In the era of self-driving cars and smart homes, it isn’t surprising that the Internet of Things is making its way to the material handling industry. According to Forbes, this means more than the “smart” forklifts we have currently, which include features like:
- Diagnostics that signal when the equipment needs to be serviced
- Speed controls
- Anti-slip technology that monitors wheel spin and improve traction on slick floors
- Collision detection
- Fork speed optimization
“Smart” Forklifts vs. Intelligent Forklifts
These intelligent forklifts, though, offer capability beyond the forklifts we have now. From automatically moving forks at speeds much quicker than an operator could safely move them at, to slowing the lift’s speed in detected high trafficked areas, these intelligent forklifts promote new process flows in the warehouse.
“In mixed case picking, intelligent forklifts can integrate with pickers wearing voice systems, follow them up an aisle, lift the pallet to the correct ergonomic height for picking based upon the location of the inventory in the warehouse racking, and then, when ordered to do so, autonomously (without a human driver) make the trip to a shipping dock for unloading.”
Those this might be the direction the industry is heading, these capabilities are still very uncommon. How will it affect the industry if forklifts become more intelligent? And if not forklifts, what about other forms of material handling?