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What Type, Size of Tugger Do You Need?

Your employees don’t have to be superheroes in order to move loads weighing thousands of pounds. They don’t necessarily need forklifts, either. While lift trucks will continue to be essential in many industrial facilities, battery-operated electric tuggers are increasingly being added to the material moving lineup. Also known as pedestrian tuggers and powered tuggers, tuggers enable a single operator – one with no superpowers whatsoever – to easily push and pull heavy wheeled loads weighing tons. Walk-behind tuggers are only one type; innovation has produced options that allow managers to choose what is best for their operations. There are remote control tuggers that give operators lots of flexibility and autonomous guided vehicle (AGV)-type tuggers that don’t need operators at all. The latter are computer-controlled and have programmable sensors that can detect obstacles (including pedestrians) that are in the tugger’s path. They can save time by being programmed to follow routine paths.

Tuggers are used in warehousing, retail, healthcare, pharmaceutical, aerospace, supermarkets, energy, airports, construction, agriculture, landscaping, manufacturing, food, waste handling, automotive to move waste bins, luggage trolleys, top soil, building materials, sand, construction debris, gravel, wind turbines, wet concrete, modular building components, boats, wire reels, and much, much more.

In addition to being able to move large, heavy and awkward loads with ease, tuggers offer a variety of other benefits:

  • They help companies cope with workforce shortages by reducing the need for manpower.
  • They increase productivity and operational efficiency.
  • They can maneuver in tight spaces and around corners.
  • When overhead space is limited, they can take over the material moving tasks of overhead cranes.
  • Their use enhances safety by reducing the risk to pedestrians in congested areas and preventing the operator from experiencing the kinds of muscle strain that can lead to ergonomic injuries.
  • Air in interior workspaces is healthier because tuggers have zero emissions.
  • Unlike forklift drivers, tugger operators do not need to have licenses.
  • Tuggers require minimal operator training.

What to Consider When Choosing a Tugger

Consulting with a reputable tugger manufacturer can help you identify your particular needs and help you select tuggers that will be optimal for your material handling tasks. Factors that should be considered include:

Towing capacity – The maximum load weight will determine how much power will be needed to push, pull and stop the tugger. Extra heavy loads will require a heavy-duty tugger with a high-capacity battery.

  • Loads of up to 13,200 lbs. can be managed with compact electric tuggers
  • Loads of up to 66,000 lbs. can generally be moved by performance electric tuggers
  • Loads of up to 792,000 lbs. call for performance plus electric tuggers

Battery – The battery life will depend upon load weight, route, usage and environmental factors. Some models have an on-board charger, which makes it possible to use the tugger for longer periods of time.

Environment – Will the tugger be used indoors, outdoors or both? Will it be subjected to extreme temperatures? Hazardous conditions in which flammable gases, vapors, or airborne liquids are present?

Steep slopes – Moving heavy loads on steep slopes reduces the tugger’s maximum load capacity, so a powerful tugger will be necessary.

Floor or ground surface type – These should be factored into the selection process as well. Will the tugger be navigating over factory floors or through the kind of rough, uneven terrain found in construction sites?

Types of couplings – A load must be connected to the tugger with a coupling. Working with a tugger manufacturer will help you decide which ones are best for your applications. Do you need a rigid connection? A coupling that will remain secure on rough terrain? One that can be used with many different drawbars and towing arms? There are many different types of couplings, including pin, box, channel and hydraulic clamp couplings. Some manufacturers will customize couplings, as well.

Safety features – Ask about the safety-related features that are available. Adjustable speed controls and an emergency stop button are ideal for high-traffic facilities. Audible alerts can amp up the safety factor, as can an anti-crush button and ergonomic handles.

Tire types – The weight and size of what will be towed and the surfaces over which it will be towed will determine which kind of tire is right for your needs. Pneumatic tires are standard for tuggers, but there are also foam filled, solid rubber and solid rubber non-marking tires.

Still not sure that you are making the right choice when it comes to a tugger? Some distributors offer demos, so that you can test the efficacy of a particular model in your real-world environment.

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