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Thursday, December 29, 2022

Autonomous vehicles like AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) are cost-effective, flexible, and reliable alternatives to conventional material transport methods like forklifts or static conveyors.

Unlike some automation options where automating means completely replacing a process or equipment with an entirely new structure, it’s common that individual AVs (autonomous vehicles) are added and removed as workflow requires, allowing you to see both manual and automated equipment working side by side.

In general, what makes autonomous vehicle integration successful is rooted in thoughtful planning for how it will be incorporated into your operation. How do you prepare to incorporate autonomous vehicles in a way that would improve your operation’s productivity without creating unintentional downtime?

Discover some key factors to consider when balancing both autonomous and manual vehicles in your operations.

Key Autonomous Vehicle Operation Considerations


First and foremost is safety. Make sure that your staff is aware of the different moving vehicles or traffic patterns. This can be accomplished through updated employee training plans which should capture new and updated pathways, new lights, indicators or alert sounds, and vehicle right of way. Additionally, stress the importance of keeping pathways clear and the risks of disregarding the rules.

Through recent advancements in safety controllers, AVs of all types offer a safe and predictable method of delivery. AMRs can leverage dynamic path planning to safely move around obstacles and avoid interferences, requiring no human intervention. AGVs can safely detect obstacles but require external intervention like a human individual to remove the obstacle before they can proceed.

In general, autonomous vehicles can operate almost around the clock, without the need for breaks, which means that human traffic and traditional forklift operators will need to be aware of these continuous pathways.

While all AGVs and AMRs go through thorough testing before being incorporated into live operations, hand paddles can be kept on hand to test vehicle sensors in between maintenance checks. By placing the paddle in front of the vehicle’s pathway, your team members can safely verify that sensors will trigger the appropriate automatic stop.


Unlike most automated material handling systems that are locked into place, AGVs and AMRs provide flexibility by being able to program new routes/missions on demand. However, there are a few key conditions that will help ensure robust navigation from destination to destination.

  1. Flat floors – by contrast steep grades, uneven concrete, and large cracks will reduce the successful mission rate.

  2. Defined travel paths –  pathways should be clear of obstructions and wide enough to provide the right amount of clearance for the vehicle and the loads it’ll carry or pull. Also, ensure that paths don’t interfere with other manual material handling solutions.

  3. Navigation selection –  determine guidance and navigation system to be used. Vehicles that use vision or natural features navigation require little to no infrastructure because they operate by referencing existing features so carefully analyze if your environment is right for this technology. Navigation selection can be compared to “choosing the right tool for the job” so consider which technology fits best in your operations.


Leverage fleet or traffic management software to monitor your operations. Tight integration with the warehouse operation host system and WES (warehouse execution system) will help bring together your material handling solutions and operation needs to better drive productivity, facilitate coordination and promote safer work environments. This will specifically help with task scheduling triggering vehicles to move throughout the warehouse to complete tasks. It can also help with route planning to determine movements, avoid traffic, and better utilize warehouse space.


In addition to considering the facility’s defined pathways and updating safety training, consider traffic pattern changes as a whole. Where will automated, human, and manual vehicle traffic overlap? Is it required to overlap, or can pathways be adjusted? Confirm each vehicle’s speed, automated and manual. Should additional safety sensors be added to avoid collisions? Work through these questions to make necessary adjustments.

Sometimes an AV system is considered after a process is already in place. With this being the case, it’s important to carefully consider when the changeover or addition of an AV could take place at your facility. Carefully plan the timing and season of operations to reduce backlogs during implementation.

Versatile Automation that Scales

The applications of AGVs and AMRs are expanding as customers become more accustomed to the capabilities and benefits that these autonomous vehicles can bring to operations. The flexibility and easy scalability to quickly add in a vehicle with little to no facility modifications and familiarity with a standard forklift style and design make these an attractive solution option. Keeping in mind and balancing for dual equipment types – manual and automated – will only help to ensure that both bring the most benefits to your operation on your timeframe. Avoid disrupting operations and make integration seamless with the above steps.

