Value Proposition of Tuggers and Carts: Near Fork Truck Free

February 16, 2018 0 Comments Fork Truck Free Info 5311 Views


In the ideal situation, fork truck free would be a literal definition. No more fork trucks. The savings and value proposition of AGV (Automated Guided Vehicles) tuggers pulling carts have been detailed over the past several months.

Lean manufacturing’s primary focus is to identify and deliver value to customers. An AGV tugger cart system is a forklift-free system that compliments lean manufacturing by shortening lead times, minimizing waste of the production line, and maintaining an even flow of activities. A tugger cart system reduces the need for many forklift trips.

Fork truck free reality check:

Reliable Plant magazine examined some of the areas and issues that should be considered when undertaking a transition to fork truck free. The issues for a given manufacturing or distribution operation may require that a few fork trucks, walkie stackers, or other industrial trucks remain in operation.

Area Issues
Operator Ergonomics/Safety Push/pull forces, rotational forces, reaching distance, lift height, bending/twisting needs, pedal forces, tripping, pinching, crushing or impact hazards
Part Picking, Sequencing, Presentation Line-side configuration (cart exchange vs. push) relative to high density/low density parts, dunnage type, weight, size and line space
Operator Efficiency (production) Cycle time targets, eliminate wasted motion or action
Zero Line Stops Simulation models, real variable assumptions
Line Space Required See part presentation
Operator Efficiency (MH) Market: loading/unloading dunnage, conveyor vs. forklift, tug speeds, market to line cycle times
Plant Constraints Floor types/condition/flatness, column locations, aisle widths, production line setbacks, turnaround areas, market areas vs. high-volume assembly locations
Equipment Constraints Existing conveyors, lifts, tilters, etc., that compromise ergonomics, forklift-free loading, cart geometry/alignment (to conveyors), number of carts/train
Financial Constraints Poor planning/business case, cost overruns, budget cutbacks (at expense of long-term forklift-free gains)
Replenishment Signals Determining the appropriate type of pull signals such as kanban cards, electronic RF calls, etc.
Visual Factory/Error Reducing Color coded inventory containers, open racking for easy identification of inventory, color-coded delivery locations


Moving toward fork truck free:

A fork truck free system typically requires less than half of the equipment and labor because one tugger can tow from four to eight loaded carts while a traditional system needs four employees to operate four forklifts. However, the choice to go forklift-free is not easy and requires much preparation.

Before switching from forklifts, the workflow throughout the shop must be evaluated to examine how each department and its suppliers will be impacted and what, if any, size or weight limitations may be involved. If carts limit certain material from converting to mobile queues, then a forklift will work better.

The lean goal is to move toward a forklift-free operation wherever it is practical.


Topper Industrial ( is a leading manufacturer of material handling equipment. Topper provides lean material handling solutions to the supply chain.

Topper Industrial is able to engineer and design Industrial Carts (Mother / Daughter Cart Systems, Quad Steer Carts or Tracking Carts, Specialized Delivery Carts, Transfer Carts with Roller Deck, Static Carts, Rotation Carts, Tilt Carts or Kitting Carts), Industrial Cart Components (Parts Department), Industrial Containers (Corrugated and Wire Mesh Containers), PalletsLift/Tilt Systems, and Racking. Topper Industrial designs all products with ergonomics in mind, focusing on ease of use and best positioning of material to get the job done.


For further assistance and inquiries on Topper Industrial Material Handling Solutions, please contact or visit

Related articles


No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply