Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Lift trucks: Using tuggers and carts effectively

In the right application, tuggers and carts can be a fast and efficient solution.
October 18, 2010

Football season is underway, and fans are hoping for breakout performances from stars and rookies alike. On the gridiron, an overpowered player can be a distinct advantage. In the warehouse, however, too much power can lead to waste, danger and sluggish performance. For some corporations, this fact has prompted consider- ation of fork-free environments, where versatile and custom-built carts and tuggers can do the work faster and more efficiently than their bigger cousins.

Disposing of expensive and powerful equipment in favor of carts may seem counter-intuitive, but Jill Burrow, marketing manager for Topper Industrial, said certain warehouses might benefit greatly from the switch. For operations requiring multiple trips between the same areas, carts can cut travel time significantly. According to Ed Brown, president of Topper Industrial, a tugger can pull as many as 13 carts. In addition, said Brown, carts and tuggers can be easier to use than many forklifts.

“A forklift costs five times as much, but a forklift operator also costs five times more than a tugger operator,” said Brown. “Anyone can grab a tugger and go.”

Once a forklift drops off a pallet, in many cases a picker must bend to access product or arrange for the pallet to be lifted. Carts, on the other hand, can be configured with swiveling or angled platforms to allow pickers fast and comfortable access to products. Worker safety issues tied to forklifts that operate in tight areas, such as poor visibility when driving in reverse and dock mishaps, can also be greatly reduced.

“Companies looking at carts are looking at the cost of equipment and the cost of maintenance, but they’re also looking at safety,” said Brown.

In addition to ergonomics and safety, a fork-free zone might help a warehouse reduce product loss and equipment damage. Carts provide a secure cradle for moving product, while some fork-borne loads are prone to toppling. And forklifts, often 10 times as heavy as a tugger and cart setup, have a way of proving their strength by leaving dings and dents on storage racks and other hapless stationary objects.

With carts and tuggers, Brown said most companies see a return on investment within a year. In football, a first-round draft pick can cost millions over a multi-year contract before he produces the desired results. For companies not looking to attempt such a Hail Mary, tuggers could prove an efficient alternative.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Despite advances in process automation, vital business processes consisting of data-driven tasks such as collecting, reviewing, and inputting information still exist in most organizations. These tasks are mundane, repetitive and... okay, boring.

Pressure-senstitive labeling machinery company expands Accraply's products and markets.

The new tire handling systems group will offer a variety of services including design engineering, project management, site supervision, controls, software, automated storage and retrieval, and custom manufacturing solutions specific to the tire industry.

New facility to house more than 300 engineers, project managers, sales, customer service and administrative staff.

Material handling parts distributor acquires Mid-Atlantic industrial safety distributor.

About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.


© Copyright 2016 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA