Start-Up Guide #5: Material Handling

Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson

Why should material handling be a top priority on your set-up equipment list?

Protecting yourself and your workers from injury is not "optional" nowadays. There are major financial consequences if you cut corners on safety. The other loss factor is the money wasted from inefficient material handling.


Download the Material Handling Shop Guide

A diagram and equipment list for the ideal setup for efficient material handling.



For most shops, the fastest and easiest method is the most popular. Unload with a forklift, and move it over to a slab cutting tilt table. It’s basic, gets the job done, and is a great first step.

Increase efficiency by adding a gantry crane. This will go over your cut station, paired with either a second slab clamp or a vacuum lifter.

This is an important step because your cutting station becomes a one man operation. The sawyer at this point is free to load full slabs, and unload cut work pieces without help. Before this, the sawyer will be pulling 1 to 3 men off the floor to load and unload the table throughout the day.


TipTime-wasting material handling practices cost up to most shops about an hour a day. Let's say your goal is to fabricate and install 5 kitchens a week. That costs most shops about $5,000 a year!


Other equipment like wheeled tables and A-frame carts add more safety and efficiency. These allow you to load finished countertops in the shop and then unload on the truck for install. It's an easy way to cut your load times in half.

Setup for Efficient Material Handling

Check out this diagram to see a great way to arrange a cutting station for efficient material handling, using only 300 sq ft.

Under a 20' gantry crane (A), you'll have your tilting work table (E) at one end and an A-frame slab rack (G) on the other. A slab clamp (D) will safely move slabs where they need to go. In the room between, you'll have space for a mobile cart or buggy (F). This can be wheeled back and forth to transport slabs for mitering, sink cutouts, or other tasks.


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Equipment List

  1. 20’ Vestil Steel Gantry Crane
  2. Vestil Quick Install Manual Trolley
  3. Vestil Powered Economy Chain Hoist
  4. Abaco Little Giant Lifter
  5. AccuGlide EZ-TILT Table
  6. Abaco Slab Buggy
  7. Abaco Truck A-Frame (modified)

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Download the Material Handling Shop Guide

A diagram and equipment list for the ideal setup for efficient material handling.