MiR Partners With Logitrans to Promote Autonomous Navigation in Several Areas of Manufacturing
Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) and Logitrans have announced a collaborative effort to build an autonomous pallet jack.
Drawbacks of Manual Pallet Jacks
Manual pallet jacks are widely used for warehouses and shipping purposes in industrial facilities. They are typically slid into a pallet, and then the operator manually pumps a hydraulic lever to lift the pallet off the ground. A set of wheels support the load while it is lifted.
Then, the operator pushes or pulls the pallet jack, navigates it to its desired location, then presses the release lever, gently releasing the hydraulic pressure and lowering the pallet.
There can be several major disadvantages with manual pallet jacks. The first problem is that operators will sometimes start to pump the hydraulic lever while the wheels are still on the crossbar of the pallet.
An autonomous mobile robot from MiR. Image used courtesy of MiR
Instead of lifting the load, the pallet jack first breaks the pallet. The next pain point is physically moving the pallet- it is heavy, and there is little visibility around the pallet. This leads to collisions and often leads to injuries or damage to products.
Finally, the pallet is placed, the hydraulics are released, and the load drops. If it is released too quickly, it can jar the products. Workers can also crush their toes under the pallet when it is released.
MiR’s catalog already includes numerous AMRs that have served the automotive, electronics, and life science industries, just to name a few. They develop the hardware, control software, and integration with sensors and cameras required to navigate the AMR through a fast-paced factory safely.
MiR 1000, capable of moving pallets weighing 1000 kg. Image used courtesy of MiR
Logitrans also has years of experience in materials handling through the use of their high-quality hardware. They provide the tools necessary to lift, rotate and transport solids, liquids, and small parts. Their biggest customers have been the paper/printing, pharmaceutical, and food industries, though they have developed custom solutions for other specialty clients.
Logitrans Panther Silent manual pallet jack can be moved quietly through the factory and is also suitable for outdoor use, including through the snow. Image used courtesy of Logitrans
“Combining our software competencies with Logitrans’s decadesof hardware knowledge will help us quickly fill the gap so that we can support our customers throughout the entire value chain, “Søren E. Nielsen, president of MiR, said in a recent press release.
The partnership will combine the software and sensors from MiR with the rugged hardware from Logitrans.
Automated pallet jacks can decrease the number of warehouse injuries due to intelligent motion control and collision detection. MiR’s AMR experience will provide safe navigation, while Logitrans will develop the mounting, lifting, and mechanical components for these automated pallet jacks.
The warehouse of the near future may consist of operators selecting the pallets while the AMRs do the heavy lifting.