Fork Truck Free and Industry 4.0 Exceeds Throughput Goals

January 4, 2019 Fork Truck Free Info 2480 Views

Guided vehicles can be easily programmed by manufacturing plant floor staff to perform exactly as trained each and every time, running a 24/7 three shift operation. Topper Industrial has a string of carts behind AGVs (automated guided vehicles) eliminating costly downtime and increasing throughput productivity. All part of the FTF (Fork Truck Free) initiatives and integration with Industry 4.0 methodologies, both AGV and cart consistency is critical to meeting and exceeding throughput goals.

The integration of highly tested real-world autonomous operations with FTF solutions have proven to improve both employee and facility safety. Safe and predictable material flow improves the efficiency of any manufacturing facility.

The low employment rate and limited skill labor available has forced manufacturers to reduce labor and operating costs. In an FTF environment, more is done with less and optimized workflow processes permit operational cost-cutting without compromising consistent and efficient delivery of goods throughout the plant, distribution center, or between manufacturing cells. Quality employees are redeployed to value-added positions.

Industry 4.0 and FTF are about smart machines and smarter materials handling. Industry leaders are investing in sensor-equipped technologies that capture data and allow them to monitor material flow in real-time. Since most automated guided vehicles are now connected to the Internet, data-rich sensors collecting predictive data, self-driving vehicles are an extension of Industry 4.0, FTF and lean initiatives.

Industry 4.0 FTF and Material Flows

Individually customized or mass-produced custom products require more items to be managed as well as leaner material flows. These factors exponentially increase the complexity of logistics. Nearly half of manufacturing disruptions are due to problems with materials – wrong or defective part, missing parts, or unavailability of parts during production.   

State-of-the-art factories are preparing for the increase in logistic complexity, which is evident as there is a boom in warehouse automation and warehouse management systems (WMS). These companies know that the old methods will not apply in the new environment and mother/daughter carts are better equipped to handle frequent deliveries and in smaller quantities. More precision and efficiency in receiving, drives the impact of material flow efficiency from suppliers; this improves using ASN messages (advanced ship notices. Whether at a plant or manufacturing cell, line works must know what item is arriving and the corresponding shipping units.

The fork truck free environment allows supervisors to manage the warehouse space dynamically and start using smaller unit quantities resulting in leaner material flows, from warehouse to manufacturing.

Moving materials to manufacturing requires flexibility, efficiency, and speed. The increased number of SKUs makes the traditional ‘installer picks’ approach impossible or at least inefficient. Assembly is moving toward 100 percent picking. Supermarket picking may be one step on the way, but the increased use of warehouse automation and number of SKUs is pushing toward warehouse to manufacturing picking. Picking for manufacturing has clear advantages in speed, quality, and efficiency.

All predictions and analyses expect a rapid transition toward the Industry 4.0 vision. Twenty-five percent of the manufacturing industry believes that over 30 percent cost savings will be realized.

Topper Industrial will be at ProMat in Chicago Booth #S4812 from April 8 – 11, 2019.

About Topper Industrial

For more than twenty years, Topper Industrial, ( has been a leading manufacturer of material handling carts and equipment solutions. Topper Industrial designs and builds industrial delivery carts, cart lifts, lifts & tilts, material handling racks, steel containers, casters, tube & joint and industrial cart parts & components. Topper Industrial specializes in services to Manufacturing, Fulfillment, Warehousing and the Distribution Sectors. Topper Industrial’s services include, but are not limited to: Design & customization, manufacturing & production, site analysis & planning and  implementation justification. Topper’s material handling solutions make delivering material line side more effective through more efficient practices.

Topper Industrial is a proud member of MHI. Follow on Twitter @TopperInd or on LinkedIn.

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