Electric Tug FAQs

Explore frequently asked questions about electric tugs, tow tugs and pushers… 



What is an electric tug?

Electric tugs are a type of battery-powered material handling equipment that allows a single pedestrian operator to move heavy loads on wheels without any physical effort.

They provide a safe and highly efficient way to manoeuvre heavy-wheeled loads in a controlled manner. MasterMover’s extensive range of tow tugs enables the safe movement of loads up to 70,000kg with a single machine and even up to 360,000kg using multiple machines. 

What types of electric tug are available?

MasterMover boasts an expansive range of machines designed to improve the handling of heavy-wheeled loads.  

The SmartMover range is the perfect manual handling solution for moving loads weighing up to 2,000 kg. With a compact machine footprint and a range of secure coupling options, the SmartMover range is often used to mechanise the movement of loads previously handled manually – reducing the risk of injury.  

For loads weighing up to 20,000kg, our MasterTug and MasterTow ranges deliver powerful performance and enable a single operator to easily move loads on castors or rails.  

While all ranges can handle common floor conditions within industrial environments and outdoor use, our AllTerrain range is specifically designed to work in the most challenging of environments.  

For the movement of trailers, our Trailer Moving System offers a compact trailer moving solution, enabling unladen trailers of 20,000kg to be moved with complete confidence.  

In addition to our range of standard pedestrian-operated electric tugs, we offer a range of technology options for customers looking to further amplify electric tugs' efficiency and safety benefits with future-proof technology. Many of our electric tugs are available with remote control operation for improved visibility or as fully autonomous AGV solutions to maximise efficiency.  

Whichever electric tug you select, you’ll benefit from improved safety and efficiency within your operations.

What industries use electric tugs?

A full range of industries uses our electric tugs to improve workplace safety and drive efficiency gains. From the movement of waste bins in facilities management to the movement of aero engines through maintenance – our tow tug solutions are relied on to deliver time and time again.  

Many of our customers work within industrial manufacturing environments such as heavy plant equipment, pharmaceutical manufacturing, energy, automotive and aerospace

How does an electric tug work?

An electric tug is a battery-powered machine that uses a series of motors to deliver the powerful movement of heavy-wheeled loads.

As with anything involving movement, traction is crucial to getting loads moving.

Our electric tugs can be divided into two main functional design categories based on how they generate traction:

  1. A weight transfer system: A secure coupling system transfers an element of the load weight through the machine drive wheel to gain traction and mobilise heavy loads.
  2. Using the machine weight: The tow tug utilises its' own weight to gain traction and enable the movement of heavy loads
Is a pedestrian-operated electric tug safe?

Electric tugs offer a safer way to move heavy-wheeled loads that were previously carried out manually or by using traditional material handling equipment such as forklift trucks or tow tractors.

Our electric tugs boast an impressive range of standard safety features to ensure that the operator is always in control. Features include an emergency stop button, an anti-crush system that activates immediately if the user’s body comes into contact with it and a sensor that automatically cuts off the power when the tiller arm returns to vertical – preventing accidental operation. 

Machines also feature a warning horn and a self-adjusting castor guard that prevents the risk of foot trapping.  

Further safety options are available such as a two-speed selector switch to suit your operating environment and a flashing safety light and motion bleeper. 

How do you stop a load with an electric tug?

Can electric tugs stop a load? Your electric tug is physically connected to your load so when the tug stops, the load stops.

Each machine has several braking mechanisms that ensure it is safe to use in every eventuality. The operator can simply release the controls, and the load will come to a halt.

An emergency stop button can be manually pressed if needed; otherwise, it is automatically activated when the tiller arm is returned to its vertical home position (i.e. you cannot use the machine with the tiller arm in a vertical position). 

Do I need a license to operate a pedestrian electric tow tug?

No, you do not need a licence to use an electric tug. This is one of the many reasons industrial manufacturers are increasingly opting for electric tugs to create fork-fee environments.  

Unlike typical lifting equipment such as forklifts, electric tow tugs don’t lift loads, so they do not fall under LOLER regulations (Lifting Operations ad Lifting Equipment Regulations, 1998).

With an electric tug, you no longer need to wait for the availability of a licensed forklift truck driver to move a load.

