Menu

Hygiene and PPE supplies available. Give us a call…

Ultimate guide to tow tugs and towing solutions for warehouses

If you are looking to streamline or improve your operations, you could benefit from the use of a tow tug, or a fleet of tow tugs in your warehouse, factory or other place of work. Tow tugs are utilised for their flexibility, manoeuvrability, capacity to tow large loads and improved safety. It can make quite a change to your operations to move from using traditional forklifts to tow tugs, so you need to be sure which type of tow tug is most suitable for your operation, and the key benefits you could experience from using tow tugs. In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of why you might want to use tow tugs in your operations, and what may be the right type of tow tug for you. If you don't find the information you need, we are always on hand to discuss your business operations and requirements, and to make recommendations on the right solutions for you.

What are tow tugs and tugging solutions/machines?

Tow tugs, sometimes referred to as tow tractors, are principally used to tow trailers carrying large amounts of goods to a single destination, or with multiple drop-offs managed by a single operator. Tow tugs are often necessary when traditional forklifts are unsuitable for the job, or where they would be less efficient. One of the key problems with forklifts is that they are not designed for towing, and attempting to tow with a forklift can be dangerous.

Why use tow tugs?

The key reason that many choose to use tow tugs and tugging solutions is that it allows for a much more efficient and leaner operations process. With a tow tractor, you can replenish products as they are used, and you do not need to keep excessive levels of stock on the warehouse floor. The biggest benefit to using tow tractors is that they make operations much more efficient and require fewer members of staff to move the same amount of product. There will be fewer bottlenecks and greater flexibility. This, in turn, has safety benefits too. With fewer people on the floor, there will be fewer opportunities for incidents and accidents.

Many operators use tow tugs for ‘milk runs’- a restocking process carried out at scheduled intervals.

Milk runs explained

Put simply, a milk run is where a tow tractor follows a continual route replenishing or collecting goods at designated points. Milk runs are a lean and efficient way to restock goods or materials from your main warehouse to an assembly, manufacture or packing line. Your milk run vehicle and operator will replenish anything necessary on a schedule, and as a result, is most suitable for circumstances where the same goods are needed over and over again.

What kinds of warehouse or other environment are they useful for?

There are many types of warehouses and environments suitable for tow tugs, and rather than listing specific industries, it is more useful to describe the characteristics of the operations.

Environments handling goods as opposed to pallets

Tow tugs are particularly useful for handling individual items or components. We have set out two example environments to demonstrate how tow tugs can improve operations.

If you work in manufacturing, you need a highly-efficient, lean process for getting components from your warehouse to the assembly line at just the right time during production. This helps to avoid having excessive materials in all production areas, preventing accidents and keeping operations efficient.

Similarly, if you work in e-commerce and single items are picked and sorted for customers, tow tugs can offer a much more efficient solution than forklifts or manual picking can. Towing is an excellent alternative to a forklift for warehouses handling single items as they are far easier to manoeuvre, and generally much safer and more straightforward to use when transporting single items.

Operations carrying multiple loads at the same time

If you need to carry multiple loads of different goods or products, a tow tug could be an excellent solution for you. With a tow tug, you have the flexibility to tow multiple trailers at the same time, allowing you to transport different categories or large volumes of goods in a tow train. You can choose from different load carriers too, and you can select different types and sizes to create a load train. By using a tow train with a variety of carriers, you can transport different load sizes, move goods using pallets and load the train from both sides. Using a tow tug is the ultimate solution for flexibility in your operations.

What kinds of business or industry would benefit from these trucks?

There are many businesses and industries which utilise the efficiency and effectiveness of tow tugs. Typically, tow tractors are used in the following industries:

• Manufacturing
• eCommerce
• Airports
• Other order picking facilities

Why are tow tugs so useful for eCommerce?

eCommerce is big business, and more than ever, efficient and streamlined operations are vital to profitability. Furthermore, as eCommerce grows, customers become more demanding about having fast delivery times. In fact, for many customers, delivery time can play a huge role in decision making. You need to ensure that your operations are as efficient as they can be. Single-piece picking and multiple-order picking needs to be simple and speedy - tow tugs can help. As we have described above, tow tug solutions with flexible carriers can make it much easier and quicker to pick and sort orders. You can also use your tow tractor fleet to replenish stock as they can support pallets and large or small quantities of stock.

What are the features? How are these beneficial to a business?

Tow tugs have many beneficial features that can help ensure safety in your business.

While most businesses are primarily looking to invest in tow tugs to improve the efficiency of their operations, it is vital to look at how tow tugs can improve safety too. Unlike when using a forklift, operators of tow tugs have an unobstructed view when operating the tug. They can sit in the tow tug seat, and will not have their visibility blocked by a mast, as would be the case in a forklift.

Furthermore, as tow tractors tug the goods and load the carriers behind them, they only move forward. Forklifts very frequently need to reverse, causing difficulty with visibility and all too often, accidents. In busy areas such as airports, visibility is essential for the safety of staff members and airport visitors. Moreover, where you choose to use sit-in tow tugs, this provides a comfortable and safe working environment for operators. They will be supported for long working hours and can drive the tow tug in all weather conditions.

Different types of tow tugs and their features

Pedestrian tow tractors

Pedestrian tow tugs are designed for simple movement of load carriers. These tugs are operated by pedestrians, and are easy to manoeuvre, simple to use and are very compact.

QDD10

This tow tug from EP Equipment is a small but mighty tool that can be used to tow trolleys around a production centre, warehouse or logistics centre. This tow tug can move up to one tonne and can be fitted with different towing solutions to suit your individual needs.

Stand-in tow tractors

Stand-in tow tugs are designed specifically for horizontal transport in the manufacturing industry and for order picking. They are designed with a low step, making getting on and off the tow easy and safe. The QDD03 is a small, electric tricycle. This tow is highly convenient to ride through bigger warehouses and factories. The QDD03 is an electric towing tricycle with a chassis designed to carry tools or goods. It has a powerful engine and can tow a weight of up to 250kg.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a more powerful stand-in tractor, you may be interested in the QDD30S/QDD45S stand-in electric tow tractor. This tow is perfect if you need to tow larger loads, and can manage loads of up to 4.5 tonnes. This tow is most suited to larger warehouse environments and is exceptionally robust. Although very powerful, the QDD30S / QDD45S is also cost-efficient and compact.

Rider-seated tow tractors

Rider-seated tow tugs are generally used for transporting goods, orders or luggage over longer distances. In these types of tugs, the operator is seated, providing greater comfort and allowing the tow to move safely at higher speeds. Rider-seated tow tugs are useful for large warehouses and production facilities, airports and other types of both indoor and outdoor towing operations. The electric tow tractor QDD30-60 is a powerful solution. With the ability to tow up to six tonnes, this tow and can be fitted with a broad variety of towing equipment to suit your needs and individual trolley system. Designed for simplicity and usability, the QDD30-60 will also be kind to your operators, providing support to minimise the risk of back injuries when operated for long periods of time.

Ready to introduce tow tugs to your operations? Get in contact with us today.

As you can see, tow tugs can greatly improve the efficiency and profitability of a broad variety of operations. With our specialist towing solutions, you can revolutionise the way you work, confident of quality and reliability. To discuss your specific needs with a member of our team, get in touch with us today. We will be happy to discuss the tow tugs that are right for your business.