Now Here’s a Really Cool Forklift Accessory

Apple iPadA Minnesota materials handling firm has equipped its forklift fleet with what could be the coolest forklift accessory ever … Apple iPads.

AK Material Handling Systems, of Maple Grove, Minnesota, which specializes in creating customized organizational structures for warehouses, recently added the iPads to its entire forklift fleet.

No, they aren’t for streaming movies, reading eBooks, playing with “Words with Friends” or using other apps. The iPads are used to integrate the ordering and inventory system so customer and employees can constantly stay in the loop on the status of orders.

Tablets Used to Streamline Operations

Jason Kasanezky, the company’s spokesman, said the tablet devices have simplified communications and made tracking products easier and more efficient.

“Everything’s done electronically,” Kasanezky recently told Minnesota Business magazine. “When customers place an order, we put it in our system and it immediately goes back to the iPads in the warehouse. We’re on a live system. As I’m putting an order through in the office, our guys out on the iPad are checking the items off as they pull them, and I can say, ‘Okay, they just pulled the 10-foot beams.'”

AK Materials Handling CEO Al Boston said the iPads have his company was the only materials handling firm using the devices as forklift accessories, as far as he knew.

“There are much bigger service-oriented companies who use intranet call-based packages for things like forklift maintenance, but even they are amazed when they see what we can do with these products.”

The iPads contact customers when their orders are ready and can help them track their products through the delivery system. They also can be used by warehouse employees to report damaged freight right from their forklifts and send text messages to supervisors to ask how they should proceed.

Worth the Investment

Even though iPads aren’t cheap, Boston said the investment was nominal compared to the benefits they provide in terms of improved efficiencies and time savings.

“For an iPad, just round numbers, you’re talking $500 plus about $100 worth of add-ons because we plug them right into our forklifts to keep them constantly charged,” Boston said. “If you were to bring in a computer that any other technician would use, you’re typically talking about $3,500 by the time you’re done.”

Boston estimated the company already has saved between $60,000 to $80,000 as a result of using the iPads.

Increased the “Cool Quotient”

The tablets also improve the company’s “cool quotient”, said Kasanezky.

“When our customers experience our system — from the paperwork being emailed directly to them automatically — they are wowed by the experience,” he said. “They continue to come back because they know how easy it is.”




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