Likewise, with no operator license required, you can seamlessly integrate electric tugs into your processes, whether that’s to eliminate manual handling or reduce reliance on traditional handling equipment.  

Is training provided?

Yes, training is available on all machines to ensure your operators use electric tugs safely and maximise usage rates. 

Are electric tow tugs available in my country?

Yes, MasterMover electric tugs are available worldwide and are supported by our network of dealers on every continent. 

What is CE Marking?

Products manufactured and sold in Europe are required by law to comply with CE standards.

Outside of the EU, CE marking does not hold any authority, although many countries respect the strict conditions a product must meet to be CE marked, thus confirming the product is safe to use.

All MasterMover products are CE marked so they meet EU health, safety and environmental requirements.

Your company can incorporate a MasterMover tug safe in the knowledge that it conforms to all appropriate legislation. 

Can electric tugs be used to move loads on rails?

Electric tow tugs can be used to push and pull heavy loads on rails. Our electric tugs are used to deliver the safe, controlled movement of heavy loads such as rail bogies and sub-assemblies on rails.  

I think I need something different, do you offer custom solutions?

Yes. We understand that every application is different and sometimes, standard material handling equipment might not be suitable for your requirements. Our dedicated in-house Custom Engineering team is on hand to provide custom solutions for your unique requirements.


Can I have a demo of the machine before I purchase?

MasterMover operates globally through direct relationships and a network of sales partners and we have demo units available across a range of regions. Please contact us to discuss arranging a demonstration. 

Can I purchase in different currencies?

With an expansive range of global customers, our electric tugs can be purchased in GBP, EUR or USD, depending on your location. 

Do I need to purchase a service and maintenance plan?

Regular servicing is the key to safeguarding your electric tug’s performance. We offer a range of planned preventative maintenance programmes designed to ensure that your electric tug is always safe and reliable.

Are there any additional costs I need to be aware of?

We quote our electric tug solutions with a relevant battery, charger, coupling system, packaging, and delivery – everything you need to get started.

Additional bolt-on options are available such as training, maintenance packages and installation if required.  

Why is stainless steel more expensive?

Stainless steel is more expensive than mild steel alternatives due to the addition of a range of other alloying elements. Different grades of stainless steel are available, influencing the price and preparation involved.

Our stainless steel electric tugs are used in highly controlled environments such as food manufacturing and biopharmaceuticals, so we use high-grade 316 stainless steel. 

Technical & Machine

What is rolling resistance?

Rolling resistance is the force resisting the motion when an object rolls on a surface and is an important consideration when it comes to electric tugs.  

Rolling resistance can be affected by a number of variables including:

  • Load weight  
  • Slopes
  • Floor (Material, type, and condition)
  • Castor wheels (Material, diameter, quantity, orientation, condition)

All of these variables play a role in determining the rolling resistance of an application and in turn, the total force needed to move a load from an electric tug. 

For example, steel castors running on rails have a very low rolling resistance which means less force is required to start the load moving and stop it. 

Why is rolling resistance important?

Rolling resistance plays a vital role in determining an electric tug or tow solution, so it must be considered.  

The higher the rolling resistance, the more power is needed from an electric tug to start the load moving.  

We use information on your environment, movement and castors to calculate the estimated rolling resistance and in turn, the force required to move and slow down your load. This enables us to specify a suitably powered electric tug or tow to mobilise your load. 

What is a coupling?

A coupling is a device that allows a connection between a load and an electric tug. Each machine has an array of standard coupling options available, and we’ll ensure the correct one is specified for your application.

For applications where a standard solution isn’t suitable, we can design custom solutions.  

How do I connect the electric tug to my load?

Different machine ranges use different coupling systems and your MasterMover representative will ensure that any coupling is right for your requirements. However, here is a basic explanation of the common coupling types and how they connect to your load:

Clamp – Our SmartMover range uses a clamp style coupling which clamps onto the frame of your trolley to connect directly to loads. Where a direct connection can’t be made, adaptors can be bolted onto your trolleys.

CombiCoupling – Available on our MasterTug range, this utilises a male coupling mounted on the tug and a female coupling which is fitted onto your trolley. The male and female connect using hydraulics to create a secure connection to your load.  

Pin & Ball hitches – Used across our MasterTow range, pin couplings enable the quick and easy connection to loads fitted with drawbars. Ball hitches are also available.  

