps and Stillages, we've been growing with our customers for over 35 years. We understand growth and we can appreciate the needs of businesses today. To find out more about our range of access and transport equipment for shops and warehouses, please get in touch today.