Order picking continues to be a key area in material handling, with a continuing demand for increased choice for consumers and competition amongst retailers.
As a result, the need for maximum efficiency, particularly in low-level operations, remains high. The latest range of low-level order picking trucks from Toyota Material Handling Europe (TMHE) sets new standards, not least because of the importance attached to the role of the operator within the order picking process.
The BT Optio L-series has been developed with clear objectives. Firstly, it has been designed to ensure that customers can select exactly the right forklift truck for the task, due to the wide variety of model configurations offered. Secondly, the trucks have been designed around a Smooth Operator concept, recognising the importance of the forklift operator’s role in order picking, and that the truck must offer the most efficient and effective ‘place of work’.
Toyota Material Handling Europe (TMHE) has a worldwide reputation for innovation in truck design, and the iF Design Awards have an international reputation for recognising industry-leading achievements. Unsurprisingly TMHE has been recognised for product design on a number of occasions, and for 2012, the BT Optio L-series is the latest winner. Entered in the category for special vehicles/construction/agriculture, the new order picking truck model was selected for an iF product design award from 2,923 entries.
A Wide Range of Models
Analysis of the order picking process often determines the most appropriate warehouse layout for order picking operations. The BT Optio L-series allows companies to select the best forklift to suit the preferred layout of their operation.
Time and productivity are key in high-pressure retail distribution systems, and TMHE have incorporated this into their order picking trucks. The standard low-lifting order picker model OSE250 offers fork lengths up to 3375 mm, and allows up to five roll cages to be carried at a time. This provides users with the ability to dramatically increase productivity levels due to the number of consignments that can be handled on a single order picking run.
Like all Optio L-series models, the OSE250 offers the option of an elevating driver platform to allow higher second level storage positions, and a new SureStep-up facility provides slip-free access to a wide picking platform over the motor compartment.
The Ergonomic Drive
Strain-related injury is now recognised as a risk if people are continually bending to place loads on low-level pallets. As a result of this, many companies are now opting for high-lifting forks to provide a more ergonomic working position, and some markets are even moving towards this becoming a legal requirement.
With this in mind, the new BT Optio L-series range offers several order picking models with truck forks that can be elevated to 800 mm. OSE120 models offer handling capacities of 1200kg, lifting to an ergonomic waist-height handling position. The heavy-duty OSE200X model provides the same ergonomic lifting facility plus longer forks and a 2000kg capacity, enabling up to four roll cages to be handled on a single consignment, with all of the benefits of ergonomic waist-height handling.
The range is completed by models that can provide second-level picking with walk-through facility, giving the truck operator clear access to the load carrier.
Unique Model for Load Replenishment
The variation of forklift models available in the BT Optio L-series range is clearly seen with the OSE120CB. Essentially a low-level order picking truck, this machine is equipped with a mast and counterbalance-style chassis configuration. During an order picking run the truck can be used to place and retrieve goods at higher levels, reflecting the way that most order picking operations work. This truck can handle loads to heights just over four metres providing exceptional versatility in operation.
Smooth Operator Concept
At the heart of any order picking operation is the person involved in the process. For this reason, the new BT Optio L-series range is developed around a Smooth Operator concept which is designed to provide the best working conditions, and there are a number of important elements within this concept, including the low step-in height and the option of a new Frequency-Adapted Suspension (FAS) system developed by TMHE. Recognising the fact that forklift vibrations vary according to working conditions, FAS delivers a new standard of vibration cushioning in truck operations.
This new range of forklift trucks incorporates Toyota’s E-man control system to allow easy and effortless driving. The electronic steering arm can be positioned according to driving conditions, and can be elevated when working at second level so the truck can be driven without the need to return to ground level. The controls can also be moved to the side, so that the operator can advance the truck forward whilst walking alongside it; this assures safety by reducing the steering angle.
Under the Smooth Operator concept, efficient administration – essential in order picking operations – is also covered. This is clearly seen in the design of the BT Optio L-series. The trucks feature several storage compartments in and around the truck, as well as the optional Toyota E-bar that allows easy mounting of ancillary equipment, such as computers, scanners, and even shrink-wrap holders.
Performance and Reliability
The new BT Optio L-series range is equipped with powerful AC motors to ensure high levels of acceleration and maximum travel speed. The new order picking trucks are manufactured at TMHE’s Swedish production facilities according to Toyota Production System standards, ensuring the highest quality and reliability in operation.