There is a trend in the manual materials handling (MMH) industry to utilize towable industrial carts rather than fork trucks as a solution for moving materials within a facility. Let’s examine the advantages of towable carts for moving materials in some industrial environments.
Better visibility and improved ergonomics
When a forklift operator moves a load of materials, they are seated behind that load, at times making it harder to see where they are going. Operators of the tugger or automated guide vehicle (AGV) systems that move trains of multiple towable carts are either sitting or standing on the tugger with the carts behind them, explained Amy Blueter, vice president of operations at MHI member K Tec LLC. This means they can see their route around the facility more clearly.
The carts are hooked together by using a towbar and hitch that can be quickly connected and disconnected. With a mother-daughter system, the mother carts stay connected all the time and the daughter carts slide into or out of the mother carts easily. “Carts can be painted in high visibility colors so they are easily spotted throughout the facility,” she noted. “Carts are also designed to be disconnected and moved around manually within ergonomic guidelines of push-pull forces.”
“While fork trucks can be susceptible to accidents due to speed, user error and tipping, tuggers or AGVs are only able to move at a slow speed around a designated route,” Ed Brown, founder and CEO of MHI member Topper pointed out. “Knowledge of the traffic pattern is easier to communicate to workers. There is no risk of speed or tipping.” Fork truck/container operations usually have a bigger footprint and are heavier than a tugger or loaded cart.
By Jean Feingold