The supply chain industry needs automation that is easy to deploy to become more resilient and efficient, according to Big Joe Forklifts. The company is showing its latest Big Joe Pallet Mover at Booth N-10028 at PACK EXPO this week in Las Vegas.
“The global pandemic accelerated the need and uptake of autonomous vehicles, paving the way for the material handling industry to become educated on how simple, yet effective solutions could be every day, not just to solve its pain points during a crisis,” said Brendan Brett, the new director of strategic partnerships at Big Joe's Autonomous Division.
“I look forward to helping provide growth and development opportunities for our current fleet, as well as adding additional options for our customers as we continue to focus on innovation and automation,” he said in a release.
Big Joe Pallet Mover is user-directed
When Big Joe launched its Pallet Mover in the first quarter of 2023, the company claimed that it had created a new category of “user-directed” automation that is simple to deploy, doesn’t require extensive infrastructure, and brings immediate value to operations.
Big Joe developed its autonomous mobile robot (AMR) with Thoro.ai and is continuing to add features. The Pallet Mover provides floor-to-floor pallet transportation and drop-off, which the company claimed can be set up and running in less than an hour, it said.
The Big Joe Pallet Mover can travel to a destination and deliver pallets to preset locations. When the zone-drop feature is used, the AMR will take a load to a predefined area in a facility with multiple delivery locations.
It can place a pallet in the first open spot based on sequential order – even if the spots are not in one continuous row or adjacent to one another, the company explained. The Big Joe Pallet Mover includes lidar, an intuitive user interface, and a camera system to transport and drop pallets to locations once the operator selects a mission.
“This collaborative approach uses self-driving technology as a productivity force multiplier by allowing workers to focus on higher-value tasks or direct multiple independent workflows concurrently,” said Big Joe.
Dynamic rerouting and zone rules added
Big Joe said it has introduced dynamic rerouting, so the Pallet Mover can now autonomously navigate to a destination on an alternative path should an aisle or area of travel become blocked. This will improve the reliability for completing user-directed tasks, it said.
The Pallet Mover's user interface now includes visual maps so operators can now easily validate that they are sending the AMRs to their intended locations.
In addition, Big Joe said at PACK EXPO that it has updated the Pallet Mover with configurable zone rules. Users can configure areas in which the AMR must behave in a specified way.
Examples include lower-speed zones, continuous horn use areas, prohibited locations, and areas intended for automated side-by-side pallet unload.
Current pricing for the Pallet Mover is $65,000, plus tax, and freight per unit, inclusive of deployment, initial training, and a three-year autonomous software and support subscription.
New executive to build bridges
Big Joe said Brett will use the company's core strengths of developing affordable, reliable, easy to deploy and use autonomous vehicles to foster strategic partnerships around the material handling industry.
Brett studied supply chain management and information systems at Penn State and has 15 years of supply chain operations experience in the food and beverage industry.
Brendan Brett, new director of strategic partnerships at Big Joe's Autonomous Division
He was globally recognized by Nestle’s High Performance Logistics Team for projects such as setting up a configurable warehouse management system (WMS) fully integrated with mobile robots, semi-automated Pallet Mole systems, and Yard Management Systems software.
Brett said his vision is to evolve Big Joe’s roadmap ahead of market trends to sustain its competitive advantage throughout both its distribution and service network and those of partners.
“Big Joe is committed to bringing smart simple automation solutions to market, which by nature requires innovation and collaboration,” said Bill Pedriana, chief marketing officer at Big Joe. “We welcome Brendan and look forward to working together on helping others empower workers and eliminate the need for complicated systems integration.”
See Big Joe at PACK EXPO
In addition to its Big Joe Pallet Mover and new features including dynamic rerouting, onboard viewable maps, and configurable zone rules, the company is showing other vehicles from its lineup at Booth N-10028. They are suitable for supporting packaging operations in manufacturing, warehousing, or logistics environments, it said.
Big Joe will also demonstrate its PDSR Walkie Reach Truck, which features power steering and offers flexibility for materials handling. The company said its CB30/CB35 Counterbalanced Walkie Stackers will illustrate a safe and productive alternative to traditional rider forklifts, and the Big Joe J1 “Joey” Task Support Vehicle will show attendees how they might improve the performance of elevated work at their facilities.
For more than 70 years, Big Joe has supplied electric lift trucks to factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and storerooms around the world. The Wisconsin Dells, Wis.-based company said its walkie stackers, pallet trucks and access vehicles are known for their rugged, easy-to-use designs that provide a low-cost alternative to traditional forklifts.
Big Joe added that its new lithium-ion sit-down forklifts and AMRs empower workers with new, easy-to-use technologies “to both move more and hurt less.”
Editor's note: For more about PACK EXPO, visit Robotics 24/7's special coverage page.
Email Sign Up
Get news, papers, media and research delivered
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job.
Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7.
Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.