Ready to explore solutions for improved efficiency? Let us guide you on your automation journey. By combining data-driven designs, scalable material handling systems, and innovative software, our experts are ready to help you plan and execute.

Posted by tfinco at 12/29/2022 1:21:00 PM
Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Do you ever wish you could easily access products on the second level of your warehouse racks? Well, now you can. Toyota’s new Low Level Order Picker comes equipped with an elevated hydraulic operator platform that gives the operator quick and effortless access to the second and, in some cases, third level of racking for countless productivity. Learn more about how Toyota’s Low Level Order Picker can help increase your warehouse efficiency.

Benefits of Toyota’s Low Level Order Picker


Toyota’s new Low Level Order Picker can travel while elevated and simultaneously travels and lifts/lowers, allowing the operator to get from pick to pick quickly and efficiently. Optional hands-free lowering further enhances productivity by providing a foot-operated pedal to lower the platform. With the added load tray feature, operators are provided additional assistance when picking multiple cases at an elevated height. In addition, this lift is designed with single, double, and triple fork lengths that deliver flexibility to handle up to three pallets simultaneously.


Additionally, this warehouse warrior comes equipped with a powerful AC drive motor that provides a smooth, efficient operation while minimizing downtime. It also comes with fewer wearable parts, high energy efficiency, and less periodic maintenance to reduce downtime and operational costs so you can stay on the move.


At Toyota, we focus on delivering comfortable and intuitively designed equipment to help you carry the load. The Low Level Order Picker comes equipped with a new platform lift to help reduce the vibrations transferred to the load and operator. Additionally, there is a 21” spacious operating compartment with plenty of room for picking, entering, and exiting the forklift.

Deciding which warehouse solution is best for your operation can be difficult, but we’re here to help. 

Posted by tfinco at 11/8/2022 11:58:00 PM
Monday, August 2, 2021

Warehouse spills should be anticipated and prevented whenever possible. But even the most careful warehouse manager or operator can have a spill happen on their watch. Specific advice about what to do in the middle of a spill will ultimately depend on what you spilled. But there are some general things to keep in mind after a spill has occurred that can help you clean up and prevent the next one.

Steps to Take After a Spill

  1. Assess What Happened: Determining the cause of a spill is important to determine the cause and rectify the issue before it occurs again, but also so that you can determine what you need to take into account during clean up. What was spilled? Where was it spilled? Why was it spilled? All of these questions can help you to assess what needs to be cleaned up in the facility.
  2. Think about where you forgot to clean: It’s easy to remember to clean the floor surface after a spill. But have you thought about where else you need to clean? If you spilled a liquid, this could have splashed onto warehouse racking, product, or a lift’s forks. These are definitely safety hazards that can cause slipping of materials when they’re being handled. If you spilled something that scattered, be sure to check under racks and other warehouse storage systems. Loose materials are slipping hazards for both associates and forklifts.
  3. Be Proactive: I know. It’s really not helpful to say “well, in hindsight, you should have….” I can’t stand the guy who says that. That guy is a jerk. But in this case, one of the best ways to prevent the next spill is to learn from the current spill and be proactive. Make sure you have clean up stations with all the proper cleaning solutions, signage, and PPE available for associates to clean the area. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be available and accessible for reference. If you’re working with hazardous materials, make sure you have protocols in place in case you have a spill.
  4. Recertify Operators: After a near miss or accident, have operators recertify (it’s actually an OSHA requirement).This will mean that they need to train again on proper operating procedures to help prevent possible spills in the future.
Posted by tfinco at 8/2/2021 8:51:00 PM
Monday, December 28, 2020

Its no secret that warehouses have strict safety regulations to follow. Between facility and OSHA regulations, there are so many things to take into consideration to keep staff safe, and thats why Columbia works diligently to adhere to the highest safety standards and regulations.

Each vehicle is engineered with safety in mind. We offer many different upfits for visibility, safety restraints, speed restrictions, tires, and more! Columbia vehicles are built for work too, so you can rest assured that not only will the vehicle have the safest features possible, but it will also be able to tow, haul, or carry your staff, goods, or materials all day long!

