How Does An Electric Tug Work?

Material handling electric tugs

Electric tugs and electric tows enable industrial manufacturers, as well as those in retail and logistics, to reduce manual handling and drive operational efficiency in the movement of heavy-wheeled loads.

How does an electric tug work?

How does an electric tug work?

A real-world comparison

In its most simplistic form, the operation of an electric tug works in the same way as an electric car.

Like an electric car, an electric tug is charged via a cable and powered by energy stored within rechargeable batteries.

When the throttle is pressed it sends a signal to the motor to rotate, in the same way that the accelerator pedal on an electric car works. To facilitate this rotation, the motor draws current from the batteries, which then power the motor which in turn, provides the drive.

An electric tug also uses a similar regenerative braking mechanism to that which can be found in most electric vehicles. Regenerative braking converts kinetic energy – from movement – into electricity, which is then fed back into the battery.

How do electric tugs generate traction?

Electric tugs are designed to improve the movement of heavy wheeled loads. The way they generate traction typically determines whether they are classed as ‘electric tugs’ or ‘electric tows’.

Electric tug weight transfer - icon

A weight transfer system

Electric tugs use the weight transfer principle: A secure coupling system enables an element of the load weight to be transferred through the machine drive wheel to gain traction and mobilise heavy loads.

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Using the machine weight

Electric tow tugs use their own weight: The tow tug utilises its’ own weight to gain traction and enable the movement of heavy loads.

What is the difference between towing and tugging forces?

Aside from the differences between how electric tugs and electric tows generate traction, it’s important to understand the differences in their operation.

An electric tug delivers equally matched push and pull forces (the force a machine can pull or push) and provides a solution that enables full manipulation and manoeuvrability of heavy loads in any direction.

On the other hand, electric tows typically have a greater pull force than push. Electric tows can also push loads – but pushing requirements must be talked through with your chosen supplier to make sure the movements you need are feasible with a tow, and the correct coupling and other options have been selected.

How does the coupling system work?

For electric tugs, the coupling systems and connection points need to be able to facilitate weight transfer. To do so, any connection point needs to be rigid to allow the machine to move heavy weights.

Typically, this utilises a female coupling (securely mounted on your load) and a corresponding male coupling (mounted on the machine). Operators then engage the hydraulics on the electric tug to facilitate a secure and rigid connection to your load.

Electric tow tugs however utilise a simple plug-and-play design that uses traditional towing couplings to connect to your load – such as drawbars, tow pins and ball hitches.

Remote control operation

This allows electric tugs and tows to be operated via a remote control. Enabling operators to take up the ideal vantage point when moving the load and benefit from unrivalled visibility.

Autonomous operation (AGVs)

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are of increasing interest to businesses looking to streamline operations and maximise efficiency. Electric tugs are available as line-follow systems or as fully autonomous machines that can interact with their environment and systems.

Your questions, answered - FAQs

Does an electric tug lift the load?

No, an electric tug does not lift the load clear off the ground. Electric tugs are designed to keep wheeled loads safely on the ground.

What other types of electric tugs are available?

Electric tugs and tow tugs are typically pedestrian operated as standard. However, as the technology in the industry has evolved, electric tugs are available with additional options such as: Remote control operation and Autonomous operation (AGVs)

An electric tug solution for your application

Whether you are looking to reduce downtime on an assembly line or remove manual handling processes for staff, electric tugs and tows deliver a compact, powerful, and easy-to-use solution.