TRAVEL SIDEWAYS

Warehouse designers have always had to consider lift truck movement limitations when laying out storage aisles. No more, thanks to the Acroba line of battery-powered lift trucks. These trucks can take a 90-degree turn by not turning at all. Thus, not only do they travel forward and backward, they also travel left and right.

To turn at the top of an intersecting aisle, the driver rotates the front and rear wheels 90 degrees, swivels his seat and proceeds down the aisle sideways. He can control travel speed (to about 10 mph) and direction using a joystick and second floor-mounted accelerator pedal. Then he stops, converts to conventional mode, lifts a load (from 3,000 to 6,000 pounds) and puts it into the rack.

Warehouses can now reduce intersecting aisle widths, creating from 10 percent to 30 percent more storage space. For more information, contact TCM Fork Lift Trucks, tcmforklifttrucks.com, 713-681-8888.

ROBOT FLEXES PICKING MUSCLE

There’s nothing as flexible as the human hand for picking. But robots such as the Flex Picker are coming closer to matching human dexterity. The Flex Picker picks up random objects from one conveyor belt and precisely places them into cartons or package containers on another conveyor belt running parallel or perpendicular to the first one. Pick speed is more than 150 picks per minute. Payload is up to 4 lb. This robot is also available in wash-down versions. ABB; www.abb.com/robotics, +46 21 344 873.

A BRIDGE TO BETTER COMMUNICATIONS

As the need for Internet access extends beyond the PC, a new generation of devices will help make communications ubiquitous and transparent. These devices, from Ubicom Inc., support all prevalent connectivity protocols, including HomePlug, Bluetooth, GRPS and IEEE 802.11 on the wireless side, and USB, Ethernet, GPSI and PCMCIA on the wired side.

The design of the IP2022 products lets them support multiple protocols; they can also be easily updated through software. Developers can use these products to create small 802.11b-compatible products with custom features.

“Ubicom’s platform is to repurpose hardware down the road,” said Brad Bester, senior director of strategic development for D-Link Systems Inc. “As a result, we can leverage our R&D effort across multiple product lines. This is especially critical to wireless suppliers who must address the diverse needs of wireless users, while working in a world of constantly changing protocols and standards.”

Ubicom Inc.; ubicom.com, 650-210-1510.