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Automated Pallet Hand Jack Clamping Mechanism using DF Mobile Robot

Hand pallet jacks are common moving equipment used by many manufacturers. It is used in pallet transferring and material handling. Unfortunately, even when workers attempt to use them safely, pallet jacks handling is still one of the biggest hazards in today’s working environment. Common hazards associated with pallet jack operation such as overloading of load, mishandling of hand pallet jack and even misarrangement of goods on the hand pallet jack can bring danger to the workers. There are precautions that can be done to reduce the hazard such as safety training, operation training, routine inspection of the jack before use, wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE), route planning, and avoidance of horseplay. However, the hazards still exist and haunt the workers and the factory owner everyday.

As an alternative, DF Automation & Robotics found an automated solution which can help reduce the hazard, as well as improve the material handling efficiency. Most importantly, The investment is minimal and the existing hand pallet jacks can still be reused. Zalpha Autonomous Mobile Robot is the answer to it. Zalpha AMR is a mobile robot by DF Automation and Robotics which can navigate automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) and uses sensors to identify the surroundings during its operation. Zalpha AMR comes with a flexible top compartment which can carry customized top compartment for different applications. For hand jacks towing, DF mechanical design team have designed a general automated towing clamp which works for most of the hand jacks in the market. Below is the detailed description of the operation of the AMR for hand jacks towing.

AMR Process

1. Operator load full pallet with pallet jack manually at station and call AMR using remote calling device
2. AMR received request, and move to the calling station.
3. Upon arrive, AMR reverse and engage with the hand jack automatically.
4. Loading of pallet hand jack completed. AMR move out from station and deliver the hand jack to the designated destination.
5. When Towing AMR arrive, the clamp release automatically and drop the pallet hand jacks on the destination point



Clamp Mechanism

The clamp is an automated lock mechanism designed specially for hand jacks engagement. It comes with a sensor which can trigger the lock whenever the hand jack is properly attached to the clamp. It can be manually disengaged as well. Users can disengage the handle from the actuator movement by pulling the release handle to unhook. 


Pallet Jack Guide

A Pallet Jack Guide guides and holds the pallet jack’s front wheel in position. The aluminium plate will correct the front wheel angle and guide toward the U-shape plate. Once the wheel enters the space, it will hold the pallet jack in position.


Advantages of Automated Pallet Jack Clamping

By using Zalpha Pallet Jack clamping, the working hazard is reduced as it minimises the handling of the goods by humans. The material handling operation can be easily planned and predicted as well since the operation is automated. Besides, it can also significantly increase the operation time without need to worry about the tiredness and absence of the workforce.


For more detail of how it operates, please find the following video link

Author by: Chia Chin Wee  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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