Much logistics activity takes place in areas of relatively high employment, so attracting and retaining staff has become an important issue for many companies. And a key element in that is giving staff more say in truck selection.
David Rowell, European operations manager at Hyster, says the company did a considerable amount of research into customer needs in the development of its new Fortens range, including a joint study with North Carolina State University into improving efficiency, while, at the same time, reducing fatigue. “The key to success is how well it can be used,” he says.
One of the results of this is the development of the “Touchpoint” electro-hydraulic controls – a system of mini-levers built into the armrest that replaces the traditional joystick. While a joystick is available for those who want it, some 90 per cent of customers now go for the “Touchpoint” system which is reckoned to reduce muscle fatigue by some 25 per cent.
Transmission technology has also come under close scrutiny and Hyster has come up with the “Duramatch” system which Rowell says lessens wear and damage and gives improved performance at lower cost. It has an auto-deceleration system that can be programmed to slow the truck with varying degrees of deceleration when the accelerator pedal is released. All the electrical systems on the truck are controlled by the pacesetter vehicle systems manager – a CANbus network which is sometimes described as the “brain of the truck”. This enables the truck to be programmed to suit individual application needs.
Drivers are hugely important in truck selection, says Rowell, hence the development of features, such as Touchpoint and performance adjustment, to appeal to the driver. Another important development is code entry, or keyless password, for the operator which can ensure that only qualified drivers use a truck.
Safety is an important issue and Hyster has developed the HSM stability mechanism which reduces the truck lean when turning by limiting the pivot of the steer axle articulation.
Earlier this year Linde came up with a radical new design of reach truck with the R14X-R17X models that have a mast permanently fixed to the chassis. Instead of the whole mast unit moving forward and back across the load legs, a traversing fork carriage performs the load reach and tilt functions. Putting the battery underneath the seat makes the operator’s compartment twice as spacious. Upright sections of the mast are set wide apart, giving clearer and broader view of the path in front and the load. Hydraulic mast locking results in high stability of the mast. Linde reckons this all gives productivity increases of up to 15 per cent compared to conventional reach trucks along with 73 per cent fewer reach motions.
Linde has been developing what it describes as a “matrix concept” to enable it to produce varied types of warehouse trucks from standardised components. At CeMAT it showed seven new models that were ready for the market within a short time of their inception.
Platform engineering is already well established in the motor industry. All warehouse trucks originating under the new system are marked by the use of complete functional units ready for final assembly and designed for multi-purpose application. Each truck comprises three modules. The drive module contains the motor, controller and electric power steering. The load module is made up of forks and mast or tow coupling as the case may be. They are complemented by the control module, which may be designed for pedestrian operation or with a folding or fixed rider platform when load transport over distances is entailed.
The first matrix concept warehouse trucks made their debut in March with the T20 SP/AP rider-platform pallet trucks, since joined by the T30 pedestrian pallet truck, the N20/N24, N20 L and N20 Li order pickers, the P30 and P50 tow tractors, and the L16 AS straddle stacker.
A rotating truck cabin was a highlight of the Jungheinrich stand at CeMAT. This is the practical implementation of the “Future Truck Study” that was presented by Jungheinrich five years ago. It is based on a Jungheinrich battery-powered truck from the 4 Series with a lifting capacity of 3,000 kilograms. The rotating cabin of the EFG D30 can be rotated 30 degrees to the left as well as 180 degrees to the right.
The company argues that as the trend is increasingly towards multiple pallet transports as well as towards unloading lorries at the side with a load lifting device for up to four pallets or latticed box pallets, the driver of a front forklift truck is finding that his view straight ahead is obstructed. Reversing has been unavoidable but in the long run can lead to severe stress on the spinal column. If the view ahead is obstructed by a load, with the Multipilot control the driver can rotate the whole cabin through up to 180 degrees and drive the forklift truck to its destination in an ergonomically faultless manner with the load at the back.
In another new development, Jungheinrich’s latest generation of reach trucks have an innovative wheel support arm construction that enable the Type ETV 110/112 or Type ETV 114/116 to accommodate Euro pallets lengthwise between the wheel support arms despite their small overall widths.
A key innovation in the new Komatsu AX50 and BX50 ranges is a system which blocks all hydraulic functions and truck operations when the operator is not on board for more than three seconds. The AX50 series is available in four models, two with diesel engines (FD15T-20R, FD18T-20R) and two with LPG engines (FG15HT-20R, FG18HT-20R), offering lift capacities between 1.5 and 1.75 tonnes while the larger BX50 series is available in eight models with capacities of 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 tonnes.
