Okura Transport Machinery Company (Kakogawa City, Hyogo, Ryoichi Oko, President) has developed a loading device that can replace a forklift for high-speed, fully automated loading of trucks, completely loading a standard pallet (1100 mm square) on a 10-ton truck (16 pallets). Loading takes about 12 minutes. The system can significantly reduce the waiting time for cargo and respond to the “2024 problem” of long working hours for truck drivers. Aimed at medium and large logistics sites, the company will start taking orders on April 1.

The new equipment, a compact truck loader, is based on the technology of the company’s large loading equipment, which has a proven track record at major beverage plant warehouses. While the large equipment is designed to handle logistics of about 100 trucks per day, the new system is aimed at logistics sites where about 30 trucks per day enter and exit, and where a broad market is expected. The goal is to sell 10 systems per year.

The fork-mounted horizontal mover lifts two pallets of goods from the transport berth and loads them from the side of the truck. It has a maximum load capacity of 1700 kg and can handle up to 80 pallets per hour.

The pallets can be loaded without gaps thanks to a unique sensor technology that allows accurate reading of the height of the cargo bed and the position of the pallets to be loaded. The system consists of a mainframe, two moving tracks and an anti-intrusion fence, and the estimated cost of the system is about 80 million yen.

The logistics industry is under pressure to deal with the “2024 issue,” which will limit the maximum overtime hours for truck drivers starting in April 2012. In addition, there is a growing demand for automation of human-operated forklift loading due to security concerns and manpower shortages.