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Driving Throughput Up to 55% Using Autonomous Reach Trucks

by John Hayes   |   March, 2021

Load Movements up to 55% Faster Dramatically Increase Throughput

Autonomous reach trucks are most valuable in the manufacturing, distribution, and 3PL environment when embedded with infrastructure-free navigation technology. After a decade of research and development, the best-in-class reach trucks use 3D cameras to pick and drop pallets safely. The reach robot drives cost savings and quality improvements. Pick and drop from conveyors, gravity racks, and mobile racks add to numerous application possibilities.

New 3D Perception

Automation must never compromise accuracy particularly in FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) warehouses and distribution centers. Autonomous reach trucks offer 20-30 times more data than 2D perception, offering higher pick/drop accuracy (+/-10mm).

Recognition is based on the 3D shape of the pallet. This considers the inside of the pallet, not just the front, and more importantly it recognizes and works with all pallet types.

Aisle Space and Performance

Companies using wide aisle forklifts (a sit-down counterbalanced truck), generally require aisles to be 12-13 feet wide for standard 48-inch pallets. Narrow aisle trucks allow the aisles to be 9.5 feet wide, and for very narrow aisle (VNA) trucks they can be 6 feet or less.

Some of the additional autonomous reach truck features must include a 2D barcode reader because it triggers custom actions upon scanning and ensures product traceability. There are also energy options needed from standard lead-acid or TPPL utilizing fast charging technology.

Because of the wide variety of designs in 3PLs and plant floors, load overhang detection helps to continuously monitor load size and position during a pick/drop process. A curtain laser automatically and dynamically must be able to detect an obstacle at ground level (or at any height) maintaining optimal safety conditions.

The wheelbase of a reach truck is the same length as a normal counter-balance forklift; however, the body is more compact. When lifting a load, a reach truck moves the load back within the wheelbase. Less of the load is protruding from the reach truck, allowing it to work in much narrower aisles.

Turret type forklifts are used for operator pallet put-away and retrieval as well as order picking (case picking). A reach truck is designed for use in warehouses or 3PLs requiring high stacking in very narrow aisles.



Few reach trucks offer Integration of lasers into the chassis which make the design compact and optimizes the minimum aisle space required.

Facility Layout Optimization and Space Savings

Increasingly narrow aisle widths must be navigated allowing facility layout optimization and space savings. The autonomous reach trucks interface with machines, conveyors, WMS, and ERP software for full integration within existing operations.

John Hayes, Director of Sales for Balyo USA. Hayes is a widely-respected thought leader for the manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and materials handling industries. For more than twenty years Hayes has been evaluating, designing, developing, and implementing innovative technology solutions, with a particular focus in the AGV (automated guided vehicle) and AMR (automated mobile robots) space. Hayes is a Supply & Demand Chain Executive "Pros to Know" recipient. Contact Hayes at John.Hayes@balyo.com or on LinkedIn See More Details.

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