Companies and their facilities are continuously looking to get lean while meeting the increasing expectations of consumers for mass customization of their products. As a result of these challenges, the resulting solution for some companies has been the implementation of a designed lean material flow system. One of the most effective and cost saving alternatives, is to implement a tugger and trailer system. By doing this a facility is able to reduce their current fleet of fork trucks.
Today, tuggers and trailers have evolved to the point where they can be engineered and customized to support some, or all, of a facility’s handling needs. Both manned and unmanned tuggers work with powered and non-powered carts with a limitless range of configurations. Their features and flexibility allow these systems to increase production which was previously only handled by fork trucks. Forklifts are limited to the perimeter of a facility. Usually seen in the shipping and receiving area, and for inventory placement into and out of racks.
In manufacturing, tugger and industrial trailer systems replace the forklifts (one-load-at-a-time deliveries) to the production floor by acting as trains, or a linked series of multiple trailers, carrying multiple loads in one trip. The trailers themselves may be loaded by a fork truck, but a tugger handles the deliveries. Unlike a fork truck, a tugger driven operator has greater visibility because the loads trail behind instead of riding on elevated forks in front of the driver.
Point of Use Deliveries to the Line
Delivering smaller lots more frequently in kitted and sequenced cart orders is a response to the complexity of mass customization. Building multiple product lines on the same production floor or offering a selection of options to customize a standard product, require the flexibility that carts can provide. The carts have evolved into specialized tools used in engineered processes to move materials as efficiently as well the line workers can work right off the cart once it is delivered to the appropriate area. By doing this, it minimizes bending, stretching, reaching and strains as much as possible, customized
carts account for multiple of ergonomic factors. This is why the flexibility of cart-based systems can make more sense from a return-on-investment perspective.
Tugger Pull Capacities
Tuggers pull capacity can handle anywhere from 2,000 lbs. to 200,000 lbs. depending on the application of the client including the load and the trailers, when hauling across a flat surface. While, in principle, the number of trailers pulled behind a tugger is limitless, the actual number of trailers that can be towed is dependent on the aisle width of the facility. Today’s plants are shrinking because a company is expanding in turn having to use up more floor
space where the aisle widths decrease.
To combat the decreased aisle width, four-wheel steer trailers have been engineered so when the front wheels turn, the back wheels do as well. This design minimizes the radius issue, keeping all the carts more in-line with the tugger when it turns.