Hyundai has focused on operator comfort with its latest Dash-7 range of diesel and electric-powered lift trucks for Europe, including a new feature called Hydraulic Suspension System which provides a vibration protection and damping system for the cab, and which, together with quiet, anti-vibration engines gives a quieter environment.
The first of the new generation is the seven tonne capacity HDF 70-7s, soon to be followed by a five capacity HDF 50-7s. The ‘s’ is for short, making them particularly compact and manoeuvrable, with turning circles of just 0.336m and 0.327m respectively for these first two models.
Hyundai’s range of electric-powered trucks have also been updated, and the first two of four models in the new Dash-7 range have been launched: the HBF 25-7 and HBF 32-7 (2.5t and 32.t). New features include an enhanced self-adjusting servo-brake system which compensates automatically for brake wear, and a novel ZF transmission with manual, semi-automatic or full-automatic ‘soft’ gear shifting. Serviceability has also been improved with, for example, a wide, gas-strut-assisted battery-compartment cover for easy access.
A glimpse of the future has also been offered by Hyundai with the showing of a prototype HBF 30H-7. This ‘High-Voltage’ version, with an 80V battery will be available in Europe in 2006.
Intelligence is the key to Mitsubishi’s new counterbalance truck range – it has introduced a new generation control system. Among other functions, the controller governs an advanced safety feature – the Integrated Presence System which IPS detects whether the driver is correctly seated and, if not, prevents all hydraulic movement.
The SBC pedestrian powered counterbalanced stacker has been designed to meet the demand for a compact stacker that not only performs the work of a traditional forklift truck but that is versatile and can negotiate the smallest of spaces. Robert Stanley, managing director of Stanley Handling, says: “It has taken several years of design to develop the Robur SBC Powered Counterbalanced Stacker.
Toyota has developed a fuel cell hybrid system for forklift use, a first among forklift manufacturers. A prototype Toyota FCHV-F featuring the system was on show at CeMAT. The fuel cell hybrid system has been developed in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corporation.
Fuel cell technology significantly reduces environmental emissions. Using hydrogen as its main power source, a fuel cell forklift produces electricity without combustion and generates zero carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel cell forklifts have been gaining attention in recent years amid a growing worldwide trend towards environmental conservation, as they make use of innovative technology.
Fuel cell forklifts also contribute to cost reduction. Toyota says that although some technical issues remain to be solved before the use of fuel cell forklifts becomes widespread, these issues are expected to be overcome.
Fuel cell forklifts require minimal refilling and significantly less maintenance than electric forklifts, whose batteries must be periodically charged, refilled with water, and replaced. The system also ensures constant power delivery. Finding an order picker to work in a cave was a challenge for Octavian, the wine specialist. Eastlay’s mine in Wiltshire is a unique, 32 acre, fine wine storage facility but the floor is not smooth like a purpose-built storage facility and Octavian’s order pickers were not designed to run on uneven floors.
Consequently, this was resulting in up to 30 wheels breaking and shattering a year. Many cases of wine need to be hand picked and Allistair Cook, Octavian operations manager says: “The configuration of our old order pickers did not allow operators safely to lean and pick a case while standing in the machine,”
Western Lift Trucks and main UK Cat dealership Finning UK visited Cat Lift Trucks, the order picker manufacturer to establish if a bespoke machine could be manufactured.
Cat Lift Trucks produced a prototype order picker based on the Cat NOL and Cat NOL10KF. The prototype was trialled in the mine for six months. One of the main modifications was to increase the reach of the truck to 1.7 metres to ensure operators could reach high racking.
Doosan researchers found that seating position has a key role to play in repetitive strain and lower back injuries. A key factor in the position of the operator is the angle of the mounted steering column. The new Doosan B20X with gas spring loaded adjustable steering column allows complete flexibility on the steering column angle. The gas spring is a hydro-pneumatic adjusting element.
Atlet’s new range for distribution warehouses has been designed for high productivity and maximum up-time along with high levels of safety, advanced ergonomics and sophisticated on-board computer systems.
For pallet stacking and replenishment has introduced the Forte, the latest generation of its UNS Tergo reach truck offering enhanced performance, safety and ergonomics. The truck is also stronger and quieter, and its ATC on-board computer system has been developed to aid diagnostics and allow a high degree of driver-customisation. The Forte also has the TRAC remote diagnostics system.
The Forte is fitted with Atlet’s Stability Support System – S3 – that automatically provides higher truck stability by governing speed and acceleration, and the interface between speed and steering sensitivity. S3 automatically reduces the speed of truck functions in proportion to the height lifted, overrides unsafe manoeuvres and reduces jerkiness in the controls, a factor that complements the new smoothly-damped mast.