Because reducing warehouse aisles to a minimum, enables warehouse operators to make maximum use of their storage space, Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) technology is adopted at many UK warehouses and distribution centres.
Now, thanks to the development of automated and semi-automated VNA solutions based on standard truck design and the scalability and flexibility they offer, more companies are evaluating the significant benefits that can be realized by automating the VNA truck.
Steve Richmond, director of Jungheinrich UK Ltd’s Systems & Projects Division, believes that there is a compelling commercial argument for considering automated and semi-automated technology at those facilities where manually operated VNA trucks are in use.
“By using an ‘automation option’ it is straightforward to adapt production line trucks to become fully automated,” says Steve Richmond.
“Today we can start with a standard VNA truck with wire guidance and transponder technology and, by introducing additional sensors, automation controls and an interface to the warehouse management system, the truck becomes fully automated,” says Steve Richmond.
“This approach makes automation scalable. Trucks can be supplied as manual machines, upgraded to semi-automated vehicles and ultimately to fully automated systems as the client’s requirements change.
“However, as with any automation project, it is important to ensure that the system is planned and designed by a company experienced in automation and integration as the legislation and working practices for automated VNA trucks differ significantly from manual operations.
“Design, safety and system integration must be treated as an integrated project – not just a truck supply contract. Jungheinrich is perfectly positioned to provide this entire end to end design and implementation process to our customers.”