Let's look at Columbia's line up to see how each vehicle is specifically engineered with warehouse safety in mind.

Columbia Chariot is built to transport key personnel quickly and safely throughout your facility. It is 3 times faster than walking and has 360 visability. The Chariot also keeps your personnel safe by removing the chances of people walking slowly through drive lanes and it makes them easier to see by bystanders and other equipment operators. It's narrow design allows for easy transportation through standard doorways as well. 

Columbia Expediter is uniquely suited to convert from carrying one to two passengers.  The rear seat area can be used to transport a small load or it can be converted to a second seat. It is designed to travel through narrow passageways and can be upfit from a 3 wheel to 4 wheel operation.

Columbia Payloader is ideal for your heavy loads. Its bed can be upfit for ladder racks, specialty equipment (tanks, welders, etc.), rails, passengers and more! With three different model tow capacities the possiblities are endless!

Columiba Stockchaser is the perfect vehicle to traverse narrow aisles to pick orders, restock, or carry maintenance equipment. The Stockchaser can be upfit for a wider deck area, double decking, or even an extended ladder!


Posted by tfinco at 12/28/2020 7:59:00 PM
Monday, December 7, 2020

Part of Toyota’s electric product line includes order pickers, which are commonly used in narrow aisle warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers. If you think your operations could benefit from a Toyota Order Picker, take a look at some of the more common questions below and see!

What is an order picker?

An order picker forklift is a piece of equipment used to help operators pick and deliver materials needed for filling out orders. They are designed take the forklift operator up to the rack with or without a load. Commonly, the forks hold a load that is being added to, not being put away. Designed for applications that require an operator to be at the same level as the inventory to pick a specific order, order pickers can help increase efficiency of the users when used in the correct setting. Need some more explanation? Check out the Toyota Order Picker official video below.

When are order pickers used?

Order pickers are commonly used by warehouses and distribution centers in an order fulfillment application. They are a great option for those needing to remove individual items from shelving. Order pickers can also effectively navigate in narrow aisle environments, which makes them ideal for warehouses that are looking to maximize space and capacity by moving racking closer together.

Why would I want an order picker?

It’s inefficient to pull an entire pallet down to remove just one or two items. If you’re continuously needing to take just one item off a rack, an order picker is a better option for you than a traditional forklift. Order pickers also provide more flexibility in narrow aisle applications. You could always contact your local Toyota Forklift dealer and discuss the possibility of a warehouse consultation. They will be able to offer suggestions on racking, pieces of equipment, and plenty more to help maximize efficiency in your operations.

How do order pickers run?

Order pickers are electric and run through the use of rechargeable batteries, very similar to traditional electric forklifts. Order pickers can be manually steered, but in narrow aisle applications, order pickers are commonly guided electronically with wires (usually under the warehouse floor) or mechanically with special profiles fitted on both sides of the aisle and attached to the warehouse floor. Wire guidance systems can be extremely effective when used in the correct setting, and could help reduce the risk of operators hitting the racking, and damaging the forklift, the product, or the racking itself.

Toyota Order Picker

Toyota’s Order Picker is a great option for those challenging high-reaching warehouse needs. It has a maximum reach height of 390 inches on select models, and can come with a 24-volt or 36-volt electrical system. Toyota offers three models to help fit your needs.

8BPUE15 – (24 Volt) For Value Driven Applications

8BPU15 – (24 Volt) For higher lifting and efficiency

8BPUH – (36 Volt) Best for High-throughput applications

Each model also comes with an optional rail and wire guidance system to help reduce the risk of operator driving errors. Like mentioned before, this can help protect your drivers, the forklift, as well as your product.

Lift Logic

Toyota’s Order Picker also comes with optional Lift Logic, which continuously monitors speed and lift height, allowing for optimized travel speed. This helps operators increase productivity. Lift logic boosts efficiency well beyond conventional lift/lowering speed monitoring systems.


If your order picking need is primarily ground level, check out the End-Controlled Rider Pallet Jack or a few other Toyota products that can help. To learn more about the Toyota Order Picker, or any other Toyota Forklift products, request a brochure, or you can contact your local Toyota Forklift dealer and see how we can help keep your operations moving.

