Easy-to-deploy automation and responsive support drives positive customer experience
Big Joe Forklifts’ first commercial autonomous mobile robot (AMR), the Pallet Mover, was introduced to the public yesterday at ProMat 2023 and is now concluding field trials. Rave reviews from initial customer sites are now coming in as pre-release testing at customer locations across the U.S. wraps up. Initial reviews of this unique AMR suggest that the Big Joe team is onto something special with its user-directed approach to automation. Field trials, which began in October of 2022 and concludes March 2023, incorporated 11 unique customer locations running alpha and beta builds of the Pallet Mover in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution environments.
Timothy Ford and Derek Smith of Team Modern pre-release testing the Pallet Mover AMR.
“The Big Joe Pallet Mover is a great way to get started in autonomous material handling for simple repetitive tasks,” Plastic Ingenuity Production Engineer Camden Stoppleworth said. “This machine is very easy to program, use and reprogram for different tasks, all from the user interface located on the machine. Big Joe’s Pallet Mover does a great job at reducing the distance walked and time wasted by a person moving pallets from one location to another.”
Developed in partnership with Thoro.ai, the Big Joe Pallet Mover is an easy-to-deploy autonomous solution for floor-to-floor pallet transportation and drop-off that companies can set up and put into operation in less than one hour. The Pallet Mover is perfect for ‘in-between’ tasks, which can help reduce the time and effort required for material transport within a facility, and allow material handlers to focus on more value-added, complex tasks that require their skills and expertise.
“The Big Joe staff was very accommodating and easy to work with through the entire process,” said Eric Wolfe of Watts Water, a leading manufacturer of water quality systems participating in pre-release testing. “From the initial conversations, we were provided with all necessary materials to ensure that this project was a success. The setup process involved two members of the Big Joe team coming to our facility to instruct on how to use the autonomous pallet jack. Within two days, we felt comfortable deploying the pallet jack into new use cases. When deploying a robotic system, it is expected that there will be some challenges and setbacks along the way. Based on this experience, those challenges were limited and met with prompt troubleshooting to generate solutions. The mapping and programming process makes it very easy to change the functionality of the robot to meet our changing business needs and the customizability of the solution allows for unlimited potential within our warehouse. Overall, we are very happy with both the technology and service from the Big Joe team!”
The Big Joe Pallet Mover does not require Wi-Fi to operate and can be quickly and easily deployed into production or warehouse environments, as many pre-release customers acknowledge the benefits of the seamless deployment into their operations.
“The Pallet Mover can be thought of as a “water spider,” which is a crucial role in Lean Logistics and Manufacturing, where the goal is to eliminate waste and increase efficiency in the process,” Automation Division General Manager of Big Joe, Nick Malewicki said. “If a customer has different throughput requirements based on the shift schedule, the Big Joe Pallet Mover can help eliminate potential bottlenecks since it does not require a fixed path for navigation.
“The project vision was clear: develop an autonomous pallet mover that has groundbreaking versatility to handle a huge variety of workflows, can map a warehouse in minutes and with simple training,” said CEO of Thoro.ai, Patrick Mondi. “Both Big Joe and Thoro embraced this vision, and the end result speaks for itself – our confidence in the Pallet Mover led to the bold move of launching it by allowing people to use it at ProMat.”
In additional to the Pallet Mover’s unique ability to quickly map a warehouse, the AMR has obstacle avoidance and navigational logic to choose a path that is most efficient. Customers can create a “zone” of drop positions, enabling the Pallet Mover to pick a drop position based on its occupied or unoccupied status and set priority. Demonstrated through pre-release customer reviews, this unit has shown the ability to overcome gaps in operation that typically occur where automation is involved. The Pallet Mover creates a seamless automation value stream, without the need for expensive development to connect the systems. There are no other simple plug-and-play solutions of this type available on the market today.
“I am excited to be part of the development with Big Joe and Thoro on their autonomous pallet jack,” said Derek Smith of Team Modern, a wholesale distribution company also participating in pre-release testing. “It is very exciting to see two companies partner together and witness great results. Both companies have been great with customer service to help improve and shape their product to become useful in this demanding market. I can’t wait to see more of their developments in the future.”
To learn more, or to test drive the Big Joe Pallet Mover AMR at your facility, contact Big Joe or your local dealer for more information.
About Big Joe
For more than 70 years, Big Joe electric forklifts have been the standard of quality in factories, warehouses, DCs and storerooms across the USA and around the world. Big Joe’s walkie stackers, pallet trucks and access vehicles are well known for their rugged, easy-to-use designs that provide a low-cost alternative to traditional forklifts. Big Joe’s new lithium-ion sit-down forklifts and autonomous mobile robots carry forward the legacy of the brand by empowering workers with new technologies in a simple and intuitive way to both move more and hurt less.
For more information, visit bigjoeforklifts.com or follow us on social media.
Thoro delivers autonomous mobile robotics safely, quickly, and across different verticals. It starts with the Thoro autonomy stack consisting of world-class autonomy software, highly customizable cloud reporting tools, and advanced hardware. For manufacturers who build equipment performing manual, repetitive tasks, Thoro can provide custom solutions to add autonomy to your product line. In addition to our work with Big Joe, Thoro is well established in the cleaning space with global equipment manufacturer Nilfisk, where our tech works on its innovative SC50 floor scrubber in environments spanning retail, education, health care, airports, event centers and others around the world. For more information, visit Thoro.ai.
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Master Plan Communications, Inc.