The Benefits of Tugger Carts In Lean Manufacturing
The philosophy behind lean manufacturing is geared towards creating an eco-friendly work environment that produces the same amount and quality of products while expending less energy and reducing waste pollution. With more industries beginning to adopt this philosophy, lean thinkers have also devised ways to further increase production efficiency. Among the various equipment available, tugger carts are the most promising. Following are the benefits of using tugger carts in lean manufacturing.
Increased Delivery Capacity
Before tugger carts, forklifts were utilized to transfer weighty load from one production line to another. However, forklifts can only carry a limited number of containers, so the operator would have to go back and forth just to make a complete delivery.
This is no longer the case with tugger carts. Several carts can be linked together to form a train which is towed by the tugger, thus making it possible to finish deliveries in one go. Although the amount of carts to be linked together is theoretically unlimited, the tugger’s maximum capacity will depend upon its specifications, as well as the flatness and roughness of the floor surface.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that fork trucks are to be completely replaced. Use of these fork trucks will only be limited to shipping and receiving, tugger carts are in charge of in-plant transport.
Less Floor Congestion
Another lean manufacturing benefit of tugger carts is how it greatly reduces the plant floor congestion. Some of these tuggers are automatic guided vehicles or AGVs, which allows operators to set pre-determined routes to take. These routes can easily be configured to work their way around the plant without having to take up a lot of space, and without disturbing ongoing operations. The same route planning also applies to manually-operated tugger carts.
Tugger carts also reduce floor congestion since loading and unloading of containers is made easier. Forklifts require special maneuvering space just to have items received and dropped off, while tugger carts conveniently allow one cart to be removed from the series of carts, and effortlessly move along to the next destination.
Reduced Wait Times
Tugger carts also help reduce production time. To determine the delivery speed between tuggers and forklifts, a study has been conducted where these vehicles were made to load, move, and unload containers of the same weight from one place to another. The result was enlightening – it revealed that tugger carts can finish the same job for about half the time which forklifts would take.
This reduced delivery time is due to two main factors: the easily detachable nature of carts, and the perfectly designed routes. When the tugger stops by one station, the loaded cart is easily detached and replaced by an empty one before it moves on to the next station. This process of detaching and attaching usually takes less than a minute, thereby effectively eliminating wait times in production.
Another notable feature of these tugger carts is that it does not require advanced driving skills. Manually-operated tuggers have a simplified control panel, so operators are only required to undergo basic training to have it running efficiently.
Since tugger carts can deliver several containers in a single trip, it uses less energy compared to forklifts that have to travel back and forth just to finish the same delivery. This reduced energy consumption also leads to less waste emission, making it in sync with the lean manufacturing philosophy.
Aside from reduced energy consumption, it also reduces the manpower required in making each delivery. With the traditional delivery system, several people are required: one to drive the vehicle, one to unload the cargo, and one to load a new cargo. This is different in the case of tugger carts, where one person can effectively do all the jobs.
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