Forklifts on ‘tracks’ in the warehouse

Forklifts on ‘tracks’ in the warehouse

YOU’VE HEARD of trains and trolleys on tracks, but how about forklifts on tracks? It’s a fairly new phenomenon in warehousing and, like many new things in business, the technology is designed to create efficiencies.

When used with specially designed forklifts, warehouse “tracks” aren’t on the floor and can’t be seen. Instead they’re embedded as electronic wiring within the concrete floor. The wires can guide the forklift: where to go, how fast to go, and even when to stop. While a conventional forklift uses pathways up to 12 feet wide, a wire-guided forklift can operate on a route only five feet wide. This gives a warehouse operator additional floor space to store and stack pallets full of goods.

Wire-guided forklifts still have human operators, but instead of steering, accelerating, and slowing the forklift, the operator rides along in a turret and has the primary task to raise, lower, load, and unload the product. In the event of a malfunction or an out-of-control forklift, the operator retains the ability to override the automation and safely brake and maneuver the unit. Wire-guided forklifts will be put to use here at Adams Cold Storage in Auburndale when we go online with our new 2.5 million-cubic-foot warehouse. Each forklift can carry loads up to 2,500 pounds and lift products 45 feet off the warehouse floor.

In contrast with conventional forklifts, wire-guided units come with very sophisticated electronics. Those put to use in refrigerated warehousing require special “freezer packages” that provide a very high degree of insulation and waterproofing to protect the sensitive circuitry.

These special forklifts for refrigerated warehousing are expensive. Research shows that over time, these marvels help to return a significant savings in costs associated with real estate, construction, utilities, labor, forklift runtime, and maintenance.

This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage LLC.

CREDIT

column by BEN ADAMS, JR.

BIO: Ben Adams, Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.