In efforts to streamline operations and gain efficiencies to meet ever increasing customer demands, companies are often looking for solutions to make warehousing and material flow leaner. For a very long time, fork lifts were the primary solution to material handling, becoming a standard piece of machinery in any warehouse that can still be found. However, fork lifts have limited capabilities in how they allow workers to move material and don’t allow companies to take advantage of different lean material handling solutions that can be customized to virtually any application.
Industrial tuggers and tugger carts have quickly become popular in the lean warehousing industry due to their flexibility in configurations, ease of use, and wide applicability across different material handling functions. From material delivery, stock picking, load movement and more, tugger trains can bring efficiency to several processes and tasks.
Tuggers vs. Forklift – Comparisons
Tuggers provide a variety of advantages over the traditional forklift vehicle in warehousing applications. Read the following for key points of comparison between the two material handling equipment options:
Ability to carry multiple loads
Tuggers can carry multiple loads at once with a train of warehouse trailers or ergonomic carts, whereas forklifts can only carry one load at a time. This can vastly improve efficiency, cut travel time, and help you move more materials through your facility without having to vastly expand your fleet of equipment.
Safety in operation
Tuggers are more safe to operate and maneuver, as the load is pulled behind the field of vision. Forklifts often carry the load in the front of the machine, which is right in the way of the operator’s field of vision.
Cost of Equipment and Operation
Tuggers can be more economical than forklifts, both in the cost of the actual equipment and in the cost of operators. A typical forklift can cost almost five times more than a standard tugger vehicle and experienced forklift operators can not only be difficult to hire, but also come with a higher cost. Tuggers drive very much like a golf cart, making them easy for employees to grab and go without special training or certification.
Ease of maneuverability around warehouse
With a forklift, you are often limited to only being able to operate the machine on the perimeter of your warehouse and racking. This creates constraints on your routes, material handling flow, and how you can organize your inventory. With tuggers, you have more flexibility in how you can arrange your racking and routes and even when towing carts, turn radius is tighter to allow the train to go in between aisles. Special trailers, such as quad steer trailers, help maintain tight turn radius by allowing both the front wheels and back wheels to turn.
Ease of adaptability
With tuggers, you can easily and quickly change the configuration of your carts or trailers when needed. Trains can be made shorter or longer and towable carts can easily be swapped. This benefit allows industrial tuggers to remain useful even when your warehouse layout needs to change – something that is not as easily done with forklifts or even conveyor systems.
Minimized product loss or damage
Because of their move secure cradles and decks, tuggers are better at securing loads and keeping them in tact during delivery. Forklifts pose a threat in product toppling or falling from a raised fork and also have the potential of dinging or damaging materials if not loaded properly or if the fork isn’t lined up right.
Forklifts most often require fuel that is burned off within your warehouse, creating an environmental hazard in your warehouse. Electric tow tractors are electric powered tugger vehicles that reduce harmful emissions and create a better environment for workers.
Improved ergonomics to removing and placing material on cart
With forklifts, loads have to be put together and unloaded off of the fork to prevent injury. Depending on the load, this manual task can require a lot of bending and lifting, causing strain on the back and health of the worker. With a tugger train, work carts can simply be removed from the train and then manually pushed or pulled by workers, creating a mobile work cart that is more ergonomic and efficient.
Tuggers and carts a better option in lean warehousing
Overall, tuggers and towable carts are revolutionizing how companies approach material handling while providing a lot of real benefits over traditional equipment. For many companies that make the transition to tugger train systems, the savings pay for themselves in as little as a year! If you are consideration making the switch, make sure to contact the experts at Material Handling Specialists, who can customize a tugger train solution for you!