17 September 2018
A recent pan-European survey within the retail supply chain commissioned by Cat® Lift Trucks highlights safety, productivity and order-picking efficiency as buyers’ top 3 reasons for choosing lift trucks with automated features.
The survey’s results also support our policy of designing extra automatic aids into our products to help achieve maximum efficiency and safety. A good example is our recently introduced Cat® NO-N2 low-level order pickers range, developed for warehouse use at the first and second picking levels.
Of all the processes in a warehouse operation, order picking is often the most expensive in terms of employee time. In fact, order picker operators typically spend more time walking or driving than picking and so anything that can be done to improve efficiencies is a welcome factor for warehouse managers. One of the key challenges for our designers, therefore, is to speed up movement between picks to make the whole process more productive – but to do it with safety in mind.
If we use our Cat NO-N2 range’s design as an example, its technically advanced specification includes a unique intelligent curve control system which reacts rapidly to the operator’s steering behaviour and travel speed. The order picker automatically adjusts sensitivity, cornering speed and angle limitation to meet changing needs, enabling its user to drive rapidly between picking points without losing stability. Additionally, changes in the forklift’s mode of operation also result in automatic adjustment of maximum travel speed and steering angle. (In ‘walk-by-side’ mode, these factors are safely limited.)
Furthermore, from a walking position, the operator can quickly return to the lift truck’s faster ride-on mode using its ‘flying start’ function. This allows acceleration to begin before he or she steps onto the presence-detecting floor mat – at which point full acceleration is activated.
When reversing, the steering control characteristics of the order pickers are modified to allow for the driver’s sideways position and one-handed operation. Other electronically governed systems also incorporated to improve productivity include advanced traction control, hill hold and anti-lock braking. In addition, the performance parameters of the forklift truck can be simply switched between ECO and PRO options or customised by an engineer.
These technologically advanced low-level order pickers therefore not only deliver the best energy efficiency in the market but due to their design, help boost driver performance and safety by reducing fatigue and speeding up every aspect of order picking.
Coming back to the survey, interestingly its' results also revealed that many of the buyers that responded are open for ‘interesting innovations and features’. I am sure that they will be pleased with the Cat NO-N2 range when they test it.
In this respect our survey’s findings again reinforce Cat Lift Trucks’ continuing drive to excite customer interest with technologically progressive designs and specifications for materials handling solutions.