Published On: February 25, 2023Tags: , , ,

Buying an Industrial Manipulator for the First Time? Read This First

If you’re working on making your warehouse more productive, efficient and safer, you may be considering adding one or more industrial manipulators to your floor.

Industrial manipulators are excellent warehouse tools, and with a large and varied market of different styles and accessories, you’ll be able to find a manipulator that’s right for you and your business.

Besides increasing productivity and safety, industrial manipulators have other advantages, including helping you:

  • Save money: High-quality manipulators will last, on average, about 15 years. Reducing downtime due to broken or high-maintenance machinery
  • Adhere to high hygiene standards: In settings where corrosion and contamination are concerns, stainless steel manipulators can withstand exposure to corrosives as well as extreme – high or low – temperatures. The smooth surfaces on stainless machinery make it difficult for bacteria or other contaminants to hide.
  • Solve unique lifting needs: Do you have specific needs when it comes to your lifting equipment, such as space constraints, high ceilings or weight requirements? A custom-designed manipulator may be the best solution for your needs.

But finding the right machine means research, and when researching the industry for the first time, you may come across one or more terms about a machine’s style or ability that will leave you a little confused.

Because the industry has such a unique vocabulary, many first-time buyers find themselves overwhelmed. If you can’t tell your jib cranes apart from your hydraulic lifts, how are you supposed to be able to determine what style of manipulator is the perfect fit?

What You’re Looking For, All In One Place

We know that purchasing an industrial manipulator can feel a little stressful – after all, it’s a substantial investment for the good of your business. And since we’ve seen so many clients get stuck on industry terms they didn’t know, we wanted to find a way to help make your process a little easier.

That’s why we created our free Industrial Manipulator Glossary – all the vocabulary and definitions you need, all in one place.

Instead of having to research each new term you see, grab our glossary and keep it handy during your purchasing process. Replace your confusion with confidence as you make an informed decision on what style of manipulator will be right for your business.

Download our glossary here!

Our Solutions

Dalmec specializes in industrial double-articulated rigid arm manipulators and articulated cable balancers. Such devices are often used when:

  • A product needs to be inclined and/or rotated during the handling process.
  • A product is too heavy for a person to move manually.
  • A person will quickly fatigue from moving products manually.
  • A person will be put at risk for injury if they move a product manually.
  • A high volume of products must be moved quickly.

Rigid arm manipulators are most often used for heavier objects (up to 2,000 pounds) that need to be moved up and down or tilted, rotated, etc. They can handle non-standard shapes or materials with off-center weight. Items well-suited for handling with these manipulators include drums, wheels and tanks.

Cable balancers are best suited for moving lighter objects (less than 200 pounds) that are standard shapes. Instead of relying solely on a rigid, arm-like machine sans cables, cable balancers use cables (usually steel or nylon) to move products up or down.

Now that you have the terms you need to understand manipulators and know a cable balancer from a rigid arm manipulator, let’s look at three factors you need to consider when selecting the right ones for your operation.


What are you moving? How is it packaged? What is the weight, dimension and movement trajectory of the items to be moved?

Further, what category do the materials belong to – are they moved frequently or only from time to time? Where do they fit into your overall process? Consider the following areas:

  • Bulk materials: Handlers for bulk materials are designed to store, transport and control materials in loose bulk forms such as liquid, food and minerals. Some examples are stackers, conveyor belts and grain or bucket elevators.
  • Long-term storage and stock: This category includes shelves, pallets and racks where products are stored. Common examples of storage and handling equipment are drive-in and drive-thru pallet racks, sliding racks, drawers, bins, shelves, mezzanines and stacking frames.
  • Frequently moved materials: This category includes several different solutions that all provide transportation – from manual to powered and flat surfaced to forklifts. These industrial trucks include pallet jacks, hand, platform and pallet trucks and walkie stackers.

Your Facility

Can it accommodate the height, width and rack type of the manipulator? Also, are there any special requirements to meet safety, environmental or regulatory standards?


Ensure you know your budget for this investment. Remember, your initial costs may include upfront investments to get your new equipment installed and running, as well as training, future operating and maintenance costs. 

Additional Considerations

Speaking of costs, what type of ROI can you expect when you implement industrial manipulators into your processes? We encourage prospective clients to investigate the costs involved.  You can begin with a cost-benefit analysis to help you calculate your ROI and create a visual representation of your financial path toward updating your material handling methods.

You’ll also want to look at current workflow efficiency. Look at what you are currently doing with open eyes and ask for feedback from employees to get a clear picture of the efficiency and lifespan of your current processes. Once you have collected data from your assessment, you can evaluate your work processes and get an idea of the potential benefits of investing in manipulators.

What About Custom Solutions?

Standard industrial manipulators have the benefit of lower initial costs than custom-made machines, but in many situations, that’s where the benefits stop.

A one-size-fits-all approach can cause frustration for manufacturers who really need a custom device. When a machine isn’t built for a facility’s specific needs, there may be a significant gap between what the machine needs to do and its capabilities.

A custom-designed device helps make your employee’s jobs easier, safer and more productive and increases overall plant and warehouse efficiency. If the limitations of standard, ready-made manipulators are not affording you those long-term benefits, a custom-made option may be the best solution for your needs.

Your research on styles of manipulators, how they function and, perhaps most importantly, fit into your day-to-day operations to optimize your production capabilities will guide your selection of the best machinery for your business.

By using this article, our first-time buyer’s guide and expert advice from high-quality industrial manipulator manufacturers like Dalmec, you’re sure to make an informed decision that’s right for your business.

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