Enhanced ergonomics for higher productivity
5 Apr 2023
New mast variants make Linde Material Handling’s semi-automated horizontal order pickers an even more ergonomic and comfortable option
Horizontal order picking still holds great potential in terms of optimization. Corresponding measures are aimed at achieving the shortest possible walking distances between the vehicle and the rack location, as well as maximal ergonomics, in order to provide the best possible support and assistance for employees. The three new mast variants of the Linde N20 C SA semi-automated order picker enable operators to comfortably raise the truck’s forks to working height so that they needn’t bend down when handling the goods. This conserves the employees’ strength and energy and protects their physical health.
“Process and supply chains that are becoming more digitized, a growing number of product variants and, last but not least, demands for the highest possible pick rates mean that logistics managers in warehouses and distribution centers are increasingly looking for automated solutions,” says Manuel Seidel, Product Manager Automation. “While the actual picking process, i.e., retrieving the goods from the rack and placing them on the goods carrier, needs to be done manually, the Linde N20 C SA semi-automated order picker can at least assist the operator with moving in the rack aisle. This saves time and energy and increases productivity,” says Seidel, outlining the main advantages.
With the three new mast variants, the semi-automated order picker now offers operators even more benefits in the form of enhanced ergonomics. The compact Linde N20 C L SA is designed for order picking from the lowest rack level onto a pallet that can be loaded with 1,200 kilograms of weight. The forks on this model can be raised to an ergonomic height, allowing the operator to place the picked goods on the pallet while maintaining a posture that is easy on the back. Owing to its compact design, the order picker proves to be extremely maneuverable even when fully loaded. The Linde N20 C D SA, which offers a maximum load capacity of 1,200 kilograms on the main lift, can pick up two pallets separately and transport them one above the other in a space-saving manner. This mast variant is particularly suitable for longer transport distances. Heavy goods are transported on the initial lift, fragile goods on the main lift. The Linde N20 C LoL SA order picker enables the filling of two pallets in just one order picking cycle thanks to its long load arms and the additional liftable fork. The operator starts with one pallet at the desired height, while the second pallet is secured vertically to the back of the fork with a special safety device. As soon as the first pallet is filled, it is lowered onto the load arms and placed at the front of the fork. The second pallet is then transferred onto the forks and can also be loaded at a height that is easy on the back. In the process, the mast can be controlled to the right and left of the backrest.
More efficiency through semi-automated driving modes
The new mast variants expand the Linde N20 C SA’s range of applications. The main characteristic of the semi-automated order picker is the choice between two driving modes that are geared towards the two main customer applications: In the first, the worker moves in a U-shape in the rack area, initially picking only on one side and then switching to the other. The truck follows the operator through the aisle, avoiding minor obstacles and stopping automatically at the end of the aisle. If the operator stops to load up goods, the truck stops as well; if the employee moves forward, the truck continues on automatically. This saves operators a lot of walking, as they do not need to return to the driver's platform each time to move the truck to the next rack position. The second travel mode is used when picking is taking place on both rack sides at the same time, resulting in a Z-shaped path. In this case, the operator sends the vehicle ahead using a remote control. At the end of the rack aisle, the operator gets onto the order picker and drives to the next aisle.
When asked for whom the semi-automatic order picker option pays off, Manuel Seidel says: “Depending on the application, an increase in efficiency of between six and 15 percent can be achieved. If you calculate an increase in productivity of around ten percent, the additional investment will have paid for itself in about a year in a two-shift operation with standard industry wage costs.” Another advantage is that the vehicles can be seamlessly integrated into the customer’s existing processes.
Safety at the highest level
To ensure a high level of safety, the semi-automated vehicles feature integrated high-performance safety scanners at the front that detect people, obstacles and other trucks and can thus prevent collisions. The vehicles also maintain a minimum distance of 50 centimeters from the rack to ensure a safe and comfortable working space for the operator.