By Michael Field CEO, The Raymond Corp.
To stay competitive in today’s e-commerce environment, material handling manufacturers must address customer challenges in the supply chain and logistics industry with smart, leading-edge technology that can maximize performance and keep customers always on.
At MODEX 2018, we heard that customers want efficient, effective and innovative solutions tailored to meet their individual plant needs. Driving most of these demands are the challenges plant managers face while trying to find skilled labor (64 percent) and pressures to meet faster response times (73 percent).1
To address these industry issues, product innovations and new technologies are beginning to change the way facilities operate. Below are some of the key innovations we saw at MODEX that are transforming today’s manufacturing supply chain.
- Automated guided vehicles (AGV) — As customers compete to meet e-commerce demands, fully automated self-driving vehicles can help with lane stacking, horizontal towing, and conveyor interfacing to increase efficiency and accuracy. Optimal for distribution centers of 200,000 square feet or more, these trucks are ideal for repetitive and time-consuming tasks — allowing plant managers to reallocate operators’ time to more value-added jobs. Additionally, semi-automated solutions can make production and distribution processes quicker while helping operators reach higher proficiency levels faster and making operations run more effectively.
- High-capacity reach trucks — As customers continue to build up rather than out, high-capacity reach trucks help businesses optimize space use in their buildings and store heavy pallets in almost any location. Trucks that allow for increasingly heavy loads and now reach higher than ever before offer pallet storage from eight to 10 levels, creating 25% more storage space in warehouses.
- Trucks with integrated intelligence — Fully integrated trucks, which are designed to enhance the operator experience and increase warehouse productivity, display data such as truck speed and battery state-of-charge. Optional technologies on some integrated trucks include fault codes and diagnostic information to aid in troubleshooting.
- Lithium-ion-battery-powered trucks — To address operators’ needs to move more pallets, run longer, and recharge faster, lithium-ion-battery trucks keep operators powered for the long haul. Lasting longer than traditional batteries and requiring less maintenance, double-power-capacity trucks help reduce a plant’s overall cost of ownership while keeping operations efficient.
- Pallet jacks with a LED light system — Put-to-light technology helps eliminate or reduce picking errors by visually reinforcing product placement for order fulfillment in batch picking applications. When integrated into a pallet truck, this innovation helps maximize operator productivity by directing operators where to place the product through colored light clues and voice technology.
- Pallet trucks with mobile weigh scales — Helping operators quickly verify inbound and outbound freight, pallet trucks with mobile weigh scales can improve order picking accuracy and measure bulk materials for distribution faster. This weigh-scale feature can save time and money on every load.
These products are helping revolutionize today’s supply chain and keeping customers running better and managing smarter. As the labor gap widens and in a world that wants things now, these innovations will continue to be instrumental in shaping the way plant facilities operate and stay competitive.
1The 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Innovation, Deloitte and MHI; https://www.mhi.org/publications/report.