Jungheinrich has developed two automated pallet scanning and identification systems that remove the need for manual data capture systems.
By integrating the truck into the information process Jungheinrich hopes to increase efficiency and safety, reduce costs and energy consumption and improve on-truck ergonomics for the operator.
Steve Richmond, general manager of Jungheinrich UK’s systems and projects division, said: “It could be argued that forklift trucks are approaching the point where they cannot be safely made to travel any faster or lift the load any more quickly without contravening heath and safety requirements, therefore future supply chain efficiencies are likely to be made by optimising the truck’s on-board intelligence systems and integrating the truck into the supply chain information process.”
For single pallet scanning a device is fitted to at the back of the lift truck’s fork assembly. When the driver enters the truck’s fork into the target pallet the scanner automatically records the ID barcode located on the load. Once the barcode has been successfully scanned, the scanner automatically switches.
The information on the barcode is then relayed to the warehouse management system and a pallet location is allocated within the racking.
The truck operator then delivers the load to the specified destination and puts the pallet away before scanning the pallet location ID to confirm that the pallet is in the correct place.
Once the WMS has confirmed that the pallet is where it should be, the forklift operator receives the next set of instructions via the on-board terminal.
If a mistake is made the driver will be alerted and further instructions will not be transmitted until it has been remedied.
The system is designed to save time compared with manual scanning and reduce the driver’s workload by lowering picking errors.
For multiple pallets Jungheinrich has devised a similar fork-based system that uses RFID technology and scanning antennae integrated in the forks to automatically scan several pallets at once.
All pallets are fitted with a built-in RFID transponder that contains the pallet ID. The forklift operator drives into the pallets and the antennae within the forks reads the ID and relays the information to the WMS.
All the pallets are verified and recorded simultaneously and a put-away location is sent to the driver via the truck terminal.
Once the operator has delivered the pallets to the correct location, the location ID is scanned and the system confirms that the pallet is in the right place, before the operator is allowed to move on to the next task.
Richmond added: “At the moment, this new system is at its most productive in closed pallet systems but RFID will become more and more widely used for pallet identification purposes and we believe it is only a matter of time before this technology is more widely adopted.”
The scanning systems can be incorporated into all Jungheinrich trucks.