Posted by tfinco at 12/7/2020 9:18:00 AM
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Warehouse Aisle Width Challenges

All warehouses and distribution centers are not created equal. Some have the space for standard width aisles (about 12 feet) and the traditional counterbalance sit down forklifts that can operate in them. Others however, configure their aisles in widths considerably narrower. Because real estate and space is at a premium in these tighter aisle operations many businesses expand in the only direction they can, up rather than out. The fact is aisle widths vary from location to location, that’s why Toyota has a wide range of forklift solutions to meet your variable aisle width needs. 

Internal Combustion (IC) Forklifts

The Toyota Core IC Cushion Forklift is an industry-leading multi-use forklift that easily crosses the boundaries between warehouses manufacturing plants retail and more. With lift capacities from 3,000 to 6,500 pounds and Toyota’s patented System of Active Stability (SAS) the dependable reliable Core IC Cushion forklift typically operates in 12-foot aisles, however, lighter capacity Core IC Cushion models can operate in aisles closer to 11 feet wide. 

4-Wheel Electric Forklifts

Then there’s Toyota’s four-wheel Core Electric Forklift. This model provides a smooth ride, is also equipped with Toyota’s SAS system and it’s an excellent solution for most indoor applications. With a compact model available the Core Electric forklift has the same capacity as the Core IC Cushion but with the ability to operate comfortably in 11 foot aisles. Skilled forklift operators with certain models can even work in aisles between ten and a half and eleven feet depending on load size. 

Mini Electric Forklifts

Next meet the Toyota 3-Wheel Electric Forklift. This model can tackle big jobs even in small spaces. In leaner aisles and tighter spaces the 3-Wheel Electric is a multi-use forklift that leads the industry in run time, travel speeds and lift lowering speeds. Available in cushion or pneumatic tires it easily navigates ten to eleven foot wide aisles, has a lifting capacity up to 4,000 pounds and a lift height of up to 23 feet. Equipped standard with wet disk brakes the Toyota 3-Wheel Electric forklift is a do everything forklift and an immediate upgrade to any facility. It also provides a quick return on investment with increased productivity and lower maintenance costs. 

Stand-Up Forklifts

Next there’s Toyota’s dock to stock star the Stand-Up Rider Forklift. With a lifting capacity of up to 4,000 pounds operating capability and aisles as narrow as 10 feet and a lift height of 23 feet. the capability of the Toyota Stand-Up Rider forklift is at the top of its class and one of the most versatile forklifts in Toyota’s product line. This model is built with the ultimate performance and comfort in mind – delivering improved ergonomics, reliability and durability while reducing service intervals. The Stand-Up Rider operates efficiently at the loading docks, inside trucks and in narrow spaces between tight high racking. 

Narrow Aisle Reach Trucks

Finally there’s Toyota’s top solution for narrow aisles, the Toyota Reach Truck available in single and double reach models. the Toyota Reach Truck can navigate aisles as narrow as 7 feet depending on model in load size. When exploring narrow aisles our Warehouse Solutions team can help optimize both your warehouse layout and your warehouse equipment. In addition to navigating narrow aisles the Toyota Reach Truck can handle loads up to 4,500 pounds and can reach racks as high as 30 and a half feet. The Toyota Reach Truck is well equipped with over 500 engineering design and performance upgrades including a newly designed mast, additional battery size options to fit unique warehouse and distribution center applications and longer maintenance intervals. The Toyota Reach Truck is a top performer and exemplifies Toyota’s position as a leading solutions provider and partner in the warehouse and distribution center industry. Reach new heights faster in narrower aisles and at less cost with the Toyota Reach Truck. 

Choosing The Right Forklift Solution For Your Needs

Whether the answer is narrow or wide, vertical or horizontal, inside or outside, electric or internal combustion Toyota has the right solution for your space and application. and Toyota’s legendary productivity, quality, durability, reliability and value are built into every model. 

