ITAMCO Connects Forklifts to Industrial Internet of Things via Sensors and Software

A smart tablet, mounted in the front of the forklift, connects the truck to ITAMCO’s ERP system. The forklift also has a GPS.

A smart tablet, mounted in the front of the forklift, connects the truck to ITAMCO’s ERP system. The forklift also has a GPS.

February 1, 2016—Forklifts, the workhorses of the plant floor, are more valuable than ever at ITAMCO. The company has connected their forklifts to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—the integration of machinery and equipment with networked sensors and software.

ITAMCO is a manufacturer of precision-machined components, specializing in gears—from mining gearing to production runs of CBN-ground transmission gears. In 2012, ITAMCO implemented an MTConnect-enabled machine-monitoring program. After key pieces of machinery were connected to MTConnect and to their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, ITAMCO developed a communication system for their forklifts.

Now, as soon as a machine operator scans the barcode on a pallet, signifying the completion of the product cycle at his machine, a forklift operator and forklift are on their way to the machine. Each forklift is linked to ITAMCO’s ERP system through its GPS and an application on a smart tablet mounted in the forklift. Forklift operators are notified via their smart devices—employees use iPods, iPads and smartphones—when they’re needed. The communication system is so efficient it will summon the closest forklift to the machine. The forklift operator will also know how many pallets need to be moved and where they should be taken. If the product is being moved to another workstation, the workers in that area will be notified that the product is on its way.

“We developed the application because both of our facilities are rather large and forklift operators where always looking for forklifts to move their material but could never find one. Also, material would sit for hours at a machine, delaying the next operation. This application solved the problem by notifying a material handler as soon as the materials were ready to go to the next work area,” said Joel Neidig, an engineer and lead technology developer at ITAMCO. The system has been well received by the ITAMCO employees. “It has definitely helped me schedule the movement of materials from one work center to another,” said Arthur Doody, material handler at ITAMCO. 

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