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Hand Trucks vs Dollies

Hand Trucks vs Dollies

Supplying your warehouse with the correct transportation equipment to move products and heavy loads safely and effectively will help protect your staff from workplace injuries. Hand trucks and dollies are two pieces of equipment that are essential for streamlining your operation. Learn the difference between hand trucks and dollies to determine which better suits your business needs.

Use the following links to navigate this guide and learn more about hand trucks and dollies:
  1. What is a Dolly?
  2. What is a Hand Truck?
  3. Types of Dollies
  4. Types of Hand Trucks
  5. Types of Hand Truck Wheel Materials

Wesco Industrial Products 240030 28 1/2

What is a Dolly?

A dolly is a type of transportation equipment that features a platform with wheels. The platform provides a higher level of stability and mobility than hand trucks, so you don't have to worry about items falling off. This makes larger or bulkier items more suitable for a dolly. Because of the dolly's raised platform, items will need to be lifted off the ground and onto the dolly manually or with a device.

Lavex Industrial 1000 lb. capacity hand truck

What is a Hand Truck?

A hand truck is a type of transportation equipment that features a vertical, L-shaped design with an upright handle, two wheels, and a small bottom ledge. This design allows you to easily slide the hand truck's bottom underneath the item that needs to be moved without having to lift the item by hand. Once the item is securely on the hand truck, the truck can then be tilted backward until the weight is distributed over the wheels to allow the item to rest up against the back of the truck while your staff transports it.

Hand trucks are best suited for moving small and heavy items or moving small items in bulk. While most hand trucks are manually-operated, there are some that are motorized to help with especially heavy loads, uneven ground, and climbing stairs.

Types of Dollies

Here are some different types of industrial and foodservice dollies that are used to perform specific tasks. Always check a product's weight capacity before purchasing to ensure you're buying the best unit.

Drum on a drum dolly

Drum Dolly

Drum dollies are made from heavy-duty metal to transport 30 or 55 gallon steel drums with ease. Commonly used to transport oils, fuels, chemicals, and dry goods, this type of dolly is great to have on hand for both industrial and commercial applications.

Trash can on a trash can dolly

Trash Can and Recycling Dolly

Trash can and recycling dollies allow staff to comfortably maneuver full trash cans around your establishment and can help minimize cleanup time at the end of shifts.

Employee putting a keg onto a keg dolly

Keg Dolly

Keg dollies can help you efficiently transport full kegs in your manufacturing or distribution facility. They are also great for bars and restaurants, making it a quick and easy task for staff to roll kegs from the walk-in cooler to your bar during peak times.

Employee loading a utility dolly with milk crates

Utility Dolly

Utility dollies, or milk crate dollies, are great for food manufacturers and distributors to have on hand when transporting goods from your receiving area to your kitchen.

Dish dolly in a kitchen that is stocked with dinner plates

Dish Dolly

Dish dollies make it easy to store and transport a high capacity of dishes with one unit. Ideal for restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, or catering businesses, they can be used to keep washed dishes organized, or for placing at buffets for customers to take plates themselves.

Glass rack dolly in a kitchen with five glass racks on it

Glass Rack Dolly

Glass rack dollies allow you to easily stack racks of dishware or glassware on one portable unit. Ideal for restaurants, bars, and tap rooms, glass rack dollies aid in the storage and transportation of clean glassware.

Folding chair and table dolly full of folding chairs and folding tables

Table and Chair Dollies

Table dollies and chair dollies are ideal for moving folding tables and chairs from your storage area to event space quickly and easily. They are great to have on-hand for use at convention centers, banquet halls, and any other meeting or gathering spaces.

Food pan being loaded onto a food pan carrier dolly

Insulated Pan Carrier Dolly

Able to support loads of up to 550 lb., insulated pan carrier dollies are designed to quickly and painlessly transport stacked food pan carriers. Typically insulated food pan carrier manufacturers will also have a compatible dolly to ensure secure transport of their product.

Kitchen staff transporting bun sheet pans on a bun pan truck

Sheet Pan Dolly

Sheet pan dollies are ideal for transporting stacked bun pans in  bakeries, cafeterias, diners, and hotels. They are also great for storing pans under tables to save space while they're not in use. Some sheet pan dollies feature an easy-to-grab frame and handle for quick maneuvering throughout your kitchen.

