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Focus: Distribution/Materials Handling

Feature Article from Our Distribution and Materials Handling Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

Feb. 8 , 2011

Logistics News: New Products from Crown Equipment Offer Potential Path to Higher Distribution Center Productivity

Improved Vertical Speeds and Lift Capacity and Height Capabilities Distinguish New Narrow Aisle Lift Truck; New Remote Control for Rider Trucks should Improve Case Picking Productivity


SCDigest Editorial Staff

The News:

Crown Equipment hopes its customers can literally "reach new heights" with the release of its new RM 6000 Series product line, which it says provides the industry with new maximum height and weight capabilities for a narrow aisle reach trucks, and that operate at faster lift speeds.

Separately, Crown also announced a new task automating technology that provides the capability to remotely advance a pallet truck with the push of a button without the need to get back on to the truck or walk it forward from the front, improving productivity in the case picking process.

SCDigest Says:

Order selectors spend a significant amount of time walking to get back on the truck or to move to the front and "walk" the truck along, only to go again to the back of the truck to pick the next order..
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Why it’s Worth Noting:

The RM 6000 comes with a new MonoLift™ mast that the company says is uniquely designed to lift loads weighing up to 1,000 pounds heavier than conventional reach trucks and to heights of 505 inches while operating in a narrow aisle environment. Crown stated that it’s “RM 6000 will give customers greater capacity at heights than any pantograph reach truck currently available in the market." (A pantograph truck is one that uses a scissors type mechanism to extend and retract the forks.)

The key benefits of the new technology, according to Crown, include:

  • Higher vertical storage – one additional level versus current technology
  • Higher operator productivity through faster mast speeds and better operator visibility
  • Higher density storage due to better use of high level storage locations
    • Potential for significant reduction in warehouse construction costs by going up rather than out

We also found that Crown’s new QuickPick™ Remote Advance System to be a very interesting innovation. The new technology is currently available with the Crown PC 4500 Series center control rider pallet trucks.

The product comes in part from a study undertaken by Crown’s engineers which found that during case picking operations on the floor levels of the racking, using a pallet rider type truck, order selectors spend a significant amount of time walking to get back on the truck or to move to the front and "walk" the truck along, only to go again to the back of the truck to pick the next order.

Crown believes much of this time can be recaptured through the simple press of a button on a "wireless transceiver glove," which is simply a form of remote control that the operator uses to move the truck to the next picking location without going to the truck's standard controls.

The Story:

Narrow aisle reach trucks, introduced in the mid 1950’s, transformed warehousing operations as more racked storage could be placed within the same amount of space. The popularity of narrow aisle trucks has steadily grown over the years as high density, narrow aisle storage configurations became the standard for optimum cube utilization.

Racking height is an important feature of this type of storage. The higher the loads can be stacked, the greater the storage density per square foot of floor space - and usually the lower the total DC construction costs for a given level of storage. However, "going vertical" can often lead to some hits to productivity, as the masts move comparatively slowly in the Z dimension, and product placement and retrieval are more tricky at higher levels.

Further, an annoying down side to the typical narrow aisle reach truck design has been that to store loads in the highest slots, load weight and truck mast speed had to decrease. In some cases, larger trucks requiring wider aisle were required.

Additionally, some industry observers claim that as many as many as 15% of total pallet positions in a high bay DC are not used due to these lift truck limitations.

Being able to access these high locations more efficiently and carrying more weight could add an equivalent amount of storage capacity to the building, which Crown says the RM 6000 will enable companies to do. The faster vertical lift speed of 153 feet per minute should increase productivity of the operators using the equipment.

Crown also says the RM 6000 provides better operator visibility at every height, which will also improve productivity by giving the operator more confidence and hence speed when placing or retrieving loads.

(Distribution/Materials Handling Story Continues Below)



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To use the RM 6000 fully may require a new DC or "raising the roof" on an existing one to get to the maximum storage height, but companies that aren't well using higher levels of their racking could benefit from the technology right now.

Remote Control Pallet Truck Management

The QuickPick™ Remote Advance System from Crown aims to solve the problem of lost order selector productivity from constant moves to the front of the truck from the back where the pick pallet(s) are located to advance the truck by walking with it or getting back on.

A special glove with simple controls (basically start and stop buttons) communicates with the truck's controls to move the truck forward and to stop it. Sensors on the truck itself position the truck correctly within the aisle as it moves forward and offer a variety of safety features, such as stopping the truck if there is any obstruction within the aisle.

This strikes us as one of those "why didn't someone think of this before?" sorts of innovations that has the potential to significantly improve productivity of manual case picking in high speed case pick lanes.

Companies like Seegrid have offered a vision that is similar in the end to using a new generation of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to similarly advance a truck in a case pick aisle, but with more integration say with a WMS versus pure operator control in the Crown solution.

Crown did not offer pricing details on either product at the time of release last week.


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