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MATERIALS HANDLING & STORAGE GLOSSARY: RAIL VS WIRE GUIDANCE

By: Eastern Lift Truck Co., Inc. August 24, 2022

Available new warehouse space continues to be limited and expensive. One solution has been for warehouses to shrink their aisle widths and replace traditional forklifts with narrow aisle reach forklifts. Other warehouses, with high ceilings, reduce their aisles even more and introduce very narrow aisle (VNA) forklifts, such as order pickers and turret trucks. Some trucks work in aisle less than six feet wide. 

In order for VNA forklifts to perform in such tight aisles, a rail or wire guidance system is installed. These systems free the forklift operators from the need to steer and allows them to focus on order picking. The result is increased productivity, reduced product and rack damage, and fewer operator injuries. 

Rail guidance systems utilize physical rail, one on each side of the aisle. The forklift is equipped with guide rollers and sensor to keep it centered and within the rails. 

Wire guidance systems are a bit more elaborate. They involve embedding a wire in the floor, in the middle of the aisle, where the forklift works. The cut in the floor is sealed with epoxy. A line driver unit (LDU) sends a low voltage radio frequency (FR) along the wire, which is picked up by the forklift and used to guide it down the aisle. Operation ceases when the forklift moves away from the wired path. 

The installation of a guidance system requires a flat floor, free of excessive cracks.

 We suggest equipping new VNA forklifts with the Smart-Steer™ option. It provides automatic return-to-center when the handle is released, making it safer and easier to move the guided to non-guided spaces. 

Contact your local Eastern Lift Truck Co. Account Manager to discuss your operations and to perform a free analysis to find out what best fits your application needs.

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