News service and business centre for materials handlingHOME
18568,18565 19522
Dilyan Alexiev: Will driverless forklifts improve productivity?

Wednesday, 13 Sep 2017 ( #838 )
Your Focus
Dilyan Alexiev is a director of Plant Handling Limited, specialist stockist and global exporter of second-hand forklifts.

Contribute to Your Focus

Will driverless forklifts improve productivity? There are arguments both for and against the viability of autonomous forklifts and other materials handling devices.
Benefits of driverless forklifts
Driverless forklifts, also known as Automated Guided Vehicles (AVGs), reduce the number of stops usually caused by human operators. They don't have the physical limitations of humans, nor the inclination to be lazy. Driverless forklifts can also be synchronised to keep up efficient traffic flow in a way that only automated systems can.

The increased productivity in areas of repetitive operation saves not only time but also money, as fewer goods are likely to be damaged during the tasks for which AGVs are most suited.

Flexibility and productivity of driverless forklifts
No human driver means less risk of death, injury or inventory loss. It also means no need for shift changeovers, lunch breaks or holidays. Driverless forklifts can run day and night, stopping only for refuelling or maintenance. So even though driverless forklifts can't cut corners like manned forklifts and operate more slowly, they can increase productivity thanks to continuous operation.

For warehouses operating in global markets, the site never sleeps. During busy seasonal periods, when overtime and double shifts are called for, tiredness leads to mistakes. When human effort becomes a liability, the potential of driverless forklifts really shines.

AGV in action courtesy of Egemin
Driverless forklifts and site safety
Accidents in the workplace cost money and, worse, can cost lives. Statistics indicate that forklift accidents cause at least one fatality every six weeks, giving forklift operators one of the most dangerous jobs in the UK.

As such, it stands to reason that separating humans and manual handling equipment reduces the potential for accidents, especially when you consider that driver error is the primary cause of forklift accidents.

In addition to preventing driver error, driverless forklifts allow for the unmanned lifting of extreme loads - a dangerous operation for any operator, or those nearby.

Disadvantages of driverless forklifts
There is still value in human operators in an automated warehouse. There are also manual operations that do not fit with the operation of driverless forklifts. To optimise your autonomous operations, you need to have a strict and clearly defined schedule. This improves your workflow and streamlines operations.

The downside to driverless forklifts is that they don't react well to ad hoc requests and sudden changes. The rigidity of efficiency comes at the cost of flexibility. Manual forklift trucks allow operators to change plans on the fly and reprioritise much faster than automated systems.

Human operators are far more capable of identifying issues in the immediate environment and any problems with picking orders. If an order, upon inspection, is clearly incorrect, an automated system won't know, as it's just looking at numbers, but a human operator can assess and make judgements on pick choices that a driverless forklift cannot.

For obstacle detection, the historical contact-sensitive mechanical bumpers as well as the traditional laser scanner used today both have limitations – some do not detect hanging objects that a human would see, so the technology still has a way to go.

At PHL, we recognise that driverless technology has the potential to improve warehouse efficiency, but the technology is not quite there yet. A bespoke combination of human and automated materials handling presents the benefits of both scenarios, with the flexibility to overcome the limitations.
Discuss News stories in the Discussion Forums!
separate border
Global News

Global News

UNITED KINGDOM Bobcat has extended its range with the addition of the ... [more]
GERMANY Manitou has unveiled several new products at the Agritechnica trade ... [more]
AUSTRALIA Fork Force Australia has officially opened its new headquarters in ... [more]

JCB helps engineer WW1 tank centenary tribute - Rocester, United Kingdom
KION supports relief efforts - Summerville, SC, United States
Yale MX series honoured - Greenville, NC, United States
JLT adds Nordic dealer - Växjö, Sweden [more]
SINGAPORE MacGregor has held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening ... [more]
JLG partners with Continental - McConnellsburg, PA, United States
TVH introduces dual-colour strobes - Olathe, KS, United States [more]
UNITED STATES Kalmar has signed a contract with a major North American ... [more]
TURKEY DP World, the global trade enabler, is upgrading two of ... [more]
GERMANY Wittenförden-based crane service provider Urban has taken delivery of a ... [more]
UNITED KINGDOM Narrow Aisle Ltd, manufacturer of the Flexi range of articulated ... [more]
  • 6485 Kalmar DRF450-65C5X, YEAR 2006, 45T Laden Reach Stacker, 5-High. View more
  • 6375 Terex CS45KM, YEAR 2011, 45T Laden Reach Stacker 5-High. View more
  • 6356 SMV 4542 TBX5, YEAR 2007, 45T Laden Reach Stacker 5-High. View more
  • 6573 SMV SL28 1200A, 28T Counter Balance Forklift, 3.5 m Lifting height. View more
  • 5910 Terex FDC25K7 ... [more]
Your Focus

Your Focus(Blog)

With surging automation and robotics technology advancing at a staggering ... [more]

Announcements (Ads)

PMH launches MaxTruck 2T USA campaign, and is looking for ... [more]
Load Lifter Mfg. recently hosted all of its Canadian Dealers ... [more]
RICO’s next generation of Explosion Proof lift trucks, AC-60 Phoenix ... [more]
IPO Lifts is a leading Bulgarian manufacturer of BIG heavy ... [more]
The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) is the only ... [more]
Next year’s feature dates and topics are now confirmed! Although the topics may be refined further we are excited to reveal that the following areas will be covered: 22nd February: Power Solutions - an update 31st May: Fleet and Stock Management 27th September: Forklift Manufacturing in Europe ... [more]

Subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter.
©2013 - All rights reserved
Forkliftaction Media Pty Ltd
PO Box 1439
Milton QLD 4064
About Forkliftaction
The Forkliftaction Team
Privacy Policy
Site Map
Business Directory
Discussion Forums
Industry News
Events Calendar
Jobs & Resumes
Photo Galleries
Blog articles
Our Bloggers

Industry Brands
Company Index
Regions & Countries

Advertise on Forkliftaction
Editorial Features / Calendar
Featured Businesses
Past News Editions
Industry Associations
Storing your login information automatically.

When you select the 'Remember me' option, your login information will be stored on your computer in the form of a cookie. When you visit again, the stored login information will be retrieved automatically and you will not have to submit your login parameters (email address and password) each time you want to visit our members-only pages.

A cookie is a small piece of data that is sent to your browser from a web server and stored on your computer's hard drive. A cookie can't read data off your hard disk or read cookie files created by other sites. Cookies do not damage your system.

 Back to Top