Types of Hand Trucks

When purchasing a hand truck, it's important to consider how it will be used, how much it'll be used, and in what environment it will be used in. The type of hand truck you may need will depend on the load capacity you're looking to transport. Always check a product's weight capacity before purchasing to ensure you're buying the best unit for your needs.

Person transporting a box with a hand truck

Upright Hand Truck

An upright hand truck is your traditional, general purpose hand truck. They are an ideal option for moving boxes, small furniture, and appliances, making them great for warehouses, delivery services, and catering companies.

Person using a motorized hand truck to transport a pail up stairs

Motorized Hand Truck

Motorized hand trucks make it easier and quicker to move heavy, bulky loads. Some feature stair-climbing technology and most include an automatic brake that activates when the throttle is released for maximum safety. They are great for delivery services, event rentals, and catering companies.

Convertible hand truck holding a large package

Convertible Hand Truck

Convertible hand trucks can switch between two and four wheeled support to provide an upright and platform hand truck all-in-one. This dual function allows you to be able to carry heavier loads than a traditional hand truck.

Wesco Industrial Products 230018 steel appliance hand truck

Appliance Hand Truck

Appliance hand trucks are specifically designed for moving large, heavy appliances, making them ideal for distribution centers, delivery personnel, and moving companies. They feature heavy-duty straps and side rails to secure the appliance in place.


Person transporting a drum with a drum truck

Drum Truck

Drum trucks make transporting heavy drums throughout your manufacturing plant or warehouse simple and safe. They come with two or four wheels and some feature a drain stand to make draining drums easier. 

Person transporting a keg with a pail truck

Pail Truck

Pail trucks feature a supportive frame and hook that make it easy to load, tilt back, and securely move kegs, pails, buckets, or barrels. They are ideal for breweries, restaurants, and bars.

Harper 2456-63 pallet truck

Pallet Truck

Pallet trucks are designed to streamline loading and unloading materials onto pallets. They are ideal for warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other industrial applications.

Wesco Industrial Products 273512 350 lb. hand winch lift

Winch Lift

Winch lifts feature a manual winch crank and a large platform for simple lifting and lowering. It can be used to help load items on top of other goods or onto storage racks in your warehouse.

Wesco Industrial Products 260088 Rais-N-Rol machinery mover

Machinery Movers

Machinery movers are designed to safely and easily transport heavy industrial equipment from one location to the next. Machinery movers include an ergonomic lifting system to lift and lower cargo onto the platform or fork, and they typically come in pairs for a two-person operation. 

Warehouse employee using a tilt truck to transport large trash bags

Tilt Truck

Tilt trucks feature large capacities and their heavy-duty construction can handle heavy loads, which make them perfect for use in high-volume settings. The ergonomic, durable design is perfect for transporting a wide range of heavy items including waste and industrial materials.

Expert Tip

If you are transporting a bulky or heavy load, you may need a hand truck that includes added features, such as a belt tightener, chime hook, or rachet, to ensure easy, safe transportation. Check out the Features filter in our hand truck category to search for trucks with special features that will help with a specific task.

Types of Hand Truck Wheel Materials

It's important to check the wheel material when purchasing your unit to make sure it will stand up to the task at hand. If you are going over various uneven surfaces, you will need wheels with greater shock absorption, whereas if you are indoors, you will need non-marking, quiet wheels. Below are some common hand truck wheel materials and their benefits.

Restaurant Equipment

  • Pneumatic wheels are filled with pressurized air for shock absorption and a smoother ride when going over loose and uneven surfaces and curbs.
  • Semi-pneumatic wheels are partially filled with non-pressurized air for some shock absorption when going over uneven, bumpy surfaces and curbs.
  • Mold-on rubber wheels eliminate flats and provide a cushioned, smooth, and quiet ride to protect floors.
  • Micro cellular foam wheels give comparable cushion and performance to pneumatic wheels, but they do not contain air and thus cannot go flat.
  • Balloon cushion wheels eliminate flats and provide more bounce than solid rubber wheels.

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