Forklifts Go Driverless with Remote Operations

Kenco Logistics, a third-party logistics provider, is deploying Phantom Auto’s remotely operated forklift solution in a pilot program to identify how customers can increase labor accessibility, maximize workforce impact, deliver improved workplace safety, and generate greater cost savings.

Phantom’s interoperable software enables forklifts, tuggers, robots, trucks, and more to be remotely operated by trained operators sitting up to thousands of miles away. Leveraging real-time video and audio input, material handling equipment (MHE) can be safely and skillfully operated by off-site operators. The enhanced visibility offered by the solution can reduce the rate of workplace safety incidents, improving overall warehouse safety while decreasing workers’ compensation premiums.

By using cameras and sensors installed on the forklift (no radar or Lidar), an operator anywhere can guide the robot around the warehouse environment. The forklifts are equipped with two-way audio so that remote operators can communicate with onsite workers in the warehouses.

Kenco’s Innovation Labs provide a real-world warehouse setting for innovation experts to research and test emerging technologies. Averaging 20 new projects a year, the Labs identified over $5 million in savings for customers in 2020. The 10,000-square-foot facility allows Kenco to test Phantom Auto’s solutions in a variety of environments, ensuring optimal performance and fit with Kenco’s operations when the solution is deployed in the field.

60% of warehouse operators name labor recruitment and productivity as a top challenge, indicating a severe labor shortage throughout the industry. For companies struggling to meet their labor needs, Phantom Auto’s solution removes geographic restrictions to hiring. Phantom’s customers can hire people anywhere — including rural areas with limited employment opportunities — not just people that live within commuting distance of warehouses.

For further cost savings, companies can utilize the software to share labor, allowing remote MHE operators to work in multiple warehouses within a single day. Phantom Auto also empowers organizations to add diversity to their workforce, employing individuals with mobility issues who might otherwise not be considered for driving positions.