ProMatDX Report Day 3: A New Equation for Autonomous Lift Trucks

April 14, 2021  |  Pittsburgh, PA

Any type of warehouse automation has always been a way to lower costs by minimizing labor requirements. The equation typically has centered on cost efficiency gains, with perhaps other benefits like better space utilization or increased throughput in the mix.

Cost reduction remains a core driver for materials handling automation, including autonomous lift trucks. However, because of issues like rapidly accelerating ecommerce and the continuing problem of being able to find enough warehouse staff, especially forklift operators, the reasons why companies are choosing autonomous lift trucks is taking a different strategic bent.

Objectives like operational continuity and mitigating the business risk of relying on manual workflows which are hard to scale, are becoming more important. The equation is a bit less about cost savings, and more about reliable operations and making wiser use of the people you can find.

At ProMatDX, sponsors/exhibitors involved with autonomous lift truck solutions agree that using automation can help achieve resilient fulfillment operations. While fully autonomous lift trucks aren’t new, this resilience imperative should make 2021 a good year for adoption of autonomous lift trucks.

"The fulfillment pressures that have been placed on operations have been building up over several years,” says Jeff Christensen, VP of Product for Seegrid, a ProMatDX sponsor that offers autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and enterprise software for material handling. “The demands are great, the labor that is available is less, so the pressures to do more with less have never been greater."

At ProMatDX, Seegrid is launching a new product, its Palion Lift, as well as discussing Fleet Geek, a cloud-based fleet analytics solution. The Palion Lift uses Seegrid’s AMR technology, and is designed to haul payloads from one area to another, placing up to 3,500 pounds of payload at heights of up to six feet. Mobile automation like the Palion Lift can help companies cope with rising fulfillment pressures, says Christensen, while making the most effective use of machine and human resources.

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