Thor, Zebedee, Rover and Homer have joined the team at plastic packaging company Berry Superfos as part of an upgrade of the Blackburn factory.
The four newcomers are Jungheinrich automated guided vehicles (AGVs), brought in to take over the tasks previously carried out by traditional forklifts.
Berry Superfos was looking for AGVs capable of lifting different sized pallets and placing them directly onto a stretch wrapper conveyor.
The equipment also had to be fast and nimble enough to reach some of the facility’s tighter areas.
Company executives settled on Jungheinrich after speaking to several competitors.
"We visited Jungheinrich's facility in Warrington, which has a simulated warehouse environment where we could see the AGVs moving around in person," says Neil Stout, Berry Superfos operations manager. "That sold it for us."
Berry Superfos settled on four units of the compact EKS 215a model and ran a staff competition to name them.
Thor, Zebedee, Rover and Homer can cope with the variations in pallets and also transfer goods between the shopfloor and the warehouse.
"The AGV didn't do that as standard, so we worked with Jungheinrich to write our own code to achieve that task," Stout says.
The reaction to the new equipment was positive.
"As soon as they saw them moving around, they saw the benefits,” says Stout. “They realised there was no longer any need to jack pallets to height and there was less walking time. They were proud to be a part of implementing this new technology."