Elevate Your Material Handling with Smart Attachments, Forks, and Accessories

Posted by on 06/14/2023

In today's fast-paced world of logistics and manufacturing, efficiency and productivity are crucial to success. As companies adapt to the latest handling trends—including an exploding AGV/AGF market and the drive toward automating supply chains—one thing stands out: smart attachments. 

User-friendly smart attachments and technologies not only allow your lift truck to perform a wider range of tasks more efficiently, but they also help mitigate product damage by utilizing data and sensors to automatically position an attachmentapply clamp force, and more. Along with damage reductions, integrating smart technologies with forklift and AGV forks and attachments allows for a more complete set of telematics, supporting predictive maintenance that keeps your equipment functioning at its best and lowering long-term operational costs.

“There are many ‘smart’ products out there, but Cascade stands apart from the rest by providing the customization and support that customers need,” says Rick Whiting, Head of Global Product Management at Cascade Corporation. “At Cascade, we have the unique ability to customize our attachments for any application and scale—from one AGV environment to hundreds of forklifts. Our industry-leading ‘glocal’ support model combines our global resources and manufacturing presence with accessible, local assistance to ensure customer success.”

In this article, we will explore some smart solutions from Cascade and some real-world applications of our products successfully integrating into everyday operations.

Sensor Forks

Cascade Sensor Forks are perfect for fast-paced e-commerce applications and warehouse environments where ultimate visibility is needed. These forks come with a built-in digital camera and sensor package, providing the driver with incredible visibility of fork placement, even under low-light conditions. 

How does it work? A high-quality video is transmitted via Wi-Fi from the tip of the fork to an in-cab display. Along with the camera, signals from sensors detect objects above the forks (as well as proximity to the load), giving drivers added information to precisely lift and deposit loads. All wires run inside the fork, so no external, over-the-mast wiring or cable reel is required. This next-level handling awareness helps operators eliminate overdriving loads, reducing the risk of fork punctures and costly product damage. 

“One of our customers in Italy works with pallets of coffee boxes in a high-racking warehouse environment,” Rick Whiting explains. “Before Sensor Forks, their driver had to strain to see loads for picking. Now, using our Sensor Forks, their forklift driver can easily see loads and fork pockets on those higher racks, allowing them to line up their forks for perfect pallet picking and eliminating product damage due to misalignment.”

Sensor Forks connect to the display using Wi-Fi and incorporate crosstalk protection that allows for 25+ units to be used at a single site without signal interruption. A hard-wired version is also available for environments that aren't compatible with Wi-Fi systems. Camera Forks, which offer the same great visual display without sensor capabilities, are also available.

Mobile Weighing Products

Cascade ActivWeighTM  

Available as an integral or hang-on unit, this carriage-based scale integrates “Weigh-In-Motion” capabilities with sideshifting and fork positioning functionality, all packaged in one compact design. It allows forklift operators to easily approach a load, adjust the fork spacing, lift, and immediately weigh the load while the forklift is in motion. Weight data is automatically transmitted via Bluetooth to a truck-mounted display. From the display, data can be communicated wirelessly to a Warehouse Management System or connected to a local terminal for analysis and further optimization. 

ActivWeigh™ offers accurate weight measurements for off-center loads, providing streamlined operation with an incredibly thin profile that maximizes the net truck capacity. ActivWeigh™ is equipped with a standard carriage on the front side to accept forks and most Cascade Attachments. So, if you are loading or unloading using a Cascade attachment such as a Push-Pull or Single Double, there is no need for a floor scale, just use those units with Cascade ActivWeighTM.

Cascade Weigh Forks 

Mobile weighing is a great way to improve efficiency without making major adjustments to your operation. Cascade Weigh Forks save time and money by combining transport and weighing into one easy step. From managing incoming goods to shipping, Weigh Forks improve productivity whenever you would otherwise need to take extra time driving to a floor scale. To ensure efficient mobile weighing for any application, Weigh Fork models are available for use with Rotators, Fork Positioners, and Order Pickers. The digital Weigh Forks display offers numerous functions, including piece counting, load tracking, and custom functionality.

How does this look in practice? “One customer in a warehouse application needed a way to easily ensure that drivers were loading order picker carts or pallets to their desired weights,” Whiting says. “So, our custom solutions team developed an alert system that sounds when a cart or pallet’s weight reaches a predetermined value specified by the user. These customized Weigh Forks offer a simple way to validate weight accuracy while picking orders, requiring little driver input.”

Cascade Electrix™: All-Electric Solutions  

Innovating in step with the growing trend in automation, Cascade continues to develop all-electric solutions from our Cascade Electrix™ line, including Multiple Load Handlers, Sideshifters, and all-electric masts from Lift-Tek, a subsidiary of Cascade. These products are energy efficient, eliminate the risk of hydraulic leaks, and are ideal for AGV applications. Along with eliminating hydraulic leaks, all-electric actuation lowers your total system cost by removing hydraulic components (like the pump motor, oil reservoir, and hoses) from the equation. Currently, Cascade is the only attachment provider that can offer fully customized, all-electric, hybrid, or hydraulic front-end solutions for AGVs and forklifts.

“Decreasing energy consumption is a must for companies looking to lower costs, especially in AGV/AGF environments,” Whiting says. “Our all-electric solutions from the Cascade Electrix line of attachments maximize energy efficiency and can be up to 90% more efficient than hydraulic units in the same class.”

The all-electric system also offers integrated sensors built into the actuators, which can provide data feedback and communication to enhance AGV and AGF applications. Data—such as actuator cycle counts, utilization rates and positioning information—can be transmitted to truck telematics systems, where it can be utilized for predictive maintenance and more.

HFC for Carton Clamps 

Hydraulic Force Control (HFC) is one of our operator-friendly and hands-free damage reduction solutions. “We can apply this accessory to most clamping products, and it automatically adjusts the clamping force based on a product’s weight,” Whiting explains. The operator simply engages the load with one pull of the hydraulic lever, lifts the load, and instantaneously, the pressure is increased to an optimal pressure for the product. “No additional operator input is necessary.”

HFC automates clamp force entirely, enabling operators to work quickly and confidently no matter the load. It also allows operators to alternate seamlessly between handling various products like electronics that need to be handled with care and large, heavy items that require a higher clamp force.

Speak to a Cascade Representative Today

Need a smart solutions partner for your material handling? Think Cascade.

Investing in smart forklift attachments and accessories is a surefire way to increase your company's productivity and efficiency. Cascade makes it easy with innovative solutions that improve your handling capabilities, streamline your processes, and reduce damage. By adopting these smart attachments and technologies, you can make the most of your existing forklifts or AGVs and enhance their performance to meet your unique needs. 

Cascade is here to provide the latest smart solutions and support you in your quest for more productive and efficient material handling.