Monday, May 16, 2016

Ultimately Utilitarian Fork Lift Trucks May Suit Freight and Logistics Warehouses

Materials Handling Technology Moves On with Combination Reach, Counterbalance and Sideways Drive Units
Shipping News Feature
US – SWEDEN – EUROPE – WORLDWIDE – Nowadays sensational and innovative new fork trucks are available which, if widely adopted, could well revolutionise suitable freight and logistics warehouse operations. One area of supply chain technology in which technology is constantly evolving is the field of materials handling with bespoke options often meaning a drastic cut in turn round times, as opposed to settling for a standard off the shelf package. All busy freight and wholesale warehouses and storage facilities need to keep loading and stacking times to a minimum in order to reduce truck waiting times and staff costs.

One option which is proving popular in larger operations is the possibilities offered by autonomous trucks. Companies such as US headquartered Seegrid sell a range of autonomous pallet trucks and tow tractors both at home and in Europe which utilising vision guided technology ‘train’ the machines on preordained routes.

When however the need is for optimum performance in operations which are unique every time, such as a busy freight facility, human operation will always be the order of the day and the search to find a fork lift truck suitable for every requirement is the Holy Grail of the industry. We have counterbalance and reach trucks, ‘bendy’ articulated trucks for working in narrow aisles of racking but the three have never been interchangeable – until recently.

What if there was a truck which could travel sideways? What if it could carry the load over the drivers head? For the past couple of years such units have been available, by lifting the load above the drivers cab visibility is instantly improved. The big plus however would seem to be that the overall length of the truck is instantly reduced and, with the ability to drive sideways, negotiating narrow aisles becomes an instant possibility.

Take a look at this video from Swedish manufacturer Maxtruck and note the thorough way the manufacturer has explored every avenue to make the truck as useful as possible. The carriage locks on as a whole unit and is instantly interchangeable for another tool, such as a safety cage. The extending fork carriage can reach out to drop or lift and the sensory equipment shows the driver that the weight is safe at the chosen distance.

Working with a safety cage can be a one man operation with the driver able to guide all truck functions using a remote control unit. A 106 degree tilt facility makes the truck able to work with a suitable ‘shovel’ for moving loose items such as aggregate or sand and AC permanent magnet motors ensure power efficiency is maximised, whilst battery lasts a minimum of 8 hours and can be easily exchanged for a replacement, even after a single shift if required to enhance battery life.