Custom Couplings – Where a standard coupling isn’t suitable, we can work with you to create custom couplings. Whether that is to connect to an existing system on your trolley or a solution to work with various different trolley designs, our team can advise on the right solution.

What is the difference between an electric tow and an electric tug?

The key difference between an electric tug and tow is that, an electric tug is a machine designed to push and pull in an equal measure using weight transfer to gain traction. An electric tow is a self-weighted machine predominantly designed to pull (or tow!) loads.

We’ll use technical information on your application and understand your movement requirements to specify the right solution for you. 

What castor wheel configuration can electric tugs work with?

Electric tugs are designed to move loads on wheels or rails.  

For maximum manoeuvrability and control, it’s recommended that your trolley should have 2 x swivel castors at the front and 2 x fixed (or directionally locked at straight) castors at the rear.

All-swivel castor loads can be mobilised by using our MasterHandler range, which provides a fixed point to help stabilise a load. Alternatively large, awkward loads can be mobilised using a two-tug system that enables operators to work in tangent to pivot a load on its axis, resulting in maximum manoeuvrability.  

How long does the battery last on an electric tug?

Like any battery, the battery life of an electric tug or electric tow is determined by usage, specification, and environmental factors. Battery life can be influenced by variables such as:

  • Load weight and route
  • Run speed  
  • Battery specification/size
  • Environmental conditions such as temperature
Are lithium batteries available?

Lithium batteries are available on many models within our range for applications where charging can only take place in short, sharp bursts.

Lithium batteries allow operators to charge the batteries for short periods (known as opportunity charging) and are a perfect solution for high-intensity operations. 

How long does the battery take to charge?

Recharge times for standard AGM batteries are typically between 6-7 hours, with these timings based on recharging from 30% to 100% on standard batteries.

Alongside the benefit of opportunity charging, lithium batteries have significantly faster recharge times than lead-acid batteries, with recharge times often between 1-4hrs. 


Are electric tugs available as automated guided vehicles (AGVs)?

Yes, we offer an extensive range of autonomous electric tugs, designed to optimise the movements of heavy loads weighing up to 30,000kg.  

Whether you need an out-of-the-box solution to deliver continuous, repeatable movements using Line Follow navigation, or a more intuitive system that utilises natural navigation to engage with its’ environment, our AGV systems can be customised to your needs.  

What are the advantages of AGVs?

Eliminating the need for an operator, AGVs drive maximum efficiency and automate the movement of loads to boost resource utilisation and safety. With predefined movements, AGVs deliver the accurate movement of loads every time – making them ideal for use in tight spaces.  

What types of AGV navigation do you use?

We offer two forms of AGV navigational technology:

  • Line follow - This technology ensures an electric tug follows a line on the floor, delivering highly accurate repeated movement between points. This is especially useful when moving loads through tight spaces, or when accurate movement is required. Scanners monitor for hazards and risks, bringing the tug or tow to a stop if the need arises. The AGV can read barcodes or other prompts, to stop under certain circumstances, or slow down or speed up in different locations.
  • Natural navigation - Our full AGV solution utilises the latest in navigation and safety sensor technology to deliver electric tugs that interact with their environment, travelling safely and efficiently between destinations.

Safety sensors detect obstacles and risks, slowing or stopping movement, for example reducing speed when the floor is wet and/or where visibility is impacted.

Navigation technology ensures the machine travels between destination, interacting with your environment as required to take account or ideal routes, other machines, and operational factors. 

Can I use a remote control to operate the electric tug?

Yes, many of our electric tugs can be operated using a remote control. This enables operators to manoeuvre into the best vantage point, delivering increased visibility and reducing the risk of collisions.  

What is MultiLink technology?

Available on our PowerSteered range, innovative MultiLink technology allows multiple electric tugs to work in synchronisation under the control of a single operator.

This allows an unrivalled range of movement, manoeuvrability, and control – ideally suited to move awkward loads. Using MultiLink also allows you to move heavier loads by using the combined weight moving performance of individual electric tugs.  

Application & Environmental

What is the process of specifying an electric tug?

We follow a tried-and-tested approach to specifying an electric tug for your application where we collect information on the maximum load weight, environment and route you need your electric tug to work on. From there, our engineers will calculate the most suitable electric tug solution for your needs.  

Why do you need information about my application?

