Productivity, Cost, and Safety: Benefits of the Tugger over the Lift Truck

posted on: Wednesday July 3, 2013

The idea of switching to a forklift-free environment isn’t a new one, but it seems to be reiterated with each new trend in operational innovations. Initiatives like Lean and Just-in-Time manufacturing downplay, if not eliminate, the need for forklifts. How are we supposed to be productive without this essential and long-used equipment? What seems to have revolutionized manufacturing and the warehouse is the power tugger.  While not every company can do away with their lift trucks, many who thought they couldn’t are now in strong support of the tuggers. These walk-behind, battery-operated tugs are proving to be more productive, more cost-efficient, and safer than their predecessors.

Again and again, the tuggers are praised for their effects on productivity. In Material Handling and Logistics’ “Equipment Update: Tugger Power,” writer David Drickhamer quotes Cesar Jimenez, electric product planning and marketing manager for Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A. Jimenez says that with a proper route layout, tuggers can do the job of 10 forklifts. He points out, “A forklift can only carry one load, or sometimes two loads. With tow tractors, you can pull multiple carts.” Drickhamer also interviews Bill Condon, lead materials engineer at the Marion Division of Whirlpool. Whirlpool made the change to tugs in 2005. Condon describes the tugger process as driving a train rather than a bus. Their old system only allowed one or two skids to be transported at a time, whereas the tugger can carry six or seven.

Aside from skyrocketing the amount of product that can be moved in one load, tuggers also improve productivity because of their design. For starters, tuggers are ergonomic. Models like the ones made by Load Movers allow people to tug up to 50,000 pounds without strain. Workers don’t experience as much fatigue, so they are in better shape to stay productive longer. Also, anyone can use a tugger. This allows more flexibility in workstation design because as products move from one point to another, anyone can be moving them.

From a cost standpoint, the fact that anyone can operate a tugger is huge. Modern Materials Handling posted Josh Bond’s article, “Lift trucks: Using tuggers and carts effectively.” In here, it is noted that both forklift trucks and forklift truck operators cost five times more than a tugger and tugger operator. Jimenez discussed cost as well: “With a forklift, you need to learn more things. You need to know how to pick up the load from the ground and, more importantly, from the rack. If you don’t pick it up properly and you hit it, you have product damage.” Product damage is far less likely to occur when items are transported via tugger than lift truck, adding another economic benefit to the tug.

Both productivity and cost are positively impacted when safety is high, and the tug is hands-down safer than the forklift. As Condon said, “We’ve never had tugger accident in the facility.” The tuggers are safer to operate and just don’t have the risk factors that lift trucks do. They allow for visibility, they don’t tip over, and they maneuver around tight, awkward turns. Additionally, as ergonomic equipment, the intention of its design is to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. Employees experience fewer injuries and less fatigue, which means fewer days away from work, fewer workers’ comp claims, and lower insurance premiums.

All three of these major benefits – productivity, cost, and safety – enhance each other. With the degree to which they each are affecting businesses using the tuggers, it is no wonder the power tugs are being used in more and more facilities. For information on high quality power tugs, look into Load Movers. Their state-of-art equipment has the best safety features and is backed by the best customer service in the business. Continue searching this website, email, or call 952-767-1720 to see how Load Movers can benefit your employees and your business.