Posted by tfinco at 6/3/2020 6:21:00 AM
Thursday, May 28, 2020

The use of LP, CNG, gasoline, and diesel forklifts can provide an increase in efficiency and higher ROI for many different types of operations. Whether moving material between manufacturing steps or increasing throughput in a warehouse, Toyota offers a wide variety of pneumatic tire and cushion tire gas-powered forklifts to fit your needs.

Facility design is one of the most important factors in protecting against the harms of exhaust, but a few key ventilation precautions can greatly reduce the risks from emissions.

But as with any piece of heavy machinery or equipment, proper precautions have to be taken to ensure people are protected from residual impacts of their use. In the case of LP, CNG, gasoline, and diesel forklifts, exhaust fumes can be harmful to employees and products if proper precautions aren’t taken. Facility design is one of the most important factors in protecting against the harms of exhaust, but a few key ventilation precautions can greatly reduce the risks from emissions. Here are a few reminders that you can use in your own facilities or bring to your supervisor’s attention.

Warehouses Need Proper Ventilation, Too

In fact, OSHA reported that most complaints of symptoms like dizziness and headache related to LPG forklift use came from warehouses. Performing a proper audit of your warehousing air flow can help to alleviate the possibility of harm from fumes to both people and products. If you run or work in a facility that requires both manufacturing and warehouse storage operation, then it’s important to remember to ventilate both areas.

Forklifts in Enclosed Areas can Lead to Ventilation Problems

Many operators have to use forklifts in very tight areas, sometimes for long periods of time. Long exposure to fumes from an LP, gasoline, CNG, or diesel forklift can lead to the possibility of health hazards. When working in spaces like semi-trailers, within the confines of materials that can’t pass air (think cotton bails), or small rooms for storing specialty products, taking breaks is required. Understanding how to offer proper air flow to these areas by opening windows and vents and providing fans can help limit risks. And according to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1912.12(a)(2), operating forklifts onboard a ship requires special precautions to ensure the right levels of oxygen are present in tight spaces.

Weather Can Impact your Ventilation

When things get cold outside, we tend to want to keep heat in. But when you close your windows, doors, or vents, you also have to account for the fumes that might fill your forklift-operating areas. Make sure staying warm doesn’t come at the expense of fume exposure.

Posted by tfinco at 5/28/2020 6:03:00 PM
Monday, April 20, 2020

What is a Site Survey?

A site survey is when a trained warehouse consultant visits a work space to help maximize the business’ work place through racking, equipment, and a multitude of other factors. Their job is to help a business work as efficiently as possible and utilize all the space a company owns. But why should you think about getting one? Below are a few reasons.

Warehouse Operation Efficiency

Once a warehouse consultant comes on the scene at the time and date arranged specifically for the site survey, it doesn’t take long for them to identify opportunities that can carry already profitable business even further.

For example, let’s say a company is using reach trucks to grab pallets, bring the pallets down, remove the product, and then put the pallet back up onto the racking unit. In this case, an order picker may be a more optimal equipment choice to get the job done.

Often times, companies have already thought of this, but their response as to why they haven’t done it yet is usually: “We’ve always done it this way.” Those words echo through warehouses and distribution centers nationwide, and often deter operations managers from making the moves they must make in order to meet the changing demands of the modern-day distribution environment.

For those companies that do embrace change, a site survey typically starts by inventorying all forklifts and determining how that equipment is being used in the facility.

Warehouse Storage

On the warehouse floor, a site survey can help detect storage problems (e.g., stacks of pallets that are pushed into corners using hand pallet jacks), inventory management issues, and poor use of vertical space. There are times when managers say they don’t have enough space, but only have product stacked 12 feet high in a building with 25 foot ceilings. This is an opportunity for the warehouse to grow up, instead of out. The site survey will also help determine the best equipment for this type of application, such as order pickers, reach truck, or a combination of both.

All of these steps culminate into a complete warehouse optimization package designed to help operations achieve and exceed their customer service, safety, and profitability goals. By getting material handling professionals involved early in the process, these operations may be able to optimize their space and equipment in a way that they may not have been able to handle on their own.

If you would like to learn more about site surveys and warehouse consultations, download our free E-book, “Making the Case for Warehouse Consultants.”



