Pack Mule Blog

Pack Mule Burden Carrier Tugger Warehouse Vehicle

Relentless Competition

As MHI’s US Roadmap notes, material handling is big business, making up about 8.5% of the country’s gross domestic product. And, as it also notes, that kind of money attracts competition. Nowhere except at industry association meetings is the attitude of “there’s enough for everyone” even voiced, much less believed. A half-century ago, there was generally enough for everyone, and competition was much more limited and much more genteel.

The kind of competition found in business-to-business and business-to-consumer distribution today is very different, and the companies that are growing are learning to refine their processes to meet ever-increasing customer demands. And their growth is coming largely from the customers of companies who are not responding effectively to the change. Relentless competition is good news for some companies; very bad news for others.

Pack Mule Industrial Electric Towing CartsPack Mule provides end-to-end solutions for horizontal material handling with a full line of industrial electric vehicles and quad wheel and six wheel center steer trailers.

As a manufacturer serving these companies, Pack Mule is called on to help its customers deal with the new levels of urgency, the need for innovation, and the constant demand for expense reduction.  The paradoxical “doing-more-with-less” concept is at the center of our customers’ lean manufacturing.

Focusing on Our Users

The fact that Pack Mule is the fastest growing brand in our industry is evidence that we are effectively meeting our customers’ needs. We’ve had to learn to think differently, and it’s worked. Here are some of the things that Pack Mule brings to the relationship:

  • Our three-year warranty, the only one in the industry, is important protection for the customer. But it goes further than that. It documents how we build our machines. Downtime is expensive; so as far as possible, our engineers design downtime out of the machine: longer lasting batteries, stronger frames and bodies, more robust steering components, more precise controllers. If something goes wrong with a Pack Mule vehicle, our warranty is there. But we go to great lengths to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
  • It doesn’t make sense for any industrial electric vehicle manufacturer to claim that it has the broadest line of industrial electric vehicles any more. The variations required by materials handling systems exceed even the broadest line of standard vehicles. Because of that, we work from the customer’s application back, fitting our machine to the customer’s need rather than asking the customer to fit the need to the machine. With the Pack Mule stock chaser, for instance, there are more than 6400 permutations that we know about, and there will be more as our customers present us with new challenges.
  • Nobody wants to wait anymore; so we’ve cut the lead time required for fully configured vehicles to a fraction of the competition. Instead of waiting eight weeks or more to get the vehicles that implement their solutions, we ship most orders in between 48 hours and three weeks.
  • Preventive maintenance takes machines out of service and increases expenses. Pack Mule continues to find innovative ways to cut down on maintenance. Sealed transaxles. Solid—but comfortable—tires. Batteries that require no maintenance and can be charged at any convenient opportunity.

Relentless competition is a good news/bad news proposition. It’s good news for the people who deal with it best. Those are the customers we like—the ones who always want it better.

See how Pack Mule stacks up against the competition by visiting PackMule.com and clicking on Compare. This provides a point-by-point look at Pack Mule and competitive vehicles. However, because competition is relentless, Pack Mule will provide fully configured vehicles to be compared working in your location.

Pack Mule’s Standard 245 Amp/Hour Batteries Deliver Longer Run Time

One of the primary drivers of industrial electric vehicle productivity is runtime between charges. The longer the vehicle runs before being taken out of service to charge the batteries, the more the vehicle can do. That’s the reason Pack Mule provides the highest standard amp/hour batteries in the industry.

Currently, all providers of industrial electric vehicles stock their base model units with lead acid batteries, and Pack Mule is no different; they simply are the most cost-effective, dependable solution at this time. There are, however, many different types of lead acid batteries, and for each different type, there is a level of capacity. At 245 amp/hour, it is safe to refer to the batteries as “high capacity,” and Pack Mule refuses to stock their units with anything less (as opposed to some competitors that use batteries as low as 186 amp/hour).

Pack Mule Industrial Electric Vehicle Batteries

With standard 245 amp/hour batteries, Pack Mule vehicles deliver 20% to 50% more runtime than the competitions’ standard batteries.

Click Here to Compare Pack Mule Industrial Electric Vehicles with Competitor Products

Technically, amps per hour (or more technically, amperes per hour) is the current flow in amperes multiplied by the time in hours of discharge.  Practically, it’s a shorthand notation that tells you what to expect in terms of run time. The greater the amp/hour, the longer the runtime, all other factors being equal.

