Businesses are constantly being challenged in terms of quality, efficiency and safety, especially with e-commerce and online orders becoming a natural part of the customer buying behaviour. Efficiency projects are usually related to increasing output, which leads to moving more products and material around. This can have impact on overall production flow, picking routines or even airport cargo logistics. And it may require your company to rethink your material handling operation in order to reach this increased throughput while also maintaining safety. One solution could be to go “forkless”: moving materials via load carriers with wheels pulled by a vehicle. Let’s see if forkless is the way for you with these 6 questions you can ask yourself to find out if a tow truck could improve efficiency in your operation.
You handle items instead of pallets?
In manufacturing, where lean just-in-time thinking calls for exactly the right components to be assembled at a given point in the production process to match order throughput, item handling is necessary to avoid excessive material throughout the process. But also in the e-commerce business, where single items are selected for end customers and sorted during the picking round, efficient solutions to move products are needed.
Towing solutions are a good alternative to traditional forklifts to handle single items. They are safe, easy to manoeuvre and perfect to transport pallets and pick single items.
You need to move multiple loads at the same time?
A tow tractor with a train of trailers means you get great flexibility in the type of goods you can transport. There’s a large variety of load carriers which you can pick and choose from to put together a tow train. This way you can handle different load sizes, load from one or both sides, move goods via pallets... for efficient use of manpower and tasks with maximum added value.
You pursue lean production?
The idea behind forklift-free handling is replenishing material as it is used, rather than keeping excess material on the production floor. Tow tractors can be used for ‘milk runs’, a continual route tow tractors follow around the factory with stops at designated points, either dropping off or collecting trailers.
Tow tractors support an efficient flow; fewer people are needed to move the same amount of goods, less equipment on the floor leads to more safety and less incidents, a lower risk for bottlenecks, more flexibility… all resulting in a leaner way of working.
Your customers expect high flexibility in growing e-commerce?
With the growing e-commerce businesses, customers expect very fast delivery times. Therefore single-piece or multi-order picking should be quick and easy. Dedicated tractor and trolley solutions with adjustable compartments for cases or loose items make it easier to sort orders while picking. The tow tractors can also be used for stock replenishment as they provide the flexibility to transport quantities of large and/or small items stock to various locations.
You have safety and operator comfort high on your priority list?
In a forklift-free operation, operators have an unobstructed view from the tow tractor seat without compromised visibility because of the mast, for example. Tractors tow the load carriers behind them and only move forward, as opposed to lift trucks, which often need to back up, limiting visibility in the process.
Especially in busy areas, such as airports, visibility and safety are of high importance. In addition, sit-in tow tractors offer the operators a comfortable work space during the long-distance drive in all weather conditions.
Going from forklifts to a forklift-free facility is quite a change. That’s why it’s important to educate your employees to understand how they will be moving materials and interacting with tow tractors.
You are considering automation in your warehouse?
Automation optimises the flow of goods while minimising damage, time and cost. Workers become available to handle more complex tasks instead of repetitive processes.
Automated tow tractors can take over repetitive transport and deliver the goods precisely and safely to the designated station.
Can a forkless approach work for your business?
If you work in any of these business areas tow tractors may be the right solution for you. Maybe not completely, but parts of your operation may benefit from it.
- order picking
- or do you just have to move things?