Electric Tugger Essentials

Material Handling Tuggers

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MasterTug moving a yacht in a manufacturing yard

What is an electric tugger? 

An electric tugger is a battery-powered machine designed to move heavy-wheeled loads. They are known by many names such as ‘electric tows’, ‘electric tow tugs’, ‘pedestrian tuggers’, ‘cart tuggers’, 'walkie tuggers' and ‘powered tuggers’.

As a type of material handling equipment, electric tugs are used extensively within industrial manufacturing environments and in sectors such as retail, biopharmaceuticals, waste handling and more.

Using electric tuggers enables businesses to create processes that are more efficient and safer, enabling a single operator to push, pull and stop heavy loads.

With compact designs, electric tugs are the ideal solution for moving large loads in tight spaces - guaranteeing total maneuverability.

Benefits of an electric tugger

Electric tow tugs can be found in industrial manufacturing environments across the globe, but what benefits do they deliver?

Improving operational efficiency

Increase operational efficiency

Eliminate manual handling

Reduce manual handling

License free operation

No operator license required

Zero emissions

Zero emissions

Staff safety

Improve workplace safety

Improve flexibility

Maximize flexibility

Industrial tuggers - An alternative solution to… 

Line of forklift trucks

Traditional handling equipment – Forklift trucks & electric tow tractors 

By keeping loads safely on the ground, electric tuggers offer an effective alternative to traditional material handling equipment such as forklift trucks, pallet trucks and overhead cranes. 

With a compact machine footprint, many businesses are opting for electric tow tugs as an alternative to an electric tow tractor to deliver the precise movement of loads in tight or congested areas.    

MasterTug MT300 moving components for Continental during tyre manufacturing

Manual handling solutions  

Where wheeled loads were moved manually, an industrial cart tugger takes the strain – increasing safety and reducing the risk of injuries and strain.   


Learn more about Manual Handling Solutions

Choosing the right cart tugger or tugger machine

Material handling tuggers are specified on an application basis to ensure any solution delivers quantifiable safety and efficiency gains for you right out of the box. With a wide range of electric tuggers on the market, there are a number of key factors that can influence which is right for you:

Maximum Load Weight

The heavier the total load weight, the more power is needed from the machine to push, pull and stop it, in a safe and controlled way.

This is often referred to as the ‘towing capacity’ or ‘maximum load capability’.   

Moving on slopes

Rolling Resistance

This is the force needed to start a wheeled load moving and is influenced by factors such as floor condition, castor wheels and slopes.  

Slopes can have a significant impact on the right electric tugger for an application. A simple rule of thumb, the steeper the slope, the more powerful the electric tug needs to be.


When looking at electric tuggers, it’s important to consider how the equipment will connect to your load.

Couplings are the essential part that facilitates this connection, and their design dictates how secure your equipment and load are during transportation.

We offer a range of coupling options across our range of electric tuggers:

Hydraulic clamp coupling

Hydraulic clamp

Available on the SmartMover range, our hydraulic clamp creates an unbreakable connection to the load.

Connect directly to your cart or with our available adaptors.



Delivering a rigid connection to loads using a male and female coupling system, our unique

Combi Coupling facilitates unrivaled weight-moving capability and maneuverability  

Pin Coupling

Pin coupling

Enabling quick and easy connection to a wide range of industry-standard drawbars and towing arms, the pin coupling is a convenient solution for connecting to multiple loads.

Box Coupling

Box coupling

Perfect for applications where movement is on slopes or rough terrain, the BoxCoupling ensures a strong connection to the load, enabling precise maneuverability.  

Channel coupling

Channel coupling

Facilitating a secure, direct connection to your trolley, the ChannelCoupling can be used on multiple loads without the need for modifications.

Hydraulic options are available for added load security.     

Custom coupling

Custom coupling

Designed around your needs. Our experienced engineering team are on-hand to create custom coupling solutions that prioritize security, ease-of-use and suitability. 

Nuclear power plant

Material types & environmental ratings  

The construction material needed for an electric tug or specialist environmental protection such as required ingress protection (IP) or explosion-proofing all impact the specification.   

Electric tug vs electric tow

Electric tuggers vs electric tow tugs

The phrases electric tugger and electric tow tug are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion around what the differences are.

The two terms describe two different machine designs designed for different jobs...

Traction is essential when it comes to moving heavy loads and the key difference between an electric tugger and an electric tow tug is how they generate traction and in turn, move loads.

Electric tugs utilize a weight transfer system and a specialist coupling set-up designed to get your load moving, steer it, and bring it to a controlled stop. Weight transfer involves a machine transferring an element of the loads' weight down onto the drive wheel of the machine to gain traction, allowing compact machines to move very heavy weights.

Unlike tuggers, which utilize a weight transfer system to generate traction, an electric tow ultimately uses its own weight to gain traction and get loads moving.   

AGV300TOW automated electric tugger

Technology & control options

Electric tuggers are available with various technology and control options, designed to maximize the benefits of safety and efficiency. From pedestrian-operated electric tuggers to fully autonomous solutions - there are electric tow tug solutions to meet every requirement.

Remote control operation provides operators with complete flexibility, allowing them to have an ideal vantage point when making a movement delivering maximum visibility.

Innovative MultiLink technology on our PowerSteered range allows multiple machines (up to 12) to work in synchronization via one remote control, perfect for the movement of large, awkward loads that require precise positioning.  

Take advantage of Line Follow navigation on AGV electric tuggers to easily automate the repeated movement of heavy loads to drive operational efficiency. Or benefit from a totally integrated and autonomous solution with a full AGV system that utilizes intuitive natural navigation. 

Electric tugger machine safety features & options

Any material handling equipment needs to maximize operator safety, particularly when moving heavy loads within congested and pedestrianized areas.

Our high-quality electric tow tugs boast all the safety features detailed below, ensuring that operators and pedestrians remain safe at all times.   

Ergonomic controls

Ergonomic controls

Emergency stop

Emergency stop

Automatic tiller cut off

Automatic tiller cut off

Anti-crush button

Anti-crush button

Castor guard

Castor guard

Visual safety aids

Visual safety aids

Audible alerts

Audible alerts

Adjustable speed

Adjustable speed

Industrial electric tugger applications & industries

Working with many Fortune 500 companies to slimline their operations and improve safety has enabled us to work in a diverse range of industries from biopharmaceuticals to industrial manufacturing.   

Your Questions, Answered - Electric Tugger Machine FAQs

Do I need a license to operate an electric tugger?

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

Unlike forklift trucks, electric tow tugs don’t lift loads.

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

How long does the battery last?

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

We provide a runtime figure on each of our product pages.   

Will they work on slopes?

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

It is 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 tugger may be needed to move the load on a slope.   

Can they work outside?

Yes, all our electric tow tugs are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Our AllTerrain tow tug range is the ideal solution for the most challenging of environments.

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 customized solutions, you’re in safe hands with MasterMover.   

We're here to help 

If you’re looking to improve safety, remove the risk of injury and unlock greater operational efficiency, we’re here to help. Speak to our team to discuss your application.