How Tugger Train Systems Improve Material Handling Operations

Nutting Tugger Cart System in a Warehouse

Tugger train systems benefit the material handling processes increasing efficiency, reducing labor costs, improving safety, and reducing environmental impact.

Tugger train systems are growing in popularity in manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing industries as a cost-effective and efficient way to transport materials and products in and around your facility. These flexible and modular systems allow for easy customization and adaptation to changing intralogistics demands, making them an ideal solution for companies that require frequent transport of goods. This blog will explore the benefits of tugger train systems and how they can improve productivity and streamline operations in various industries.


What is a Tugger Train System?

These systems are primarily used for material transport in warehouses and distribution centers. They typically consist of a tugger vehicle (either manually operated or automated) that pulls a train of carts or trailers connected by a tow bar. The tugger follows a pre-determined route, picking up and dropping off carts or trailers often on a “just in time” basis.

Tugger train systems are useful for a variety of tasks, including transporting raw materials, inventory, and finished products to workstations, assembly lines, and more.


How do Tugger Trains Work?

Tugger trains pick up materials and products at designated locations around the facility, load them onto the load carriers or trolleys, and then drop them off at appropriate drop-off points along the tugger train’s designated route. Multiple load carriers allow for the transport of a greater number of loads in one trip around the facility.

Tugger trains are particularly useful in facilities with production lines requiring consistent material supply, but they also apply to many other operations.

Adjustable shelves on Nutting Carts can help provide flexibility to your warehouse operation.

Advantages of Tugger Train Systems

Tugger train systems offer a variety of advantages over traditional material handling methods. With their ability to efficiently move heavy loads, reduce manual labor, and improve material flow, they have become popular with companies looking to streamline their operations and increase productivity. Let’s explore why tugger trains are a smart investment for companies looking to optimize their material handling processes.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

Tugger train systems can increase productivity and support lean manufacturing production processes by streamlining material handling routes and reducing the time required to move goods between different facility areas.

These systems can further improve efficiency by utilizing the milk run method. Similar to how milkmen would only take trips to replace empty milk bottles left on doorsteps, these systems can identify which tugger train carts returned empty on the last run and load only those materials for the next run. This milk-run system allows for lean logistics and an efficient flow of materials, making it an excellent option for any material supply chain.


Tugger trains typically have a lower upfront cost compared to traditional forklifts, and they require less maintenance over time, which can result in long-term cost savings. The modular design of tugger trains also allows for easy customization, so companies can add or remove carts and trailers to adapt to the facility’s needs without purchasing additional equipment.

Improved Safety

Forklift trucks used to be the gold standard for the internal transport of materials and products. While they still play a role in production logistics, tugger train systems provide an alternative for many production supply operations, providing a safer means of transport in your facility.

Tugger train systems are designed to be safer than traditional forklifts, as they are often equipped with safety features such as automatic braking, obstacle detection, and audible alarms. They also typically follow dedicated transport routes, decreasing facility traffic and reducing the need for multiple return trips to pick up further supplies.


Tugger train systems can help reduce the physical strain on workers by eliminating the need for manual lifting and reducing the amount of walking and bending required to move materials. In addition, customized designs like ergonomic handles and effective cart height can further support employee comfort and safety.

Optimized resources

Tugger train systems can help optimize the use of space within a facility by allowing for more efficient storage and more organized systems for retrieving goods and materials.

Overall, tugger train systems offer a range of benefits that can help companies improve their material handling operations and reduce costs while improving workers’ safety and ergonomics.

Tugger Train Application

When you decide to employ a tugger train system in your material handling facility, there are three primary ways you can program your system to best serve your operational needs. One option is the permanent tugger train control, where the next tour begins immediately after the end of a route on a continuous loop.

On the other hand, workload-based control is a type of tugger train system application that only signals the next tour after a specified load is ready for transport or when a maximum amount of time has passed between the previous and current run.

Lastly, the clocked control method involves the departure of tugger trains at scheduled times according to a pre-determined schedule.

Types of tugger carts

When selecting material handling equipment, it’s important to know your options so you can choose the right system based on your unique material transport operation.

Manual Tuggers

These manually operated tuggers are typically used to transport smaller loads over shorter distances. They usually require manual loading and unloading of pallets and manual operation while in transport. These tuggers are a cost-effective solution for basic material handling operations.

Electric Hand Tuggers

Electric hand tuggers are powered by an electric motor, making them more efficient and easier to operate. These tuggers require less physical effort from operators, reducing risk of injury, and can handle moving larger loads over longer distances with ease. They are also more environmentally-friendly than their diesel counterparts and tend to be significantly quieter, which can improve workplace noise pollution.

Automated Tuggers

Automated tuggers or Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are self-guided systems that typically use sensors or lasers to navigate tight routes in the facility. These tuggers can be programmed to follow one specific route or respond to changing conditions in real time.

And with no human operator required, these tuggers can reduce idle time and optimize your employees’ productivity.

Tow Tractors

Tow tractors are particularly effective for operations requiring transport equipment that can handle a heavy load capacity while maintaining better maneuverability and efficiency than a traditional forklift.


Overall, tugger train systems offer many benefits for material handling processes in industrial settings. They can save time, increase efficiency, and reduce labor costs while improving safety and reducing environmental impact.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of tugger train systems for your facility, we encourage you to explore our new electric hand tuggers and consider the potential advantages of upgrading your fleet. Contact our team at Nutting Carts and Trailers today to learn more about our new electric tugger vehicles and how they can benefit your business.


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