driverless forklifts, autonomous forklifts or robotic forklifts,
Automated forklifts can reduce product damage and reduce the WHS risks of repetitive, physically demanding tasks.
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Automated forklifts (including AGV forklifts and AMR forklifts) also known as driverless forklifts, autonomous forklifts or robotic forklifts.
Automated forklifts have been around for many years and are beginning to make significant headway in warehouse and distribution centres operations.
They are industrial trucks that with forks that can do some or all of the following: lift, lower, transport, put away, &/or retrieve loads, either in fully automated mode, without a human operator, or in semi-automated mode, with a human operator working alongside them. These forklifts are a type of automated guided vehicle (AGV), but that term is more commonly used to describe conveyances that typically (but not always) lack forks and only provide horizontal transportation.
Interest in automated forklifts is growing fast, partly due to labour shortages, but also due to huge cost saving potential, continuous, consistent performance 24×7. It can also mitigate the cost of finding and onboarding new workers. Additionally, adding capacity does not require adding operators. Flexibility, scalability, and reliability are also key factors. They are easily scalable up or down; if you want to add more trucks, you simply add them to the already configured system.
Automated forklifts can reduce product damage and reduce the WHS risks of repetitive, physically demanding tasks. Automated forklifts can locate specified storage slots and retrieve or put away loads with millimetre accuracy, they can stop and alert humans when they encounter obstacles or anything else unexpected, choose the most efficient travel path, and remember where empty slots are located, among other capabilities.
Optionally, software controls task allocation and the robotic forklift fleet’s movements. The software typically interacts with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) and may also interact you are your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and with other material handling equipment. Some forklift OEMs have developed their own navigation and control systems, while others partner with specialized tech companies.
Increasingly robotic lift trucks operate without following fixed paths defined by guide wires, magnetic tape, magnets, or transponders embedded in the floor. Newer guidance technologies include methods such as lasers, image recognition, and location sensors that measure distances, map facilities, store data, and navigate based on the forklift’s position relative to “natural features”—walls, racks, and other objects. Depending on the technology, minimal or no additional infrastructure is required, so it is easy to reprogram travel routes.
Wider availability and declining costs of sophisticated sensors have reduced costs for the end-user.
Currently, fully, or semi-automated counterbalanced forklifts, narrow-aisle forklifts, high-reach trucks, and high- and low-platform pallet trucks are available. While automated forklifts can be programmed to do many tasks.
The simplest tasks to automate are: basic horizontal transports, with or without loads, between specified points, with no other action required. Also pallet picking and putaway. Order picking is possible but generally more challenging at this stage.
A major focus is automation of receiving and replenishment, which largely involve routine processes and thus are well suited to automation.
ROIs of one to three years or even less are achievable, with hours of operation and volume of repetitive movements being key factors.
Quantum Robotics has multiple ranges of automated forklifts to suit various environments and needs. After a brief phone consultation, we can generally know if a good ROI is likely and if so, arrange a brief onsite initial visit to your facility to gather data and more accurately estimate ROI’s and potential issues etc. From there we can determine the best way forwards for your automated forklift future.
Options can include: Automated Pallet Jacks, Automated Walkie Stackers, Automated Walkie Reach Stackers, Automated Stock Pickers. Automated Reach Trucks and Automated Counterbalance Forklifts.
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