Applications for electric lift trucks in manufacturing
April 10, 2003
Manufacturers face relentless challenges in their efforts to meet changing demand. In their materials handling operation, these challenges include moving materials in tight spaces, providing just-in-time (JIT) delivery to production areas, and ensuring that lift trucks are available when and where they are needed. Maintaining production efficiency requires sturdy, dependable lift trucks that are maneuverable, easy to operate, and easy to maintain.
Using electric lift trucks in the confines of a manufacturing facility eliminates the byproducts of combustion, resulting in better indoor air and noise quality. A range of electric lift trucks is available for manufacturing environments, including sideloaders, multidirectional trucks, reach trucks, counterbalance trucks, order picker trucks, turret trucks, electric pallet trucks, and pallet jacks.
Sideloaders (see Figure 1) excel at transporting long, bulky materials such as barstock, tubing, laminates, and plywood sheets in very narrow aisles. These trucks feature multidirectional travel, heavy-duty capacities, and stacking capabilities—from 2,000 to 10,000 pounds up to 30 feet high.
Their very-narrow-aisle (VNA) maneuverability means that sideloaders can improve space utilization by as much as 100 percent or more. Because sideloaders are versatile, they are suited to rack storage, feeding machine tools, and order picking.
Sideloaders excel at transporting long, bulky materials such as barstock and tubing and feature multidirectional travel, heavy-duty capacities, and stacking capabilities.
Multidirectional trucks combine a pantograph reach mechanism with multidirectional travel to handle long, bulky loads in narrow aisles. Unlike typical counterbalance trucks, the multidirectional truck's unique travel mode eliminates the need to make right-angle turns. This enables the truck to travel sideways down storage aisles, improving storage density by up to 40 percent while retrieving long loads faster and easier.
Reach trucks are well-suited for moving pallet loads between rack storage and manufacturing areas and for replenishing rack storage (see Figure 2). Reach trucks require an aisle of less than 8 ft., which increases storage density and helps maximize floor space for manufacturing operations. With hundreds of combinations of heights, capacities, and features, they can meet many stockroom and warehouse equipment needs.
Reach trucks are well-suited for moving pallet loads between rack storage and manufacturing areas and for replenishing rack storage. They require an aisle of less than 8 ft., which increases storage density and helps maximize floor space for manufacturing operations.
Some lift trucks are designed for reaching two-pallet-deep areas. These trucks are essentially reach trucks with an extended pantograph mechanism for use with double-deep storage racks. Double-deep storage further reduces the number of storage aisles.
With 3,000- to 6,000-lb. capacities, counterbalance trucks work well for dock, cross-dock, and dock-to-stock applications. When an operator is required to get on and off the lift truck repeatedly, a stand-up counterbalance truck can help reduce fatigue.
In narrow aisles in which right-angle stacking turns need to be performed in small areas, a stand-up truck is best-suited for the job. For truck loading and unloading and long runs through the warehouse, a sit-down counterbalance truck is a better choice. Most counterbalance trucks accept many attachments to meet all types of special handling requirements.
When piece picking from a stockroom or other storage area, order picker trucks allow operators to rise with the load and pick directly from the racks or bins.
When piece picking from a stockroom or other storage area, an order picker truck allows the operator to rise with the load and pick directly from the racks or bins (see Figure 3). Many models, lift heights, and performance packages are available to meet all types of order picking requirements, from high-level VNA order picking to floor-level order picking and almost everything in between.
Special attachments such as platforms and carts make order picker trucks suited for steel and furniture applications. With wire guidance or rail guidance systems, order picker trucks comfortably maneuver awkward loads in narrow and very narrow aisles.
Turret trucks operate in very narrow aisles, working both sides of the aisle without turning around by rotating the forks on the mast 180 degrees.
For high-level pallet handling and piece picking versatility, a turret truck may fit the bill. Turret trucks operate in very narrow aisles, working both sides of the aisle without turning around by rotating the forks on the mast 180 degrees (see Figure 4). Because no right-angle stacking turns are required, the aisle can be as narrow as 5.5 ft., which can triple storage capacity.
With the addition of a wire guidance system, turret trucks can be steered automatically, allowing operators to concentrate on the next pick. An extended load handler offers turret truck users the capability to place, pick, and move a greater variety of load sizes. Loads up to 48 inches deep by 108 in. wide can be handled in aisles as narrow as 68 in.
For a variety of demanding transport and low-level order picking applications, electric pallet trucks offer maneuverability, durability, and low operating cost. Electric pallet trucks are available in pedestrian and rider models, depending on which best suits the application. They can maneuver in and out of confined workcell areas to drop off and pick up supplies, transport loads in dock areas, and help load and unload shipments.
Hand pallet jacks are maneuverable in spaces that are too small for an electric pallet truck and have a full 180-degree turning radius.
Hand pallet jacks are exceptionally maneuverable in spaces that are too small for an electric pallet truck (see Figure 5). A full 180-degree turning radius eases navigation, even in tight quarters.
When the proper lift truck equipment is used for each application in a manufacturing environment, the result can be a more efficient, productive, cost-effective operation. nJenifer Sopko is a marketing specialist with The Raymond Corporation, P.O. Box 130, Greene, NY 13778-0130, 607-656-2311, fax 607-656-9005, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.raymondcorp.com. The Raymond Corporation is a manufacturer of electric forklift equipment.