What is an electric tug?

Material handling electric tugs

An electric tug is a battery-powered, pedestrian-operated piece of material handling equipment used to move heavy wheeled loads. Continue reading to find out more.

What is an electric tug?
MasterMover electric tug range

The electric tug name

"Electric tugs", also known as an electric tows, electric pushers, pedestrian tugs, electric tuggers, tow tugs, powered tugs, electric tow tractors and load movers, are battery-powered machines designed to move heavy loads. This can include raw materials, high-value equipment and other resources in an industrial environment, in or around a production line or process, or in sectors such as retail, logistics, waste handling and more.

Using them to move heavy wheeled loads can drive operational efficiency whilst improving health and safety. Electric tugs help to reduce the risk of injuries associated with manual handling of heavy loads which requires physical effort from an operator, like Muscular Skeletal Disorders (MSDs).

They are available in different sizes and configurations to meet the needs of different applications. Whether moving heavy loads around a warehouse or factory, relatively short distances or further, these machines provide a safe, efficient solution due to their ability to increase productivity, and reduce injuries and physical stress.

2 forklift trucks in a warehouse

Forklift trucks & other equipment

A forklift truck is a well-known piece of equipment for moving loads, but is designed to lift and move packets and pallets, not pull or push wheeled loads.

This is where pedestrian tugs – or more technologically advanced options – come in, moving loads at larger sizes and weights.

How do electric tugs work?

These machines work by securely connecting to the wheeled load that needs to be moved. They are pedestrian operated typically but can also be used remotely with a wireless transmitter, which offers benefits such as the operator being able to move away from the load and take up an ideal vantage point.

AGV electric tugs are also available, using sensors to detect risks and hazards, and navigation systems to manage movement between locations.

Connection is possible to a wide range of items and long trains such as trailers, carts, dollies, or large platforms carrying loads, to make movement easy and efficient. Hydraulic systems are often used to maximise connection and load security.

Generating traction

Traction is fundamental to moving large loads or heavy weights. This is achieved often by ballast in the machine, to generate traction to the drive wheel. At MasterMover, many of our products use a patent-protected weight transfer principal, using the load to generate traction. As a result, MasterMover machines are highly compact compared to the load being moved.

Electric tow tugs tend to pull a load using the weight of the machine to generate traction.

Rolling resistance

The most important factor in achieving movement is Rolling Resistance.

Operating on a flat terrain on a smooth, high-quality surface results in less resistance and therefore the push and pull force required is reduced.

Benefits of battery powered

An electric tug works by using a series of electric motors to move the wheels of the vehicle.

They are zero emission at the point of use, making them ideal for use in manufacturing and logistics environments, as well as in industries like pharmaceuticals which require a clean, sterile environment.

When would you need an electric tug?

Tow tugs or electric tow tractors, and models that push a load, are used for a variety of tasks. They are perfect for indoor or outdoor use (if designed to the relevant standard) and can be used for a variety of applications.

Electric tugs can be used with remote controls and feature AGV capabilities, which are ideal for performing reliable and consistent movements commonly required in factory or production settings.

Common applications include moving heavy wheeled loads in a factory or warehouse setting, moving heavy products and large pieces of equipment. Just a few examples of applications include:

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Industrial manufacturing

To move heavy and/or large products, parts, or equipment

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Retail sector and logistics

To move roll cages, trolleys, and other platforms

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Waste handling

To move waste bins, including up and down slopes

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Other industries

An electric tug is ideal for moving luggage trolleys at airports, but they apply to any application where something heavy is on wheels and needs to be moved!

Why would you use an electric tug?

An electric tug can be incredibly useful for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you need to move a large object and don’t have the equipment to do so in a safe manner. In this case, such a solution can be a game-changer.

Additionally, if you’re working in a tight space, these machines are highly compact and offer precision movement, both through manual operation but also through line-following technology options.

They do not require a license to use, so anyone with training can operate the machines.

5 Benefits of Using An Electric Tug

There are many advantages to using these products in manufacturing and logistics environments over traditional methods of moving materials:

  • Improving operational efficiency - icon

    1. Maximising Efficiency & Productivity

    Electric tugs can help improve efficiency by reducing the time it takes to move materials around a facility. They also reduce the risk of injuries associated with manual lifting.

    As an alternative to forklifts and overhead cranes, they can manoeuvre in tighter spaces, helping to make best use of available space and leading to improved productivity.

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    2. Reduced Costs

    Electric tugs require less maintenance and are cheaper to operate, so you can save money in the long run.

    There are also rental options available, giving you further options and flexibility.

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    3. Improved Safety

    Electric tugs can help improve safety in the workplace by reducing the risk of injuries associated with manual handling, or equipment that results in a bigger risk of accidents.

    They are designed to be safe for use in manufacturing and logistics environments. They are equipped with emergency stop buttons and other safety features.

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    4. Environmentally Friendly

    Powered by batteries, they are more sustainable than traditional methods because they generate no emissions.

    This is better for the environment and can help improve your company’s sustainability credentials.

  • Automation & wireless options - icon

    5. Automation & Wireless Options

    Not only can they be operated manually, but there are also a wide range of automation and remote-control options. This gives you the flexibility to choose the best solution for your needs.

    Automation and remote control can help improve efficiency by eliminating the need for operators to be present.

AGV300 TOW pulling cages through a warehouse

Maximising ROI through multiple applications

Electric tugs are versatile and can be used for a variety of applications, whether pedestrian operated, wirelessly controlled, or fully automated (AGV).

A single machine can be used to move loads up to 70,000kg, but the same machine can also handle a variety of smaller loads. Use our MultiLink technology to combine multiple machines and move even more.

An electric tug is easy to use and requires very little maintenance, used by many businesses and across many industries around the world, to move multiple loads or for single applications, transporting goods during assembly stages or in distributing products.