Big Joe Forklifts launches autonomous division

big joe forklifts
Big Joe Forklift’s first collaborative robot, BUD.| Source: Big Joe Forklifts

Big Joe Forklifts announced that it created an autonomous division to better serve its customers as manufacturing environments increasingly look to adopt new technologies.

The company’s goal for the new division is to create simple machines that can be set up and start delivering a positive return on investment (ROI) on its first day. Earlier this year, Big Joe unveiled its first robot, a “User Directed” collaborative robot (cobot) named BUD.

BUD, which stands for Big Joe’s User Directed Pallet Mover, can be controlled using a simple onboard tablet that connects to the cobot with a cloud connection. The cobot autonomously drives along custom missions after a user manually loads a pallet and directs it with the tablet.

“Big Joe is known for making small utilitarian lift trucks matched to a task, and what we are preparing for customers is so well aligned with what we have done for over 70 years. It is just hugely exciting for everyone involved with the brand,” Bill Pedriana, the chief marketing officer at Big Joe, said.

Big Joe has been preparing for the launch of the new division by building a team with several new hires, including Nick Malewicki, the general manager of the division. Malewicki previously spent over 18 years at Pactiv Evergreen, a manufacturer of fresh food and beverage packaging.

Malewecki held a variety of positions in his time at Pactiv Evergreen, including director of supply chain engineering, senior automation engineering manager and packaging engineering manager. At Big Joe, he will focus on making automation easy and practical for customers to understand and deploy.

“My intense immediate focus is on commercialization and preventing scope creep temptations as we move into 2023. Our upcoming autonomous products are on track to be simpler and lower priced than traditional offerings that our distribution partners and potential customers will simply be amazed,” Malewicki said. “Our big differentiation is that we will be able to quickly and successfully deploy autonomous products that actually work, every day, and exceed end-user expectations. As a former end user, I couldn’t be happier to be building a team and leading our efforts to deliver on that promise for our customers.”

Big Joe plans to announce more details on its autonomous division’s products and technology partners during the first quarter of 2023.

Written by

Brianna Wessling

Brianna Wessling is an Associate Editor, Robotics, WTWH Media. She joined WTWH Media in November 2021, and is a recent graduate from the University of Kansas. She can be reached at