The term “Smart” in front of any noun has become the new standard for referring to the latest technological advancements in cars, phones, even hospital beds, but what about forklifts?  Thanks to a convergence of modern data collection technologies forklifts are evolving from warehouse workhorses into data collection Divas.

Here are 5 key areas to consider when we talk about the evolution to Smart Forklifts.

jungheinrich lift Forklift Manufacturers

Many players answer the call for electric vs. gas, stationary vs. mobile, and manned vs. unmanned. They all supply the basic functionality of a powered industrial “truck” used to lift and move materials short distances.   Companies participating in this market include Crown, Raymond, Jungheinrich, Hyster, and Toyota.

One of the largest in North America is Glacier Computer alliance partner Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America ( MCFA) distributors of CAT, Jungheinrich, and Mitsubishi forklifts; and their subsidiary Rapid Parts, a provider of aftermarket lift parts.

Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA) is a leading manufacturer and distributor of forklifts in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, the company distributes three distinct brands – Mitsubishi forklift trucks, Cat® lift trucks and Jungheinrich® warehouse products.  –MCFA

Forklift manufacturers, evolving to meet customer needs, create the foundation upon which smart forklifts are created.


Vehicle Management Systems (VMS )

Vehicle management is a key to productivity and safety.  VMS systems can track the internal operations of a lift, even locating a lift within the warehouse, as well as store maintenance records, driving habits, and warranty information.

A VMS can be used to monitor inventory and asset management.  And any discussion about meeting OSHA requirements or improving safety in the operation should include a long look at the Vehicle Management Systems available.   Companies like ID Systems, Keytroller, and TotalTrax provide systems and support to companies looking to embrace VMS on the way to building a Smart Lift fleet.

Glacier Alliance partner TotalTrax, Inc. …

… is the leading provider of real time vehicle, driver and inventory tracking technologies for manufacturing and warehouse operations. Offering a complete technology platform that transforms traditional material handling vehicles into “smart trucks”

Data Collection Peripherals

There are a myriad of peripheral products used on or in association with the lift that have become the tools of data collection.  Information is gathered from the lift and distributed through or for each enterprise.  To do this the lift is equipped with a variety of hardware from RFID readers, scanners, scales, and printers, to converters, all built-in or connected to a vehicle mounted computer that is using warehouse management software (WMS).

Over 50% of all supply chain companies today exist to support data collection or Smart Lift technology. –Ron D’Ambrosio – President, Glacier Computer

Vehicle Mounted Terminals (VMT)

The device that gathers all the data, and communicates that information to other parts of the company, is the computer mounted to the lift or the VMT.   The VMT supplies a wide open environment for customizations to meet the specific data collection needs of every business.

The newest VMT Everest VMT on Forklifttechnology is made to collect equipment and safety data from a VMS,  operational data collected through a WMS, and any other PC driven processes a business requires (including the enhanced portability of a uncheckable device where needed),and then not only disseminate that information in whatever manner the operation requires, but provide the flexibility to change or expand any or all aspects of the data-collection and dissemination process.

There are a variety of participants in this sector of the market: Motorola, Honeywell,  Dap,  Xplore, and Glacier Computer.

“With the influx of rugged tablets as a platform for data collection, Glacier Computer is one of the last remaining manufacturers who continues to focus on the demand for forklift mounted computer terminals.”  –-Dan Poisson – Engineering, Glacier Computer

Data Coordinator

The Data coordinator relies on the VMT, complete with the necessary software and peripherals, as their primary data collection tool.  This “Smartlift” Coordinator is now the quarterback,  armed with  insights into all curriculums,  and capable of carrying out business decisions not just on data collection but also on delivery.

This is the “Intelligent Forklift.”

The forklift workhorse gathers data  but that data then needs to be delivered to several different departments within the customer’s operation.  The material handling departments are interested in the Product Data.  The Vehicle data may be of interest to the safety department or operations.  The intelligent forklift creates the opportunity to collect and disseminate information to every department that needs it in a manner that instructs them on the state of operations relevant to their responsibilities.

Swisslog is one company that has found a means of capturing both data resources of VMS and VMT and delivering it to the customer in their preferred manner.

We evaluate logistical flow to help you eliminate unnecessary activities that provide little or no added valued. We also review and analyze performance data to help you design processes that streamline picking, enable just-in-time inventory and reduce waiting times at staging areas.Most importantly, by optimizing your warehouse management system with intelligent functionality, you can make your warehouse more dynamic and flexible – for today and tomorrow. –Swisslog

Intelligent Forklift

Glacier VMT’s:

No product better represents Glacier’s rugged computer and rugged tablet expertise and experience than the forklift-mounted computer. Years of development and attention to customer feedback have yielded the reliable, adaptable forklift computer systems that provide maximum efficiency for warehouse operations and any other place a lift may be used. The more challenging the environment, the more reason to use a Glacier Computer rugged computer.

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