Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has introduced two self-driving pallet trucks at its Dassenveld distribution centre in Halle.
The retailer believes the trucks will complement and facilitate the work of the employees at the facility.
Koen De Vos, director of supply chain at Colruyt Lowest Prices, said, "The SDVs (self-driving vehicles) help us move pallets within the distribution centre in Dassenveld, Halle. This allows employees to be deployed in more complex tasks or processes that require specific knowledge and skills."
The companies commenced the project two years ago with logistics employees at Colruyt providing extensive input during various testing phases.
The new self-driving vehicles recognise and process both euro and block pallets, the retailer added.
It has been designed to move palettes from the reception area to the correct location in the distribution centre, after which the orders for the stores can be picked up by the order pickers.
Jasper van Gool, programme manager at STILL Belgium stated, "The main advantage with these devices is that navigation does not require modifications to the existing structure such as reflectors, and the time to get a working truck deployed is much shorter. That has been reduced from weeks to a few days, just because they adapt so easily to new situations."
The vehicles are equipped with Lithium Titan Oxide batteries for optimised efficiency and robustness.
With faster and less frequent charging requirements, the batteries help in maximising productivity and keeping operational costs low.
The trucks identify their environment and the objects within using LIDAR (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) and SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) technology.
"We did not find a suitable truck on the market that met all our requirements," added Kim Vancauwenberghe of Colruyt Group Smart Technics.
"That's why we took on this challenge ourselves and worked out an initial solution with the help of The Flemish Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO)."