Pack Mules 245 amp/hour batteries have the highest rating in the industry. Competitors’ standard batteries, according to their published specifications, run from 185 amp/hours to 220. Pack Mule competitors do offer a high capacity battery option, but usually at an upgrade $1,000 or more.

We believe that high capacity batteries on every Pack Mule vehicle not only improve productivity, but also lower the life-cycle cost of the vehicle since lower capacity batteries will need to be replaced sooner.  Replacing batteries is both expensive and time consuming.

Pack Mule’s higher capacity batteries, coupled with Pack Mule’s regenerative braking and 90 psi tires, provide runtimes 20% to 50% longer than others. In fact, in a head-to-head field test, Pack Mule ran 50% longer than the comparable Taylor-Dunn vehicle.

Pack Mule Electric PMT-5000 Electric Tugger Cart Towing a Train of Trailers

Toward an Efficiently Integrated Horizontal Transport System

In too many companies, trailers are the red-headed step-children of both logistics planning and budgeting. Powered vehicles are more expensive, and they’re generally more high tech; so that’s where most of the thinking goes.

The result is that the contributions that trailers can make toward making material handling less expensive, more efficient, safer, and easier to maintain are often overlooked. This short series of articles, beginning with determining the need and ending with measuring the effects of the solution, will, we hope, help those responsible for planning and budgeting material handling make informed decisions regarding the place of trailers in their system.

In working with customers, we’ve seen a lot of things that make us think that these informed decisions are really important. In one plant, for instance, we saw fork lifts moving materials one pallet at the time backwards through the manufacturing facility; given the safety records of fork lifts, this was an accident (or injury) just waiting to happen. In another plant, we found that they were pushing carts manually for up to 10 miles a day. And, in another, they had recognized the need for trailers, but had tried to build them themselves. Those trailers were neither pretty nor particularly sturdy.

There are a number of situations in which we could probably be helpful in making your horizontal material handling systems more efficient and effective. We can probably also make them significantly less expensive. These include:

  • Where you’ve attempted to use trailers, but they aren’t hold up or really fitting the application.
  • Where you have trailers, but they aren’t towable in multiple units or chains.
  • Where you have a corporate mandate or any other reason to eliminate fork lifts from the manufacturing or other area.
  • Where you want to replace a system that has simply evolved over time with a planned integrated system that uses each component most productively.

Pack Mule has been building material handling equipment for more than fifty years, and we’ve learned a number of important things. One is that whatever we build will probably have to stand up in a difficult environment; light weight simply won’t work. The second is that towable vehicles, better known as trailers, are not a one-size-fits-all products. We work on a one-size-fits-one basis, engineering the towable vehicles to specifically fit each customer’s application.

Let us show you how we can engineer a towable vehicle that’s an exact fit for your needs – Call us Now – (800) 241-2869

Pack Mule Industrial Vehicle Regenerative Braking

Regenerative Braking

Pack Mule Industrial Electric Vehicles Regenerative Braking

A Tesla Model S P85+ using regenerative braking power in excess of 60 kW. During regenerative braking the power indicator is green. Regenerative braking increases runtime and productivity.

One of the major features of hybrid and all electric automobiles is the ability of the vehicles’ brakes to generate electric current that recharges the battery. It’s called regenerative braking (or “regen braking,” for short).  When the driver steps on the brake, the kinetic energy that is usually turned into heat and dissipated into the atmosphere (as with hydraulic brakes) is captured and sent to the battery.

It works the same way with industrial electric vehicles.

That’s the reason Pack Mule made regenerative braking (or “regen braking”) standard. Using the energy generated by the brakes significantly increases runtime, one of the most important quality measurements for battery-powered vehicles.

Regenerative braking is a natural fit for stock chasers and other industrial vehicles. The vehicles usually make frequent stops along their routes, engaging the brakes—and generating power—throughout the shift. It is essentially free electricity.

Pack Mule industrial electric vehicles are designed to provide more up time in heavy use. Our customers count on the machines to be up and running throughout the shift, and standard regenerative braking is just one more component of that greater reliability.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_brake)

RELATED INDUSTRIAL VEHICLES:

Pack Mule Industrial Electric Stock Chaser
Pack Mule Industrial Electric Burden Carriers
Pack Mule Industrial Electric Tow Vehicles
Pack Mule Industrial Electric Personnel Carriers