As most manufactured goods rely on chemicals, the chemicals industry is a crucial element of almost all value chains. It is comprised of several core manufacturing segments: agricultural and industrial chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, oils, and gas. 

Europe is the second-largest chemicals producer globally, with the total revenue of the global chemical industry amounting to almost four trillion U.S. dollars in 2019. The chemicals industry relies on warehouses to store and handle materials. Due to the potential safety concerns around handling hazardous materials, it is important chemical warehouses use productivity-boosting equipment and storage solutions. 

What are some of the challenges the chemical industry faces and what has Yale done to make handling easier and more efficient? 

Handling in Explosive Environments

In the chemical industry, there will be instances where explosive vapours, gases, and liquids are present in operations. The chemicals that are handled can have a variety of different temperature flashpoints. For example, some materials can have points of self-ignition as low as -50 degrees Celsius. Ensuring that sources of ignition are shut off and a build-up of explosive material is detected early is essential in this industry. 

Yale works with leading providers of explosion proofing and gas detection, which are available on most warehouse and counterbalance units. 

Awkward loads

The chemical industry has some of the most challenging loads you can imagine. Flexible intermediate bulk containers (big bags) can be up to two metres in height and can weigh up to a tonne. Tall loads, such as gas canisters, are also handled regularly. Solutions from Yale can help reduce load and infrastructure damage, thus increasing productivity. 

Firstly, the raised operator cab is available on selected Yale lift truck models. It gives the operator a slightly higher than normal vantage point, increasing visibility over the load. 

Secondly, in applications that require a lot of reverse driving, the rotating operator seat is an option. This ergonomically efficient solution enables the driver to rotate themselves to stay comfortable in the reverse position, reducing back and neck pain. 

Space limitations and awareness

The industry is seeing an increase in truck and pedestrian traffic in restricted infrastructure areas. The wellbeing of operators and pedestrians is paramount, and when operating close to each other, there is potential for incidents to happen. Yale has introduced several solutions that can help foster a smooth and safe production flow. 

Compact forklift trucks and zero-turn radius trucks have been developed specifically for high lift applications, which allow for greater manoeuvrability in confined spaces and provide versatility. 

Lighting options are also available to increase awareness for both pedestrians and operators. Pedestrian awareness lighting illuminates the truck before being directly visible to the pedestrian. Halogen lights can illuminate the area in which the truck is working, increasing visibility and operator awareness. 

Other awareness solutions include white noise alarms, speed restrictions on trucks, and object detection systems. 

Our three-part Chemical Handling Insights series on YouTube explains the risks in these highly challenging environments and how Yale solutions can be applied effectively. 

For more information on efficient and cost-effective materials handling in chemical applications, speak to your local Yale dealer or visit