Ryder Material Handling, part of Crown Lift Trucks, is one of the sponsors of the conference. Titled “Discovering Disruptive Technologies in Logistics and Distribution,” the conference focuses on the innovations that are changing the way business is done. Andersen’s presentation reviewed the current state of forklift automation and the considerations fleet and warehouse managers need to address before adopting the technology. One important consideration covered in the presentation was the idea that these autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles should be treated like a solution, rather than just a forklift, that will impact warehouse processes and systems currently in place.

“Forklift technology has made notable advancements, such as easily upgradable on-board software, and is currently being successfully applied to specific warehouse applications in order to meet today’s demands as well as to anticipate future needs,” said Andersen. “Continued technology innovations coupled with other material handling technologies will enable forklift investments to dynamically respond to changing circumstances within warehouse and distribution environments without compromising initial investment costs.”

Crown understands its customers are adapting to a world of changing expectations. Business leaders are seeking lower costs, faster throughputs and better information so they can make more informed and anticipatory decisions faster. Meeting these expectations requires a combination of greater transparency into operations, improved management, increased productivity and continued focus on safety and compliance. Technology, when successfully integrated into operations, has the potential to help customers achieve all of those objectives.

For example, Crown unveiled last week in the United Kingdom its Auto Fence and Auto Positioning System solutions that leverage radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to enhance safety and productivity. Auto Fence controls forklift operation near a hazard or where greater caution is required. The Auto Positioning System automates travel and lift functions for the most efficient path between the forklift and its destinations.

Also, Crown’s QuickPick Remote order picking system uses semi-automated truck navigation technologies to reduce low-level order picking walk steps, thereby increasing productivity, reducing operator fatigue and improving safety. It cuts “truck on/off” work motions by up to 70 percent, reducing fatigue and improving the operator experience. Crown research has shown that the Crown QuickPick Remote system can save up to five seconds per pick at a 16-foot interpick distance. At 100 picks per hour, QuickPick Remote may generate as much as a 14 percent time savings.