Ergonomics done right.®
April 3rd, 2014

The Future of Forklifts in the Warehouse

by Matt Gilliam, AEP

One of the mainstays of human-operated equipment, the forklift, is getting a technology makeover. With a shift toward more automated and advanced warehouse management, it is time for the forklift to get in on the movement. The automated intelligent forklift can be programmed to pick specific pallets and deliver them faster and safer than human-operated forklifts. RFID tags can be placed in high traffic areas signaling the forklift to slow down and not to exceed a set speed.

Forklift automation will help eliminate several ergonomic risk factors such as awkward neck and back postures, extended IntelligentForkliftreaches to the control levers, and climbing up and down the forklift itself throughout the warehouse. The automated forklift can help in manual material handling as well. For mixed-pallet picking, the automated forklift will pull the pallet from shelving and bring it down into the optimal manual material handling zone for the operator to then transfer products, thereby eliminating the need for operators to pick products from the ground or above the shoulders. Additionally, automated forklifts are outfitted with a real-time location system that eliminates the need for frequent manual scanning of the load.

As the warehouse industry continues to leverage technology and integrate intelligence, we are on the cusp of seeing these new-age forklifts in big warehouse operations. For more information on automated forklifts, check out this Forbes article or this vendor website.