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Pallet Trucks – Innovations to Enhance Functioning Beyond Expectations

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

 In the race of taking hold of greater productivity, a positive outlook for industrialization and international trade is helming the growth of the pallet trucks industry. Growing focus on SMEs and entrepreneurs as a fillip in improving economic stability has intensified the presence of industrial domains related to production, warehouse and distribution. As operational efficiency is the prime importance of these emerging businesses, adoption of advanced and effective material handling equipment, such as forklifts or pallet trucks is common. 

With the modernization of industries under up-gradation of Industry 4.0 trend, advanced pallet trucks with high performance and effective maneuverability are employed across logistics and industrial workplaces. While catering to the demand from progressive end-users, implementation of technology and metallurgical innovations in design and development of pallet trucks is driving the global sales of pallet trucks.  In light of this, the pallet trucks market is estimated to witness global sales of worth US$ 1,400 Mn by the end of 2028, as per the steady growth rate projections by Fact.MR.

On the backdrop of historical popularity of standard pallet trucks, electrically powered pallet trucks have gained immense traction with their safer, effective and durable features. Innovations with the concentration on agility, safety and ergonomics are complementing their incremental adoption in warehouses, fabrication sheds, transport depots and docksides where goods distribution activities are frequent.

Warehousing Industry – An Avid End-user of Pallet Trucks

As the purpose of the warehousing industry has dramatically evolved beyond basic storage, the industry has become an important entity of the logistics market worldwide. Companies with warehouses take the assistance of third-party logistics system to outsource their distribution and fulfilment services. To accommodate constant transformation in the warehouses led by changing procurement, distribution and production methods the eminence of technologically advanced pallet trucks in maintaining warehousing functions is evident.

With the intention to provide safer transportation, distribution and delivery, material handling equipment are highly utilized in warehouses of multiple industries including e-commerce, food & beverage, chemical, electronics, pharmaceutical and aviation. As pallet trucks can easily access materials to and from the ground level as well as loading dock level, they are one of the preferred material handling equipment utilized in warehouse applications. With the expanding spaces of warehouses across industries, utilization of pallet trucks is set to intensify which, in turn, complements the purported healthy volume sales by 2018 by Fact.MR.

Application Focused Product Innovations

As end users demand high precision material handling combined with versatility, application-specific innovations have crossed the borders of usual capacities of pallet trucks.

-          With the introduction of new metal compositions with thermo elastomers, ductile iron, and high-strength low-alloy aluminium, the durability of the pallet trucks has been prominently increased as compared to the traditional low-carbon steel pallet trucks.

-          Integration of polyurethane-based wheels has enabled pallet trucks to achieve silent movements, higher protection against smooth & delicate floors and improved grip.

-          Advanced features for specific operations such as stand on platforms, ergonomic operator compartment, side battery extraction influenced by multi-shift applications and height-adjustable electric tiller head for tactile or intuitive applications enhance the safety and comfort of pallet trucks.

-          Telescopic jacks and lateral stabilizers enable high lift pallet trucks to automatically decline speed and prevent damage to high-load cargo.

-          Given that pallet trucks are the preferred choice for warehouse applications as they deliver cost-effective, user-friendly and versatile solutions of material handling as compared to forklifts and other relevant equipment.

Electric & Hydraulic Pallet Truck at Forefront of Demand

Development of electric powered pallet trucks has transformed the operational efficiency of the warehouses. Hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion battery powered pallet trucks are highly preferred for material handling. Affordability combined with economic returns on investments has increased the popularity of lithium-ion battery for smaller pallet trucks. Deployment of electric and hydraulic technology has made pallet trucks more sophisticated in terms of capabilities which goes beyond challenges of transportation of heavy goods and associated musculoskeletal injuries. Additional implementation of safety and ergonomics to prevent unanticipated and emergency threats have made electric pallet truck a preferable choice to enhance productivity as well as operational efficiency.

A Path Forward with Automated Guided Pallet Truck

Designed with the aim to reduce operator’s efforts, automated guided pallet trucks function on predetermined routes during material handling. Key developments can be observed in the automated pallet trucks such as Baylo (Yale), Courier (Raymond) and T-Matic (Linde) that are incorporated with GPS, lasers, vision guidance systems and other navigation-assisting technologies. Their efficiency goes beyond other automated guided vehicles’ (AGVs) functional characteristics. In addition, integration of smart sensors enable automated guided pallet trucks to estimate approaching corners to deliver better load stability. 

Ongoing Development of Smarter Material Handling Systems

Industrial automation is set to cross the boundaries of operational efficiency and, in turn, instigate implementation of smarter technologies. Automated solutions for material handling comprise different kinds of vehicles devoted for storage & retrieval, pick and place, conveyance or guiding. Majority of these functions are manifested with the help of pallet trucks and multiple attachments.

Encouraged by better operational efficiency, technological developments are underway to improve the existing autonomous material handling systems. For instance, Toyota Material Handling North America has granted US$ 499,785 to devise improved material handling technology in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology. Smarter handling vehicles such as trucks, tractors, and forklifts developed through this project are expected to effectively communicate and enhance warehouse productivity and safety beyond expectations.

Regional Outlook: North America to Dominate Pallet Truck Adoption

Owing to the presence of e-commerce giants including Amazon, flourishing real estate industry and strong supply chain, expansion of warehousing space has led to the development of warehouse management systems which, in turn, is driving the sales of pallet trucks in the region. Following North America, the European market is marked by the development of autonomous pallet jacks and forklift trucks and the introduction of new products by industry titans including Yale, Linde and Toyota.

Concluding Remarks

With the steadily rising annual sales, pallet trucks are set to observe a positive growth trajectory not only with their technological excellence but as an efficient, low-energy and cost-effective alternative to almost all functions of material handling across industries.

The insights presented here are from a research study on Pallet Trucks Market by Fact.MR

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