Tugger boosts productivity while reducing risk

Facility uses technology to reduce back injuries and speed up processing.

By ·

Tired of a manual application that exposed employees to exhaustion and injury, one meat packing facility used a series of customized, battery-powered tuggers to boost productivity while keeping workers safe.

In the Aurora Packing facility in northern Illinois, sides and quarters of high-quality beef are hung on hooks and moved by ceiling-mounted rails to the various processing stations. Beef halves weigh between 350 and 450 pounds, and beef quarters weigh between 200 and 250 pounds. Moving three quarters or two sides is about the maximum one individual can push at time. Because of this limitation, it doesn’t take a lot of time before production can get bottle-necked.

“We typically rotated workers out from the rail line every two hours to give them a break,” says Tim Sonne, plant engineer for Aurora Packing. “This was not especially efficient.”

The new tuggers help the company maintain compliance with OSHA’s voluntary protection programs (VPP), OSHA’s official program for recognizing the outstanding efforts of companies that have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health standards. Using a tug with stainless steel pusher attachments and some counterweights, Sonne says that one employee now moves the rails of beef sides all day long “without breaking a sweat.”

To the immediate approval of its employees, Aurora Packing bought its first tug in December of 2009. Depending on the push/pull requirements in each department, attachments and options can be used to optimize performance of the base unit while retaining the interchangeability of tires, wheels and batteries. The company no longer needs to rotate personnel every two hours.

NuStar, Power Pusher Division

Read more from the 2013 Casebook.

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.

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
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!
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...
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive...