Forklift truck manufacturers have been lining up to extend their ranges of electric counterbalance trucks with heavier models, but that is not the only innovation.
The past year has seen a string of developments in counterbalance truck sector – notably at the heavier end of the market for electric trucks. Toyota has set out plans to extend its Traigo 80 range to five tonnes later this year. Yale has launched four to 5.5 tonne models in its VH series, while Mitsubishi has introduced new four to five tonne electrics.
And Linde has come out with four new electrics ranging from six to eight tonnes.
Toyota’s new heavy duty trucks will complete the Traigo 80 range so that it will run from two tonnes to five tonnes. The range is designed for a variety of applications: from stacking in narrow aisles with the more compact models through to heavy load handling in tough working conditions with the latest higher tonnage models.
It says the new four to five tonnes forklifts bring higher productivity thanks to improved driving speeds of up to 18 kmph, stronger acceleration and quicker lifting resulting in 15 per cent more pallet movements compared to its previous models.
The new range includes a five tonne model rated at 600 mm load centre – offering increased residual capacities and ideal for lifting longer loads or working with heavy attachments.
The Traigo 80 also offers longer operating time and longer service intervals as well as various energy management solutions. Energy consumption has been improved by up to 22 per cent compared to previous models. All the trucks are fitted with Toyota’s System of Active Stability.
Dave Rylance, Toyota’s counterbalance product manager, says: “The three newest heavy-duty models of the Toyota Traigo 80 range of electric-powered forklifts add to a highly versatile range of material handling equipment. All trucks fulfil the needs of the occasional or frequent user and are an asset in fleet operations and intensive applications.”
Yale has developed the ERC 40-55 VH series of for arduous applications that require precision when handling heavy loads. The range goes from four tonnes to 5.5 tonnes.
It is powered by a 21 kW AC traction motor. During operation, an auto deceleration system reduces the truck’s speed automatically whenever the operator’s foot is removed from the acceleration pedal. The VH series also features YaleStop, an automatically activated parking brake.
It has a stability enhancement system that automatically maintains the truck’s stability by optimising the steer axle’s geometry. This system also contributes to reducing the transmission of shocks and vibrations to the operator and load when travelling over uneven surfaces.
The VH series has been designed with reduced maintenance in mind, making use of CANbus and AC technology. A vehicle systems manager and auto regenerative braking contribute to reducing servicing costs and cost of ownership.
Mitsubishi’s FB40-50(C)2 series of four to five tonne trucks, comprises seven models, including compact and extended load centre models, and replaces the previous three-model series
AC motor technology has helped the range use up to 20 per cent less energy than previous models. The new trucks can run for up to 12.5 hours on a full battery in most applications.
Mitsubishi is targeting heavy applications, such as rental fleets and wholesale environments, where more hardwearing items, such as building supplies, glass and garden products are handled.
There two types of steering on offer, including electronic steering which improves performance by a further three per cent and reduces consumption by seven per cent.
Models feature an automatic parking brake to ensure trucks do not roll back unexpectedly on slopes, as well as a reversing alarm.
Linde’s new trucks are the culmination of a three year process of modernisation for the electric truck range. The new Linde E60 to E80 series comprises four models with load capacities ranging from six to eight tonnes, as well as one version with a load capacity of eight tonnes and a 900-millimetre centre of gravity.
The company points out that for many operating companies, such as those in the food industry, electrically powered trucks have become the solution of choice when investing in intra-logistics thanks to their lack of emissions and quiet operation.
“At the same time, this segment is also seeing the trend for higher load capacity classes, with a view to handling larger volumes of goods per cycle and increasing productivity.”
The 80-V trucks are equipped with encapsulated drive units with two 11-kW three-phase AC traction motors integrated into the front axle.
Maintenance-free oil bath multi-disc brakes with energy recovery and co-ordinated power modules also form part of the specification of the trucks.
Two 21-kW three-phase AC lift motors move the lift mast at lifting speeds of up to 0.46 m/sec and lowering speeds of up to 0.56 m/sec. The dual-motor front-wheel drive makes the truck easy to manoeuvre and turn within a turning radius of just three metres at a length of around 3.5 metres. Various drive modes can be selected to provide the ideal blend of performance and (energy) efficiency.
The vehicle speed and lifting/working hydraulics are controlled via the ergonomics concept with dual-pedal control and Linde Load Control. The Linde Curve Assist is also available to drivers as standard. This system reduces the speed of the truck in bends depending on the steering angle. Another feature is the automatic parking brake.
