Drum Handling Equipment – The Ultimate Guide

Overview to drum handling equipment

drum handling equipment
A below-the-hook drum lifter from Morse Drum

Choosing drum handling equipment isn’t easy – users have a wide variety of choices and narrowing down to the specific equipment needed can be daunting.

Before deciding on a particular product, an end-user should have clarity that the proposed solution will fit their requirements. With this in mind, Raptor Supplies has put together a quick guide of things to consider when evaluating drum handling options.

1. What drum type are you working with?

Any solution should work with your particular drum type, whether a steel, poly or fiber drum. Be careful with fiber drums as picking the wrong product could lead to a puncture or damage

2. How large is your drum?

Consider the drum size, whether it’s a 30 gal / 113 liter, 50 gal/ 205 liter or 85 gal / 321 liter drum that needs to be handled or moved. Pay particular attention to the height of the drum. Drums that are too high or too short may require an accessory or a different drum handling solution

3. What is your drum diameter?

Will the product work with your drum diameter? Drums with diameters less than the standard 22.5” / 57cm diameter need to pay attention to this. From a safety perspective, drums need to fit securely and not be loose or too tight as to cause drum damage or work injuries

4. How heavy is the drum?

Whatever equipment you are evaluating needs to rated for the weight of your drum. Not a good idea to handle an 800 lb / 362 kg drum with equipment only certified to handle 400 lb / 181 kg

5. Do you need multi-functionality?

Does the equipment need to be multi-functional? For instance, do you need a drum lifer that dispenses as well? One should checking drum handling options that have more than one function. This can save you money and also floor space in your work area

6. Is the drum easily accessible?

Can a drum handler easily access the drum? Is there 4-sided accessibility to a drum or pallet + sufficient free space in front for the equipment to manoeuvre without obstruction?

7. Smooth or rimmed drum surface?

Is the drum surface rimmed or smooth? This should be considered when handling drums from the side (long edge) as some drum equipment will only work on either a rimmed or smooth drums but not both

8. Working with multiple drum types?

Do you need to handle one or several drum types / sizes? Is it worth investing in a unit that can handle multiple drum types? It could save you both money and avoid the need for having multiple drum handlers taking up valuable space in your facility

9. Is the drum moveable from its initial position?

Are you moving a drum off the ground, a pallet or a platform that won’t allow the legs of a drum handler to fit underneath? Any unit with forward legs will generally not fit under a pallet and would require a solution that can meet a pallet at right angles

10. Lifting height requirements?

Does the proposed solution lift the drum to the required height? The maximum height must fit your clearance requirement. Does the minimum height work with your drum height? (a unit that lowers to 25” / 63.5cm will not grab a drum with a height of only 20” / 50.8 cm that has to be lowered to ground level)

11. How often do you need to use the drum handler?

If you need to handle drums often, it may make sense to use a powered version to reduce fatigue or injury risks. This could be battery, AC-powered or pneumatic depending on the need. For those with occasional needs, a manual version would work both for your budget and drum handling needs

12. What voltage do you need?

If purchasing an electric drum handler, check that the electrical specifications conform to your region (115v vs. 220v / 50hz vs. 60hz / 1 phase vs 3 phase). Most countries outside the US use 220v / 50hz / 1-phase but some industrial environments use 3 phase power

13. Can the drum handler move around tight spaces?

Is your equipment going to operate in a confined work space? Make sure your area has the required height clearance to enable the equipment to work properly. If your work area has narrow corridors, be mindful that your solution will fit width and turning radius restrictions

14. Does the top rim grab the drum securely?

If you handle a drum vertically, make sure the drum has a rim that will securely catch with your equipment. Some handlers may require a minimum drum chime (length of the inside rim) to work

15. Do you need to handle non-standard drums?

Handling pails and cans often cannot be achieved with the same equipment used for a standard 30 or 55 gallon drums. Generally, there are drum handling equipment available that is designed specifically for handling smaller containers such as pails. Drums or containers that may have protrusions may not work on some drum handlers

16. Working in special environments?

Is the drum handling product for use in a food / pharmaceutical industries or in a hazardous or spark-prone environment? Stainless steel and non-sparking monel versions would be required in these work environments


We hope you find the above points useful when figuring out what drum handling equipment you need. Depending on the drum handler needed, some of the above points won’t apply. We offer drum handling equipment from a number of quality manufacturers, including, Morse Drum, Wesco and Valley Craft.

Any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us via phone, email, live chat or Whatsapp!

5 thoughts on “Drum Handling Equipment – The Ultimate Guide”

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