B&B Attachments debuted its first electronically operated attachment at IMHX 2019, with managing director Mike Barton describing the KAUP electric fork positioner T160BE as "of huge interest to the AGV side of the industry".
A PLC with CAN-Bus interface opens up new communication possibilities between the attachment and forklift truck, he said, allowing the forks to be controlled by the AGV while also sending data back to the truck.
B&B also showed off its keg solutions, with Barton boasting that his company has around 70% marketshare in the sector in the UK, supplying to the major brewers.
"The UK is the market leader for palletless handling of beer kegs and we have around 1,400 units in use in this country," he explained.
Also on show was a double pallet handler, one of many attachments capable of moving multiple pallets at a time.
Besides Kaup products, the stand also featured a number of B&B fork attachments originally distributed domestically, but increasingly aimed at the export market. The products cater to the brick and block market, which Barton described as bespoke and specialised.
According to Barton, the company's presence at IMHX was its biggest to date, resulting in "an absolutely brilliant exhibition". "When we look at the level of inquiries, both the quantity and the quality were there, especially from end-users."
While Barton was enthusiastic about IMHX, Kaup managing director Holger Kaup was less optimistic about materials handling trade shows in general. "A lot of companies are doing their own thing, like Linde with World of Material Handling, and once the big players don't appear at these shows, it's not so attractive any more," he said. "And nowadays, you also have other ways and means to get your information, so I guess in the long run, a lot of these shows will disappear."
Kaup said the UK market remains one of the most important for his company. "Besides France, the UK is our best market in Europe," he noted.
Kaup anticipates further disruption of the attachments market, as AGVs become mainstream. "So, we have to adapt our normally not-very-intelligent attachments to the requirements of the future," he said. Kaup has just employed a specialist engineer to help with the new challenges which, he said, can't be met by normal mechanical engineering solutions.
Smart forks currently represent less than 1% of Kaup's sales, but are rising rapidly.