Specifying an electric tug that is fit for purpose and will deliver tangible safety and efficiency benefits right out of the box is critical to us. An array of factors influences the specification, performance and price of an electric tug and we need to understand them to ensure any solution is right for your application.

Collecting information and conducting a full assessment of your application prevents any issues in installation or performance.  

Can an electric tug work on a slope?

Yes, all MasterMover machines will work on slopes. The maximum angle our tugs are capable of clearing, on average, is 8°.

It is more important to remember that for every degree of slope involved, the maximum load capacity of the machine is reduced, just as pushing a car on the level requires less force than on a slope.

Therefore, if the weight of the load is already close to the maximum capacity of the machine a more powerful tug may be needed to move the load on a slope. 

How do I operate an electric tug on a slope?

To guarantee safety, traction and the control needed on an incline you should always PUSH the load UP a slope and PULL the load DOWN a slope with an electric tug.

PUSH up/ PULL down, ensuring the user is always in front of the load. 

What floor surfaces can an electric tug run on?

Our electric tugs will work on a range of floor surfaces. Electric tugs are often required to work on common industrial floor materials such as painted concrete, tarmac, epoxy and rough concrete. 

Similar to inclines, the maximum load capacity of a machine is affected by the floor surface. For example, it requires a greater force to move a load on a tarmac floor than it does on a smooth concrete floor. 

Can electric tow tugs be used outside in wet conditions?

All of our machines can be used outside and/or in wet conditions, with some electric tugs designed specifically to be used in those conditions. The AllTerrain range of electric tugs is particularly suitable for rough or challenging floor surfaces.  

Operating outside normally means the machines have to work on tarmac or uneven concrete and deal with slopes, all of which inevitably affect the maximum load weight of a particular machine.  

Our Stainless Steel Range includes machines with higher Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, making them ideal for use in food processing, pharmaceutical and chemical applications.

When we’re assessing which electric tug best suits your application, we work on a worst-case scenario to ensure any electric tug specified is up to the job.  

Are electric tugs available in ATEX/IECEx?

Yes, for safe load moving in potentially hazardous working conditions, MasterMover can convert our equipment to meet ATEX and IECEx standards.  

Machines can be converted to meet zones 1 and 2 (gaseous explosive environments) and zones 21 and 22 (powder or dust explosive environments).  

Can electric tugs be made in stainless steel?

Yes, our Stainless Steel range of electric tugs is widely used in highly controlled environments such as biopharmaceutical manufacturing and food processing.

Our tugs are made with 316-grade stainless steel, facilitating easy cleaning and use in sterile environments.  

Custom solutions 

What if I need a custom solution?

For applications where a standard solution isn’t the right fit, we have a dedicated engineering team on hand to create custom solutions. With 25 years of industry experience in providing customised solutions, you’re in safe hands with MasterMover.  

Do you offer bespoke couplings?

Yes, we offer custom couplings. Where a standard solution isn’t suitable, we will work with you to assess if a customised coupling can be designed.

Situations where this often arises are where you may have a high quantity of trolleys that can’t be modified, no obvious connection point, or where there are space restraints on your trolley.   

Can I customise the colour of my machine?

Yes, if you need an electric tug in a specific colour simply provide us with the required RAL code and we’ll make sure your tug is painted to your requirements. 

Service & Maintenance

How long is the warranty on an electric tug?

Our electric tugs come with a 12-month warranty as standard. The tug chassis and metalwork are also covered by a five-year structural warranty.

We offer an extended major component warranty on all our machines for up to five years – this means that you only pay for consumables and damage.

Our extended warranty includes comprehensive cover against sudden mechanical or electrical failure of all factory-fitted components on your electric tug. 

How do I log a warranty claim?

We’ll be happy to support you in logging a warranty claim. To do so, please call our service team on +44 (0)1335 301869.

How do I order spare parts?

Contact the MasterMover parts team at parts@mastermover.com or call +44 (0)1335 301869

Can you service other equipment too?

Yes, our expert engineers are trained to service a wide range of manual handling equipment using the latest techniques and diagnostic tools, meaning that you can consolidate all your servicing under one provider.  

Some of the other machines we cover include ride-on tugs, pallet trucks, pallet stackers, floor scrubbers, floor sweepers, robot wrappers, AGV machines and more. 

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