The system uses transponder RFID technology to control narrow-aisle lift trucks within the aisles of a warehouse. Photo by MCFA.

The system uses transponder RFID technology to control narrow-aisle lift trucks within the aisles of a warehouse. Photo by MCFA.

HOUSTON – Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA), a leading provider of forklift trucks in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, introduced the Jungheinrich Warehouse Navigation system technology to the North American market. The system, which is designed to increase efficiency and productivity in narrow-aisle applications, uses transponder radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to control guided Jungheinrich very narrow-aisle lift trucks within the aisles of a warehouse. Utilizing the system, customers can expect an up to 25% increase in productivity, depending on the application environment.

“Jungheinrich’s Warehouse Navigation technology is the first of its kind available in North America,” said Michael Wiesenegg, product line manager of warehouse systems for MCFA. “The Jungheinrich brand is recognized worldwide for its innovative warehouse material handling products and solutions, and it’s exciting that customers in North America now have access to a system that is proven to significantly boost productivity, reduce logistics costs and improve flexibility.”

The Warehouse Navigation system is a semi-automatic approach to reaching pallet positions within the aisles of a warehouse. Transponders are placed in the warehouse floor at specific distances and are used to communicate with a RFID reader / writer in the lift truck to identify warehouse aisle locations and distances. Armed with this information and the forklift’s height measuring capability, the system knows its location within the aisles at all times and can be programmed to reach specific pallet positions by selecting the most efficient combination of traveling and lifting.

The customer can choose to integrate the system with the existing warehouse management system (WMS), allowing for seamless transmission of orders to the operator’s RF terminal that is installed on the forklift. Once the order is received, the operator can activate the accelerator and the lift truck will drive to the designated pallet position. The lift truck can then store/retrieve a pallet automatically, or stop, allowing the operator to pick from the current pallet location.

Key features and benefits of the Jungheinrich Warehouse Navigation system include:

  • Increased productivity by up to 25%. The lift truck selects the optimum combination of driving and lifting to reach a pallet position in the fastest and most efficient way possible. The system also helps reduce product damage, because lifting and putting away of the pallet is controlled by the forklift in most instances, not the operator.
  • High order picking and stacking accuracy. When the lift truck arrives at the designated pallet position, a spotlight (optional) illuminates the picking position, showing the operator which side of the aisle and which location to pick from. During pallet retrieval and put-away, the Warehouse Navigation system helps to ensure the correct pallet is moved based on the order received from the customer’s WMS.
  • Improved operator safety and control. The Warehouse Navigation system relies on orders from the customer’s WMS to operate in a semi-automatic mode, selecting the most efficient path based on the items included on the order. However, the operator can deactivate the Warehouse Navigation system to manually operate the truck when needed.  
  • Adjustable warehouse layout. Warehouse Navigation is adaptable to future changes in the warehouse structure, allowing for maximum flexibility. While some navigation systems rely on integration of magnets or reflective markers, the use of transponder technology offers complete freedom. If a rack row changes or if more racking bays are added, the transponders are simply reprogrammed and the new configuration is stored in the controller. Changes are made using a laptop, and new layouts can be adjusted within minutes. The transponder is also easy to install and cost effective.