Raymond jumps into the automatic vehicle game

New vehicle will fill the gap between complete automation and a traditional lift truck

By ·

A lot of the buzz at this year’s ProMat was around the introduction of new automatic guided vehicles by traditional materials handling vendors manufactured by lift truck partners.

Not to be left out, Raymond, announced last Friday that they are developing an automatic guided lift truck that will use vision guided technology from Seegrid. The technology will first be available on a standard Raymond Class 3 lift truck or tow vehicle that can operate with or without a driver.

According to Frank Devlin, Raymond’s marketing manager for advanced technologies, the vehicles will be manufactured at Raymond’s facility in Muscatine, Iowa, and should be available early in 2012. Devlin added that the partnership with Seegrid will be exclusive to Raymond, at least initially.

Devlin told me Raymond’s motivation is simple: customers are interested in automation. “I did a lot of the market research for this, and what I found is that our customers are interested in AGVs,” Devlin said. “But they also want a vehicle that can be easily serviced. We think there’s an opportunity for a production vehicle that can be maintained by our network of dealers.”

While AGVs are most common in manufacturing, Raymond is banking on large distribution centers as the market for this new hybrid vehicle. Traditional AGVs have been a hard sell in distribution in part because they work in environments with predictable paths. A lift truck in a distribution center, on the other hand, may end up almost anywhere in the facility. That’s a plus for Seegrid’s guidance system, which uses cameras to navigate around the facility. “You can train the vehicle on a new path in an hour or two,” says Devlin.

One of the things I find interesting in this emerging space is the different approaches providers are taking to this problem. The Raymond vehicle can operate as both a lift truck and an AGV. But Raymond is also taking a conservative, cost-effective approach, at least initially. The vehicle won’t integrate with a warehouse management or ERP system. That means an operator will tell it where to go, based on preprogrammed routes. In addition, an operator will still board the truck to pick up a pallet. The vehicle will be able to automatically drop a load without a driver interface, but it wouldn’t be able to automatically put a load away into a pallet rack. For that reason, Devlin imagines it as “horizontal transportation,” say delivering a pallet from the receiving area to various drop off points in a storage area.

“This will not be as sophisticated as an AGV,” he said. “But, it will not be as complicated to maintain as an AGV and it will not be as expensive. We view it as flexible automation.”

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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!

Article Topics

Automation · Lift Trucks · Raymond · Seegrid · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Hydrogen, the Future of Materials Handling
Large, successful organizations are integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into their lift truck fleets and benefiting from lower operational costs, reduced emissions and improved reliability.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order fulfillment process and increased throughput with near 100% accuracy.
System Report: Brownells new DC is flexible and responsive
Pallet Usage Report: Pallets Remain Critical in the Modern-Day Warehouse
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Pallets: Supporting Product, Processes and the Enterprise
The smallest leak in performance or cost can bring a lean, nimble and speedy supply chain to a halt. During this 30-minute webcast we'll examine how Modern's readers use pallets to keep the wheels turning as they maneuver a road filled with sharp edges and potholes.
Register Today!
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features more than 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...
Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...

Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...
American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...