176: Discussing Logistics, Automated Forklifts, and Craft Beer with Big Joe Forklifts' Nick Malewicki

What’s new in the forklift and logistics industry? According to Nick Malewicki, the General Manager of the Autonomous Vehicle Division at Big Joe Forklifts, we’re seeing smart forklifts, more automation, and better safety features in equipment. 

Nick joins Manufacturing Happy Hour to talk about his role and career and shares some insights into his own passion for solving problems, which has been a major theme throughout his career.  

We hear how Big Joe Forklifts provides safer ways of managing and picking goods in warehouses and the differences between autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs). 

We also chat about some excellent beer at Eagle Park Brewing in Milwaukee, Nick’s favorite Pulp Fiction character, and what a “joey” is in the forklift world.  


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. The main difference between AGVs and AMRs is the flexibility. AGVs typically have a fixed path and if there’s an obstruction, work comes to a halt. AMRs on the other hand, can work autonomously. 
  2. Workplace injuries are the biggest cause of absences in factories and warehouses. But with better-designed, safer equipment, injuries can be avoided 
  3. The future of forklifts is smart, autonomous equipment. The technology is available, it can just be expensive for companies to invest in it as well as the training needed to go along with it. 

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “The number one mindset is to make ergonomic equipment that prevents injuries but also makes employees’ jobs easier. We want to empower workers. We don’t want to make their job harder.” 
  • “Automation is super important. The percentage of companies that are increasing their investments into automation continues to grow. But a big obstacle of that is the financial impact and as well as the training.” 
  • “Forklifts are getting smarter. They’re becoming autonomous. There’s telematics now. And all of these innovations enhance safety and operator comforts.” 

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What We Discuss with Nick

  • What the future holds for the forklift industry and how technology is propelling change 
  • What the manufacturing and logistics scene is like in Wisconsin  
  • How Wisconsin’s proximity to the Great Lakes is a major plus for the industry 
  • How Nick first entered the world of logistics  
  • The benefits of entering the working world before deciding on a college degree 
  • Why Nick is always keen to pick roles and industries with challenges and a need for problem-solving 
  • How Nick grew his career by volunteering for and jumping on new opportunities 
  • What brought him to work for Big Joe 
  • How Nick’s logistics experience came in handy in his current role 
  • The difference between AMRs and AGVs and the challenges of integrating them 
  • How Big Joe’s equipment helps to avoid injuries and makes work easier for employees 

Recommended Resources

  • Eagle Park Brewing, a great Milwaukee brewery, which Nick and his wife have been members of for years 
  • Big Joe Forklifts, for over 70 years, Big Joe has supplied electric forklifts to factories, warehouses, and storerooms across the U.S. 

Connect with Nick and Big Joe Forklifts

LinkedIn | Big Joe Forklifts