Posted by tfinco at 4/20/2020 7:34:00 PM
Sunday, January 19, 2020

Did you know the forklift’s forks don’t directly connect to the mast? They actually attach to a support platform called the forklift carriage. The carriage is important because it is used to mount objects, including forks, the load backrest, and attachments, to the mast chains, allowing loads to go up and down the mast channel.

Selecting a forklift with a dependable carriage is vital to the safety of all those who work in material handling environments and for the long-term efficiency of your operation. Any place where parts of industrial machinery are attached sets and not one piece should be top-of-mind for the product’s durability. The first step in assessing the forklifts that are currently or may eventually be a part of your fleet is having a clear understanding of what each part implies for your operation. This guide will help you understand both carriage height and what that height implies for your potential lifting capacity.

Identifying Forklift Carriage Class

Understanding your forklift’s carriage class is important because it helps you understand what forks and objects will work with your forklift. There are five carriage classes. Each class can be determined by the distance between the top edge of the upper fork bar and the bottom edge of the lower fork bar. The carriage class also gives you a good idea for the lifting capacity of your forklift. Here is the carriage class guideline breakdown:

Class 1

Carriage height: 13”

Lifting Capacity: Less than 2,200 lbs.

Class 2

Carriage height: 16”

Lifting Capacity: Between 2,200 lbs. and 5,500 lbs.

Class 3

Carriage height: 20”

Lifting Capacity: Between 5,500 lbs. and 10,998 lbs.

Class 4

Carriage height: 25”

Lifting Capacity: Between 11,000 lbs. and 17,600 lbs.

Class 5

Carriage height: 28.66”

Lifting Capacity: Between 17,602 lbs. and 24,198 lbs.

Using this guide, you can ask informed question from Dillon Toyota Lift in order to make sure you get the best carriage for your operational needs. Understanding carriage class can also help you get a clear understanding of your fork and attachment capabilities Keep in mind that the carriage’s capacity is only one part of the equation when it comes to your forklift’s lifting capabilities. Always rely on your forklift’s data plate for accurate capacity information based on the entire configuration.

Posted by tfinco at 1/19/2020 2:35:00 PM
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Let’s be honest. There are so many statistics and metrics involved with a forklift, it can be tough to understand what is what. There are tire types, mast types, various heights and dimensions that are all vital to know. Each of these needs consideration when considering what forklift is right for your operation.

One metric that is often overlooked is forklift free lift. A forklift’s free lift is the maximum height you can raise the forks without changing the mast height. There are two instances where this typically happens: when the inner mast rails extends past the outer mast rails or when the load backrest or carriage exceeds the height of the outer mast rails.

It is important to understand forklift free lift, especially if you are stacking or unstacking in confined spaces such as trailers, containers, and racking systems. These application have height restrictions and might cause product or equipment and possible safety concerns for operators or nearby pedestrians. There are two types of free lift a forklift can have: limited free lift or full free lift.

Forklift Free Lift – Limited Free Lift

When a forklift has limited free lift, it means that the inner mast rails will extend either immediately or shortly after lift is requested.  Limited free lift occurs with single-stage masts and two-stage masts with no free lift cylinder (see below on Full Free Lift). The amount of free lift can vary based on the condition and adjustment of the forklift’s lift chains as well as other factors such as fork thickness.

Forklift Free Lift – Full Free Lift

Full-free lift on a forklift means that the forks can be raised without immediately extending the inner mast channels. Full-free lift is available only on masts that have free lift cylinders. A free lift cylinder consists of a lift cylinder rod and assembly that is used to lift the carriage prior to the rear cylinders engaging.  This allows the carriage and forks to be lifted to a certain point prior to the inner mast rails. In many cases, you can get several feet of free lift depending on the mast design.

Full-free lift is helpful in areas where you need to lift a load, but have to be mindful of overhead obstructions.  Common areas where this is useful are for buildings with low ceiling heights and on trailers or box cars.


Original Post:  Kenny Trusnik, MArketing Systems & eCommerce Specialist, Toyota Material Handling, USA

Posted by tfinco at 1/14/2020 11:15:00 PM
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