The essentials to tackle supply chain issues and staff shortages 07 February 2023

By Dominic Slingsby, operations director, Slingsby

Supply chain issues in recent years have effected businesses in every industry on a global scale. Some experts predict a continuation of backlogs and shortages as the impact of volatile global markets continue to have an effect. So, what can be done to tackle these prolonged issues? 

Labour shortages have hit UK businesses across the public and private sectors, with 75% of companies struggling to hire staff according to recent research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Additionally, in 2021, 19% of all workplace accidents in the UK were related to lifting and handling, so using the right equipment is also an important health and safety matter. This is especially true in industries that involve the manual handling of heavy items. Correct labour-saving and handling equipment is vital to help overcome delays and staff shortages. Manual handling jobs are also made easier and quicker to complete, therefore keeping business running smoothly – while ensuring the risk of injury in the working environment is minimised.  

Hand-operated trucks

Hand trucks and platform trucks are among the most common types of hand-operated trucks. They are also one of the most versatile pieces of labour-saving equipment and can be applied for many different uses. This is thanks to the flexibility of their specifications – according to the setting they are intended for and what needs transporting. In such settings where heavy items need moving around, the space around a site or existing machinery might not always be appropriate for electric or drivable trucks. 

Pallet trucks

Pallet trucks are another important piece of equipment where goods are primarily transported on pallets, such as in warehouses and distribution centres in the logistics industry. These vehicles feature two forks to grip onto the pallet and a hydraulic system, which means they can be used by hand and with minimal effort – moving large quantities or heavy loads around different areas in a time efficient way. Electric-assisted pallet trucks can offer an even easier way for workers to move large loads.

Drivable trucks

The other main type of industrial truck used across the UK are motorised or fully drivable. This can include equipment like forklifts, sideloaders and order pickers. Some are designed solely for the movement of materials while others both load and stack. For example, if you have a small space with a stacking system, sideloaders are specially designed to easily navigate narrow aisles and store items at height. Stackers are another type of bulk material handling equipment that lift items off the ground and onto shelving. While they do a similar job to forklift trucks, stackers are less expensive to run and are thus a more cost-effective solution for small to medium applications.  

Electric drive power tugs

Whatever the industry sector, when it comes to heavy loads, electric drive-powered tugs may be a better solution for increasing efficiency. Using electric batteries, these programmable tugs can push, pull and steer wheeled loads around, and are useful for moving large items across inclines or declines. Drive-powered tugs allow for easy movement and require little physical effort from your workforce, meaning processes can be completed faster and thus increase productivity. 

Conveyor systems

For facilities that work with a large quantity of items, conveyor systems are a reliable method for moving items in bulk. While both motor-driven or manual conveyor systems can increase labour efficiency – while improving packing and dispatch times – motor-driven belts provide a greater degree of control for when items need to be moved across inclines or declines. 

Conveyor systems are also customisable and availible in a variety of types according to what they transport and where they need to be installed. Some of these include belt conveyors, gravity roller conveyors or flexible conveyors for a system that can adjust size as application needs change. 

The conclusion

It’s never been more important to help modern workforces maximise their time and energy by introducing labour-saving equipment that assists with handling and mobility. It’s also important to stress that there are many more benefits aside improving productivity. As both employers and employees continue to prioritise welfare, implementing the right equipment can help staff feel safer and more able to complete their tasks.

Before investing, the internal transportation methods chosen need to be appropriate for the given space and the type of materials that are being transported. With the correct equipement, warehouse operations can be increased while ensuring items are transported and stored safely. As a result, waste from damaged products can be reduced. In addition, implementing these systems can improve safety, especially in industries such as warehousing and logistics where improper storage is a leading cause of accidents. 

Content Director

Will Lowry Content Director t: +44 (0) 1727 743 888


Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.