Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA) has introduced the Jungheinrich Warehouse Navigation system, a technology now used in 150-plus customer locations in Europe, to the North American market. The company, which exhibited the system at ProMat 2013, plans to install the navigation technology in two U.S. customer sites by mid-2013.
The system uses transponder radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to control very-narrow-aisle lift trucks within the aisles of a warehouse. Utilizing the system can improve productivity by up to 25 percent, depending on the application environment, the company says.
The Warehouse Navigation system is a semiautomatic approach to reaching pallet positions in a warehouse. Transponders placed in the warehouse floor at specific distances communicate with an RFID reader/writer in the lift truck to identify aisle locations and distances. The system knows the lift truck's location within the aisles and can program it to reach specific pallet positions by automatically selecting the most efficient combination of traveling and lifting.
The system can be integrated with an existing warehouse management system (WMS), which transmits orders to an RF terminal on the forklift. When an order is received, the operator activates the accelerator and the lift truck proceeds to the designated pallet position. The lift truck can then store/retrieve a pallet automatically or stop to allow the operator to pick from the pallet location. If the facility does not have a WMS, the system can be modified to work with paper pick tickets.
According to MCFA, features and benefits of the Warehouse Navigation system include increased productivity, high picking and stacking accuracy, flexibility, and improved safety and control.