CHICAGO — Kicking off what will be the first of many announcements here at ProMat 2023, materials handling firm Yale is changing its name to Yale Lift Truck Technologies to reflect the company’s doubled down focus on technology-enabled vehicles for the warehouse.
Accompanying the new brand identity were several demonstrations highlighting the latest Yale vehicles, some of which had never been seen by the public before Monday. The vehicles ranged in size and purpose, but all are fully electric and capable of integrating with other warehouse technologies and systems.
“The challenge is with added warehouse space requirements, it requires staff, and the industry is plagued by labor shortages,” David Furman, president of marketing, strategy and business development at Yale, told members of the media at ProMat.
While Yale’s lift trucks and other vehicles are not autonomous, they address labor issues in a different way. Core to the rebranded company’s identity is consumer-centric design. The idea is to build trucks that make associates’ lives both safer and easier, helping to reduce turnover and boost the efficiency of each individual worker.
For its stand-up vehicles, one way Yale does this is through a unique platform that absorbs shock much like a Cadillac on a bumpy road. It slides up and down when the vehicle encounters cracks or bumps, taking the load off of the operator’s lower body.
Another interesting component to the platform is that it doesn’t have pedals. Instead, they’ve been replaced by sensors that confirm the operator is in the vehicle, automatically applying the brakes if they step out. Operators can control the movement of the vehicles and their attachments via joysticks.
Yale’s end rider, reach truck and stand-up three-wheel models, which were showcased at ProMat, all feature the design. And they’re all electric — the firm also showed off its lithium ion-integrated three-wheel sitdown truck, one of the first with that battery.
Wrapping up Monday’s demonstrations was a closer look at Yale Reliant, a suite of operator assistance and safety technologies that can be included on any model. Sensors at the rear of the vehicle create a 180-degree detection radius, causing it to stop when it encounters an object or another associate.
A beacon on top of the vehicle, meanwhile, allows it to communicate with sensors in associates’ badges. They’ll receive a buzz or notification when a vehicle is about to cross their path.
To boot, Reliant scales with the experience level of the operator. Safety controls like maximum speeds, automatic braking and hydraulic lift limits can be customized based on the operator’s specifications, making it a useful tool for onboarding inexperienced workers.
Watch: How do you improve your warehouse safety?
“When operations look to suppliers for help, they’re met with complacency and rigid terms based on what’s best for the factory — not the needs of modern warehouses,” said Furman. “We think it’s time warehouse operations rethink what they expect from lift trucks, technology and suppliers. That’s why we’ve invested in a more creative approach built around the customer, engineering lift trucks as smart technology foundations and bringing innovations to market faster.”
Furman and other company executives also took time to highlight the Yale Independent Dealer Network, a patchwork of sales and services organizations that connect with customers to identify their specific needs.
These entities are not owned by Yale, but they distribute the company’s vehicles across local customers, providing continued support after deployment. And because they’re independently owned and operated, each dealer’s focus is on customer satisfaction rather than directly driving business to Yale.
“Just as Yale has extensive experience developing and integrating lift truck technologies, we have the front-line experience implementing, supporting and helping customers get the most out of robotics, telematics, electric power and more,” said Coit Edison, president of the Yale Dealer Council. “We benefit from the OEM focus on developing advanced, smart lift truck solutions, freeing us to focus on serving customers with the agility and flexibility today’s warehouses require.”
According to Furman, the dealer network is one of three prongs in Yale’s strategy moving forward, with the other two being consumer-centric design and technology integration.
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