Lead Forensics

Innovations add features to storage trolleys

Storage trolleys may be simple technology, but over the years there have been new innovations that add more features to this humble appliance.

A basic trolley is simply a platform on wheels with a handle to pull or push it. Companies with large warehouses like Tesco, Amazon and Morrisons rely on storage trolleys to store and move goods. Amazon and Ocado have introduced robots in the workplace, but these work alongside humans and have not completely replaced storage trolleys.

As online orders have increased, manufacturers have stepped up their storage trolley production to meet high demands. Most trolleys are variations on standard predecessors, including tote trolleys, box trolleys and picking trolleys. Like all technology, there have been innovations that have added more functions to trolleys.

Pushback trolleys

Many warehouses have rows about four deep to hold flat trolleys stacked with pallets. When the front trolley is removed, the trolley further back needs to be pulled forward. When all the pallets and storage trolleys have been removed, an empty trolley has to be placed at the rear of the row and a forklift truck drives into the row with loaded pallets.

A new system uses fairly standard trolleys, but the rows are on a small gradient. When a front storage trolley is removed, the trolley behind it moves forward through gravity. A stop post prevents the trolley leaving the row. When stacking an empty trolley, the forklift driver pushes the trolley back using a new empty trolley without having to drive into the row.

Using gravity to move trolleys is a simple but elegant solution to efficiently store palleted goods, especially as the storage trolleys do not have to be complex variations on standard trolleys.

Trolleys that monitor workers’ health

Warehouses have to comply with strict health and safety standards when using storage trolleys. Regulations cover safe pushing, pulling and lifting of goods. Walmart, the US retail giant, has filed a patent for a trolley with biometric handles that monitor the user’s heart rate, temperature and stress levels. This is designed to alert staff if a customer is in distress, but the technology could be used to monitor workers’ health and advise them to take a break if they become overexerted from pushing and pulling trolleys.

Storage trolleys manufacturers make storage trolleys suitable for a wide range of uses, but bespoke storage trolleys can use technology to add features that make trolleys more versatile.

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