Driverless forklift trucks for Europe

Tokyo, Japan: VisionNav Robotics is to sell its automated, vision-guided forklift trucks and intelligent operating systems in Europe.

The range includes driverless counterbalanced forklift trucks, reach trucks, stackers and tow tractors.

VisionNav uses ‘vision-based’ navigation technology based on vehicle-mounted cameras to sense the environment in which the vehicle is operating. Information concerning the structural design and storage system lay-out of the facility where trucks are deployed is stored as off-line maps which the visual navigation system matches with real time images received from the camera to navigate the truck in the warehouse.

With multiple vehicles controlled by the system, the trucks are directed to their next location via the shortest, fastest and safest route for best performance.

Visual navigation technology allows driverless industrial trucks to be adopted with minimal disruption to a site’s existing logistics process and, typically, a return on investment is achieved within two years.

“Capable of operating outside and inside in even the most dimly lit buildings, VisionNav driverless forklifts undertake every type of task that would be expected of a traditional manually operated forklift – including vehicle loading and unloading, pallet put-away and retrieval in both standard and very narrow aisle racking configurations, as well as pallet and stillage movements throughout the warehouse.” the company says,

In addition to the obvious savings in labour costs that driverless forklifts bring, other benefits delivered by VisionNav automated lift trucks include: reduced damage to goods, racking and trucks; greater picking accuracy; and more efficient use of the available storage space.

Jason Zang, head of sales – Europe, VisionNav said: “When it comes to running a lift truck fleet, the forklift driver is often the biggest cost. Salaries, bonuses, training and myriad other expenses combined with hidden extras such as the damage to goods or a building’s infrastructure caused by a carelessly driven truck or, worse still, injuries to personnel, all add up to a considerable sum.

“In addition, across the world there is a shortage of forklift drivers, so it is not surprising that more and more companies are adopting automated materials handling equipment to optimise the efficiency of their warehouse intralogistics processes.”

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