The Innovative, Risk-Reducing, Productivity-Building Wonders of Power Tugs

As manufacturers and warehousers move into the future, industry leaders have worked to create the most efficient operations to keep up with changing needs. Growth has to enable fewer workers to accomplish more in less time. Waste needs to be reduced. Safety needs to be heightened. Production needs to be greener and more flexible. All of these ideals need to be met cost-effectively. No single piece of equipment has facilitated all of these goals better than the power tug.

A complete list of power tug applications would never be complete. Power tug manufacturers like Load Mover Inc. are regularly surprised by the ways that businesses are using their products. While there are countless examples of power tug uses, this article will focus on a few common applications and how one company used the tug in a unique way.

The basic idea

Walk-behind battery-operated power tugs provide the muscle of pushing and pulling tasks. They can be fitted to hitch onto just about anything with wheels and allow one person to pull up to 50,000 pounds effortlessly. This is a huge development following the realization that manually pushing and pulling carts causes just as many injuries as the lifting and carrying tasks that cart applications replaced.

In addition to allowing a safer means of pushing and pulling, the tug allows for a whole lot of material to be transported around a facility. Carts can be linked together to create a train, thereby making the potential of material moved in one trip almost limitless. The tug handle swivels so that it can easily maneuver awkward turns. The tug is one of the easiest, most practical pieces of equipment manual material handlers can put to use.

Forklift-free

The basic function of the tugs has been extremely advantageous to manufacturers eliminating or reducing lift trucks from their operations. Forklifts have proven to be a liability in many environments as well as drain on energy. The cost of maintaining and operating forklifts is astounding. With a little restructuring, power tugs have proven to be viable substitutes for the dangerous and costly lift trucks. All material stays close to the ground; product damage is far less likely when toted around via tug. Anyone can operate a tug without special training, making it easier to get work done on time. Visibility is not compromised with a cart or train of carts, so accidents are far less likely. Maintenance is minimal and a fraction of the cost of forklift maintenance. The tugs are battery operated and charged overnight, so they use no fuel and are energy-efficient. Even where forklifts are still necessary to production, power tugs have aided in improving the overall operation.

Multi-industry use

Pushing and pulling tasks are present in so many industries. Still, the highest incident rates of injury occur in manufacturing, warehousing, and nursing.

When it comes to manufacturing, tugs are instrumental not only in moving carts of product, but also large equipment and vehicles. Additionally, manufacturers are finding that tug applications support their streamlining efforts like lean and just-in-time. The power tug’s impact on productivity is so significant that even smaller companies put multiple tugs to use throughout production.

In the warehouse, tugs don’t just bring material around the floor, they are used to load and unload trucks. The stability and grip of the wheels help safely transfer items up and down slippery loading ramps and around tight corners. The tugs are small, so they easily fit between stacks of boxes and pallets as well as aisles and walkways.

Hospitals have been using tugs more regularly to transport patient beds, food carts, and other heavy equipment. Nurses can cumulatively lift over a ton in one shift, so the tugs have a real impact on injury statistics in this field.

Not-so-obvious

Some of the applications for power tugs have been rather ingenious. Modern Materials Handling posted an article detailing how the Aurora Packing facility in northern Illinois had a push-and-pull job that wasn’t on the ground, but in the air.

Slabs of beef weighing 200-450 pounds hang from the ceiling at the facility and have to be pushed to various stations. Pushing the meat manually was a drain on resources, time, and productivity. Workers had to rotate responsibilities every two hours to share the job of pushing the meat. This created bottlenecking and an overall slowed operation.

By using a power tug to push the meat, one person was able to do the job without rotation or interruption. Injuries and fatigue were reduced, and productivity skyrocketed.

Looking ahead

Moving forward, many areas of manufacturing will become more automated, and use of technologies like the cloud will be more significant. This will affect manual material handling in some respects, but the power tugs will remain cost-effective options to drive productivity and minimize injury in pushing and pulling.

Load Mover Inc. is a company that builds quality power tugs that reduce injury and increase productivity in manual material handling. They are popular with companies who switch to lean, green, and just-in-time operations. Their applications vary immensely. For more information on Load Movers, search this site, email info@loadmoverinc.com, or call 952-767-1720.