Working at a warehouse or factory without a forklift is now possible with HUBMASTER® semi-automatic systems.


We will present the case of a leading manufacturer of personal hygiene products, which has chosen to implement a semi-automatic HUBMASTER® system in its raw material warehouse for plastic injection. Now this manufacturer can rest easy, since his operators now possess the best tool for working in very narrow aisles (of only 1.75 m) and in a reduced environment, in which the risk of collision with both stored products and loads is reduced. In addition, the HMWare ™ by HUBMASTER® warehouse management software ensures quick and easy product identification without errors.


Forklifts are vehicles and require good operators to avoid accidents and damage, both to materials and to people, which in a warehouse can be catastrophic.


In some industries or production environments, the use of forklifts has been totally prohibited or drastically reduced due to the risks they entail in the workplace, and it has become necessary to look for alternatives. One of these options is to automate the warehouse so that the machines work without staff, but the investment is not always justified.


On the one hand, the industry has offered operators continuous training and safety improvements and tools have been added over time to evaluate their driving. On the other hand, manufacturers continue to add passive safety elements, such as reinforced passenger compartments and integral seat belts, which avoid the risk of the driver being thrown out of the vehicle or crushed by it or its load. There are also other presence warning systems, such as blue light beams to warn workers on foot of the presence, direction, and progress of the vehicle.


However, the accident rate continues to be high. Accidents due to forklift overturning, either due to improper loading, or due to poor ground conditions or obstacles on the way, are confirmed as one of the main causes of occupational accidents.


Bridge cranes are still widely used as an alternative in production for lifting and transporting materials in a warehouse, but they present a clear limitation: they can only stack products one on top of the other, thus losing individual accessibility to the loads stored. Also, valuable volume space is often wasted due to load stacking limitations.


The HUBMASTER® semi-automatic system have been in constant evolution since 2008 when they were used as manually operated stacker cranes and were initially conceived as an evolution to bridge cranes and an alternative to warehouse forklifts. After many years of continuous development, the system now offers assistance to the operator for the correct load identification, safe handling, and integration with the HMWare ™ management system.


The HUBMASTER® semi-automatic system rests directly on the racks, moves and displaces itself without touching the floor, and its design prevents it from tipping over. In addition, today it benefits from a semi-automatic management by means of [PLC] Programmable Logic Controller, which provides zone control and supervises all of the operator's movements. The programming of movements and safety zones allows any worker with minimal training to use it without any risk.


The operator is positioned on a floating platform, just inches above the floor, and located on board of the hanging mast. The driving is facilitated by two joysticks that control all forward, lifting, and rotating movements. The operator is assisted by position indicators on the display that validate the aisle position and pallet location, and the system movements are integrated to the warehouse management software to avoid errors. A camera at the operator's viewing height allows him to confirm the safety and location of the merchandise, at all times.


The HUBMASTER® Handling & Storage Solutions System responds to a market demand for the management of loads in the warehouse or factory when there is a need or desire to avoid the use of the forklift due to all the risks it entails. In addition, it represents a great alternative to 100% automatic systems, when load management or system productivity do not justify a greater investment in automation.


HUBMASTER® Handling & Storage Solutions is a manufacturer of automatic storage systems with prestigious international projects, which follows an investment policy focused in R&D and the development of new solutions.