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In today’s web-based economy, customers expect products to reach them faster, cheaper, and with fewer mistakes. Businesses will need to rely on technical innovations to meet these expectations if they hope to succeed — or even survive — according to an executive from one of the country’s biggest forklift companies.
Scott Andersen, general manager for technology business development at Crown Equipment Corporation, said forklift technology needs to improve if businesses hope to reduce costs, increase throughput speeds, and get better information to make more informed and anticipatory decisions faster.
Faster, More Efficient, and Better
“Forklift technology has made notable advancements, such as easily upgraded onboard software, and is currently being successfully applied to specific warehouse applications in order to meet today’s demands as well as to anticipate future needs,” Andersen said during an innovations conference held in Montreal earlier on Sept. 21. “Continued technology innovations coupled with other material handling technologies will enable forklift investments to dynamically respond to changing circumstances within warehouse and distribution environments without compromising initial investment costs.”
Andersen pointed to three innovative new technologies as examples of what Crown is offering businesses to prepare for increased future customer demands.
Tomorrow’s Innovations Today
Crown recently unveiled two new forklift solutions in the UK — the Auto Fence and Auto Positions systems — both of which use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to enhance safety and boost productivity.
The Auto Fence system controls forklifts when they operate near hazards or other areas where greater caution is required.
The Auto Positions system automates travel and lift functions, calculating the most efficient path between the forklift and its destinations.
Another innovative new technology is Crown’s QuickPick Remote order picking system. Essentially, it allows pickers to follow behind their self-driving forklift as they fill orders without having to manually move the vehicle forward themselves. Instead, the QuickPick Remote system responds to hand controls included on special gloves the picker wears, in conjunction with voice commands from a headset.
Crown claims the system can reduce forklifts’ on/off work motions by up to 70 percent. In side-by-side trials, workers making 100 picks per hour worked 14 percent faster than comparable workers using traditional forklift that needed to be moved forward manually.
It’s these kinds of innovations that will help businesses meet the increasingly demanding expectations of customers who in the very near future may have their orders delivered to them via pilotless drones within 30 minutes of placing them on their smartphones.