SOUTHFIELD–Pro-Tech Group LLC, a minority-owned company providing logistics and supply chain management equipment, announced it had been granted United States Patent No. 11,518,660, for a bi-directional loader.
Pro-Tech chose Roush Industries Inc. to complete a feasibility study and build a working prototype for pilot testing in the fourth quarter of 2023.
“First and foremost, we couldn’t be more thankful for the support from Roush and our partner GameAbove Capital in helping make the bi-directional loader a reality,” said Earle B. Higgins, Pro-Tech CEO. “Safety and speed are at the forefront of our decision to pursue this innovation further. Having a machine of this kind in the logistics and construction industry is long overdue. What is in the market serves its purpose. However, due to the size and mechanics, current machines present significant safety concerns for the operators and surrounding workers when moving forward and backward. We believe the number of telescopic loader-related incidents, injuries, and deaths reported across the globe to be considerable enough for a product like ours to be utilitarian. Our bi-directional loader will improve worksite safety and the speed of handling cargo and other items.”
The core workings of the bi-directional loader are to allow the operator to swivel the cab 180 degrees to face the direction in which the loader is traveling. The mechanics eliminate driving the loader in reverse while looking over the shoulder and entirely relying on a spotter, side and rearview mirrors, and sensors. The bi-directional loader enhances visibility and offers better maneuverability around tight construction sites and cargo distribution centers.
The bi-directional loader complements Pro-Tech Group’s flagship product, the Pro-Tech Container (PTC)—an industry-first, patented, railroad industry-approved, collapsible shipping container designed for autoracks. Today, the PTC can be transported in and out of autoracks and through distribution centers using a modern telescopic loader. Through testing with a major automotive leader in 2020, the time of operations for handling the PTC was considered satisfactory for logistical efficiencies. Pro-Tech Group estimates a decrease in PTC handling time of up to 50% by substituting today’s standard telescopic loader with the bi-directional loader.
“We could not be more excited to have the bi-directional loader go to market soon,” Higgins said. “Not only will it improve our container system, but a variety of companies and industries will benefit from this innovation. Our patent also allows us to explore the mechanics of the rotating cab on other machines and we will implement the technology where it is considered necessary.”
Pro-Tech Group chose Roush, a Livonia-based company specializing in engineering, prototyping, testing and manufacturing services, Michigan, to solidify the feasibility study for the prototype of the bi-directional loader. “When we were looking for a company to support this initiative, Roush was the top choice,” Higgins said. “They are widely known for their ingenuity and exceptional team of engineers. Roush is the type of company that can bring something this game-changing to reality.”
Said Steve Wesoloski, Roush business development manager: “The uniqueness of the bi-directional loader is a new challenge for us, and we are confident in our expertise to build a fully working prototype for real-world testing.”
Pro-Tech Group introduced the Pro-Tech Container in 2020. Explicitly intended for U.S. automakers, the PTC capitalizes on deadheading autoracks after successful long-haul automobile shipments across the country. That same year, Pro-Tech Group entered its investment partnership with GameAbove Capital to complete testing and further product development.
Through Pro-Tech Group’s study of the automotive shipping industry, it is estimated that automakers can save nearly $10 million annually using the Pro-Tech Container system. Pro-Tech Group has received recognition for the PTC from Canadian National, Ford Motor Co., The National Association of Black Suppliers, and Stellantis.