Kenco opts for remote-control forklifts

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Kenco Logistics will be the first North American 3PL to roll-out Phantom Auto’s remotely operated forklifts as a service to its customers.

Drivers can pilot machinery from anywhere in the world using the Phantom Auto system.

The 3PL will first deploy the technology in a pilot program within the Kenco Innovation Labs so that its researchers can measure the benefits. 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.

Phantom software lets forklifts, tuggers, robots, trucks, and other equipment be remotely operated by trained operators sitting up to thousands of miles away. With real-time video and audio input, material handling equipment (MHE) can be safely and skillfully operated by off-site operators.

“Remote operation increases the productivity, flexibility, safety, and health of every companies’ most important resource: people,” said Elliot Katz, co-founder and chief business officer at Phantom.

“This human-centric technology will provide Kenco’s customers greater access to forklift operators, while simultaneously increasing the efficiency and productivity of said operators.”

Research lab

Kenco’s Innovation Labs provide a real-world warehouse setting for innovation experts to research and test emerging technologies on behalf of Kenco customers. Averaging 20 new projects a year, the Labs identified over US$5 million in savings for customers in 2020.

“The Kenco Innovation Labs are our proving ground for new technologies,” said Kristi Montgomery, vice-president of innovation and research and development at Kenco Logistics.

“Phantom Auto’s remotely operated forklift solution presents an exciting opportunity to transform not only how we and our customers think about the warehouse workforce, but also help expedite the investment into new technologies given recent equipment shortages.”

Click here to read our June 2021 feature on Phantom Auto’s pioneering work with Geodis.

A majority of warehouse operators name labour recruitment and productivity as a top challenge, and report a severe labour shortage throughout the industry. Phantom Auto’s solution removes geographic restrictions to hiring. Users of the system can hire people anywhere – including rural areas with limited employment opportunities –not just people that live within commuting distance of warehouses.

Companies can also use the software to share labour, allowing remote MHE operators to work in multiple warehouses within a single day.

Workforce diversity

Phantom Auto also empowers organizations to add greater diversity to their workforce, employing individuals with mobility issues who might otherwise not be considered for driving positions. Remote MHE vehicle operation is also proving to be an attractive career path for digital natives and younger generations.

“Kenco’s reputation as a pioneer in emerging technologies and dedication to digital transformation in the supply chain make it an ideal partner, and we’re excited to see how they leverage our solutions to expand employment opportunities,” said Shai Magzimof, co-founder and CEO at Phantom Auto.