Lift trucks: Using tuggers and carts effectively

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

By ·

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.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior 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.

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!

Latest Whitepaper
Download: Material Handling Technology Survey Results
Readers are buying and replacing warehousing and distribution center software, but not before they do their own homework.
Download Today!
From the July 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
Shuttle and case dispensing technologies help Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits keep up with demand in one of the most competitive markets in the country.
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits: Designed to Last
Automation: What’s at the heart of your system?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Warehouse Execution Systems (WES): The Pathway to Same-Day Fulfillment
This webinar explores the processes and technologies enabling same-day, same-hour order fulfillment using intelligent supply chain software.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits: Designed to Last
On Long Island, the country’s premier distributor of wine and spirits turned to shuttle and case...
GE Healthcare System Report: Lean repairs
Self-driving mobile robots improve cycle times and reduce floor space at GE Healthcare’s new...

Materials Handling Innovation (and why it matters)
Every company considers itself an innovator. It’s time to include materials handling leaders in...
Thrive Market’s Startup Distribution Network
How does a fastgrowing, e-commerce startup company build out order fulfillment capabilities? Thrive...