Benefits of tow tractors: the case for forkless material handling

Picture of Per Franzén

Per Franzén

10 minutes to read


Material handling usually implies loads being moved on conventional pallets by forklift trucks. However, forkless solutions such as tow tractors can apply to an even wider range of applications. 

Let us start with explaining what a tow tractor is. These vehicles can pull one or more load carriers and provide the ideal horizontal transportation solution for delivering materials, such as pallets or items, throughout a facility. They offer an efficient way to move many goods at the same time.

Now take a look at what they can bring to your material handling operation.

Efficient and lean movement of goods

Based on the proven Toyota Production System, Toyota Material Handling applies its lean approach principles to logistic processes, with the same goals – elimination of waste, maximum added value and total quality. With this lean thinking everything is moved just in time, generating a smooth workflow. Tow tractors are perfect for this, transporting multiple loads in a train of carriers from station to station. Automated towing is then the next step in lean transportation, offering higher productivity with less waste and a more sustainable way of material handling.

 Toyota tow tractor in manufacturing site


The right match for increased flexibility

The choice of tow trucks and load carriers is very wide, allowing you to find the combination that suits your needs and goals best.

Typical use and applications:

  • Tow trains can move palletised and non-palletised goods – a great solution for order picking and item handling
  • With a load capacity ranging from 1 to 50 tonnes on a 3- and 4-wheeled chassis with rider-seated, stand-in and pedestrian models, both for indoor and outdoor use, tow tractors are a great solution for all your horizontal load movements in any application.
  • Pedestrian tractors from the Toyota Tracto W-series are developed for pulling roll cages and trailers up to 2 tonnes to replace manual handling and improve ergonomics for the operator.
  • The stand-in tractors in the N- and S-series (1 to 5 tonnes) can be used in a variety of applications such as towing and order picking for e-commerce and online orders, as well as Simai tow tractor for a wide range of applicationsfor towing in light- to medium-duty industries and logistics applications.
  • The rider-seated Simai tractors (3 to 50 tonnes) can be used in a very wide range of applications. The smaller to medium ones mainly in industries and logistics applications, while the larger ones are ideal for cargo and luggage handling at airports and for heavy-duty industries. The R-series also includes platform tractors.



This portal carrier allows to tow a variety of goods.

A safe way of transportation

Tow tractors pull the goods, whether these are pallets or items. No need for forks to carry material, making this safer for people in the workplace and creating less risk to damage any goods or infrastructure. By having the possibility to tow a train of goods, there will also be less traffic in the warehouse or production area, increasing safety further.


Less movements, less cost

Tow vehicles can move multiple loads at the same time, meaning less operators and equipment are needed. This cost benefit combined with the savings you can make thanks to less damage, make a strong point for this forkless solution.



Supports shift to electric

Consisting of only electric-powered vehicles, tow tractors are clean solutions that can help you move any load to the right place in the right time. Equipped with lead-acid or Li-ion batteries, with the right tow solution you’ll get the power and speed you need.


Intuitive drive

Easy to get on and off, all models are easy to operate. The larger tow tractors feel quite similar to driving a car. Comfortable seating position, good all-round view, intuitive controls, and closed cabin option when needed, the tow range will offer you high comfort in any working condition.

Thanks to our long and proven experience in lean manufacturing, we know Toyota towing solutions can make a difference in how materials are handled. Benefits such as reduced human effort, increased safety and saving time and money are strong arguments to consider forkless material handling.






Popular posts