The move is in response to growing demand for robotic material handling solutions that can address labor and other operations challenges in the warehouse and in manufacturing environments, company leaders said. Big Joe’s approach to robotic forklifts will match its existing focus on developing smaller, task-based material handling solutions, according to Chief Marketing Officer Bill Pedriana.
“Big Joe is known for making small, utilitarian lift trucks matched [sic] to a task, and what we are preparing for customers is so well aligned with what we have done for over 70 years. It is just hugely exciting for everyone involved with the brand,” Pedriana said in a press release announcing the division.
Pedriana has been involved in the development of the company’s initial autonomous products and strategy, which has focused on developing “user directed” cobots, including the BUD prototype unveiled at the Modex industry conference in Atlanta earlier this year.
Big Joe Forklifts has hired Nick Malewicki, a 25-year veteran of the distribution, manufacturing, and packing industries, as general manager of the division. He comes to Big Joe from Pactiv Evergreen, a North American manufacturer of fresh food and beverage packaging.
“Our big differentiation is that we will be able to quickly and successfully deploy autonomous products that actually work, every day, and exceed end-user expectations,” Malweicki said. “As a former end user, I couldn’t be happier to be building a team and leading our efforts to deliver on that promise for our customers.”
Big Joe Forklifts will provide more details on its automation products and technology partnerships in the first quarter of 2023, with a formal product introduction scheduled to take place during the material handling industry show ProMat 2023, which will be held March 20-23 in Chicago, according to the company.