Modern warehouse management techniques and software are an often underappreciated, but an important piece of successful logistics businesses. For even a single simple mistake could send ripples throughout the supply chain affecting all processes down the line. This is why having standards and procedures in place for warehouse management is so important.

Constantly evolving technology is forcing businesses to adjust to newfound solutions in order to retain peak efficiency and support increasing demands of their customers. The newest types of technology are already being integrated throughout many operational processes and are adding more accuracy and speed to warehouse management practices and software. One of these such innovations is artificial intelligence (AI) that is beginning to be utilized in industries and technologies throughout the world.

To learn more about the new age of AI driven logistics we spoke with Ms. Aornuupin Nithipaphawarin, Automation Sales Manager and Mr. Emil Nauska, Group Manager of Toyota Material Handling International.

UNDERSTANDING AUTOPILOT FORKLIFTS

While Autopilot forklift technology might not be under the spotlight for logistics businesses in Thailand currently, with today’s technology driven society many businesses from different industries are welcoming the more advanced technology with arms open. It might not take long to see this Autopilot technology enters the Thai logistics marketplace as a top choice for next generation warehouse management.

Ms. Aornuupin Nithipaphawarin, Automation Sales Manage of Toyota Material Handling International.

“Autopilot forklifts are a coordinated solution between hardware and software”

“Toyota Autopilot forklifts are able to operate together with other automated equipment such as palletizers, robots, automatic doors, conveyors and fire alarms. Our own software suite enables a lot of opportunities, for example integration to our customers’ existing Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Each operation that utilizes Autopilot forklifts can be designed to fit the needs of each individual customers.”

The Toyota Autopilot AGV’s are built on the same platform as their manual forklifts, with the addition of the highest class of safety sensors and navigation technology. The Toyota Autopilots can use natural navigation where it uses the existing pillars and walls for navigation, or reflector navigation, or a combination of both. Safety sensors are added all around the Autopilot to ensure the safety of people working close to the the Autopilot, the valuable goods of the customer and the Autopilot itself.

OUTSTANDING SAFETY

Mr. Emil Nauska, Group Manager of Toyota Material Handling International.

“Autopilot forklifts operate in a system that allows a single human operator the ability to monitor every Autopilot forklift in a warehouse. The Autopilot removes the boring, repetitive tasks, which eliminates the exhaustion of forklift drivers and reduces accidents caused by human error,” elaborated Mr. Nauska.

“Safety has always been our top priority, and our Autopilot’s have proven this for many years.”

“Autopilot forklifts have safety sensors in the front, top, back and sides. Our Autopilots also have several safety features in the software to ensure the safety and accuracy of the load handling” explained Ms. Nithipaphawarin.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

More and more customers are asking for energy efficient and environmentally friendly energy solutions. This is why the Toyota Autopilots can be equipped with lithium-ion batteries from Toyota’s own battery factory.

“The lithium-ion solution does not require our customers to have a separate battery room with ventilation, and also enables for automatic charging. All our Toyota Autopilot’s can use lithium-ion batteries with automatic charging” explained Mr. Nauska. “To charge a lithium-ion battery completely only takes about one hour, and a fully charged battery can power the Autopilot up to eight hours.”

With automatic charging, Toyota offers different methods for charging the Autopilots. When the Autopilot does not have a mission, it will automatically go to the charging station and charge until the next mission arrives. This is called opportunity charging. If the battery level reaches lower than 30%, the Autopilot will automatically go to the charging station to charge. The charging can also be scheduled to certain times during the day to fit into the customers operations and prevent the batteries from running out during key operational times. This is all managed by the software suite from Toyota, called T-ONE.

IT’S ALL IN THE SOFTWARE

The Toyota Autopilots are controlled by the software suite from Toyota called T-ONE. T-ONE links together the Autopilots with the customers WMS system and other automation equipment. It provides a user interface where the customer can monitor the performance of the system through a number of KPI’s.

T-ONE MAKES USE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO ALWAYS ENSURE THAT THE GOODS ARE DELIVERED WHEN THE CUSTOMER NEEDS IT AND WHERE THE CUSTOMER NEEDS IT.

The AI controls the traffic management and is continuously monitoring the drive paths of the Autopilots to optimize the material flow. T-ONE can make use of barcode/QR code scanners, RFID readers or tablets to help the customers in their operations.

THE BEST SOLUTION

To make the most out of these forklifts, business owners must consider the appropriate use of these forklifts for their business. “When a customer has an interest in our forklifts, the first thing we do is help our customer find the appropriate solution,” said Mr. Nauska. “We always do a site visit and together with the customer develops a solution that will fit their operations and help them in the change from manual to automatic operations”.

After-sales service is another considerable aspect. Business owners must be certain that the chosen solution is worth their investments and is able to optimize their businesses.

“We have Thai staff who are experts in autopilot forklifts in Bangkok, Thailand, which considered to be a hub for Southeast Asian customers. We also have BT Midland Co., Ltd. as a service provider and distributor in Thailand. Our Thai staffs are able to quickly give customers aid all around Thailand. We have local distributors in all countries in Southeast Asia that will handle the service and support for our Autopilot installations,” Ms. Nithipaphawarin said.

We are living amongst many evolving technologies, and Autopilot forklifts integrated with AI technology are amongst the newest to the industry. Keeping one’s eyes open for these types of new technologies and opportunities is good for business. While they might not be the optimal choice for everyone, with the help from experts an assessment can be made to whether these types innovative machines match the needs and solutions of each specific business.

We are living amongst many evolving technologies, and Autopilot forklifts integrated with AI technology are amongst the newest to the industry. Keeping one’s eyes open for these types of new technologies and opportunities is good for business. While they might not be the optimal choice for everyone, with the help from experts an assessment can be made to whether these types innovative machines match the needs and solutions of each specific business.