The use of AC motors in electric forklifts has been one of the notable developments over the past few years, as they are generally more powerful and cheaper to run than their DC equivalents.
When Flexi Narrow Aisle unveiled its next generation range of articulated forklifts at CeMAT earlier this year it highlighted the use of the latest generation of Zapi AC motor controller technology across the range.
“All models in the Flexi AC range will benefit from an upgrade to high quality Schabmüller motors, which provide more power and extended service life,” says Flexi.
John Maguire, sales and marketing director of Flexi Narrow Aisle, says: “All the trucks in the Flexi AC range are reliable and proven products and, when it comes to product development for the next generation, our policy has been one of evolution rather than revolution. However, by using what we believe to be the highest quality component parts from tier one European suppliers to upgrade all our essential truck functions, we have enhanced our entire range to ensure that Flexis continue to meet the ever increasing demands of the modern logistics environment.”
While much of the recent focus has been on the development of electric trucks, Jungheinrich has just launched a re-designed generation of IC-engine powered counterbalance trucks using ‘torque converter’ hydrodynamic drives.
The trucks come in capacities of up to 3.5 tonnes and a lift height of 7.5 metres. The new models – the DFG/TFG 316-320 and DFG/TFG 425-435 ranges – are powered by Kubota engines. “These new ‘torque converter’ trucks are rugged machines. Our engineers have driven costs out of the manufacturing process and produced a range that is tough and easy to service, while offering best-in-class operator conditions,” says Jungheinrich sales director Jonathan Morris.
There have also been developments to the trucks’ mast, chassis and steering axle. The counterweight on the new trucks is an integral part of the load-bearing chassis, while the steering axle has been integrated into the counterweight. This means that the truck’s centre of gravity is low for better stability without the need for additional and costly electronic stability systems.
The new model ranges feature an electric parking brake as standard. The operator presses a button to activate the brake, while a new lifting mast design ensures improved view of the payload, forks and general working area.
SAFETY: Fork Lift Safety Week
The Fork Lift Truck Association launched National Fork Lift Safety Week in 2008 to raise awareness of the dangers present within fork lift truck environments, and the importance of common sense measures that can make fork lift operations as safe and efficient as possible.
This year it will run from 22nd to 28th September and will take the form of an on-going campaign to keep safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds. For full details see here.
DRIVER: What comes after safety for the buyer?
Safety is a high priority for forklift truck buyers. But the range and extent of technological advances in materials handling equipment in recent years mean that for most, safety is no longer enough on its own, according to Peter Walker, head of major accounts at Impact Handling which is the UK distributor for Cat Lift Trucks.
“These days, after ensuring a machine has quality safety features as well as the relevant technical capability, buyers look for quality extras – on-board diagnostics, quieter equipment, economical running costs and high levels of comfort.
“They are thinking more and more about the end user – the operators and supervisors who will be working the machines on a daily basis, as well as other stakeholders they might be keen to impress such as health and safety officers or senior management. There is definitely a pride factor in buying materials handling equipment nowadays that has transferred from the automotive sector which shouldn’t be ignored by manufacturers,” says Walker.
Linde has launched the Linde Safety Pilot, an electronic driver assistance system which uses an eight inch LCD screen in the operator’s workstation to help the operator to control the work equipment safely and avoid dangerous situations, minimising the risk of an accident and improving occupational safety.
The operator is responsible for ensuring that the load lifted on the fork arms does not exceed the approved load capacity, that the load centre of gravity is taken into account and that the maximum lift height is not exceeded.
The Safety Pilot shows the operator the load centre of gravity; the load weight currently placed on the fork arms, the current lift height, the tilt angle of the fork arms and the maximum lift height up to which the load may be raised is also displayed.
If forklift truck drivers are working in critical areas or if operating errors occur, they receive a visual and acoustic warning from the Linde Safety Pilot, and the truck control unit also actively intervenes and regulates the truck functions.
For example, if an operator wishes to place a load on the shelf and is approaching the load capacity limit, the lifting speed is reduced. If the operator continues to lift the load and reaches the maximum load capacity, the truck is deactivated and safety-critical lifting and tilting functions are disabled.
The driving speed is managed in the same way, according to the load, lift height, tilt angle and load centre of gravity distance. In other words, the speed of the truck is decreased continuously if the operator lifts the load while driving.
The technology behind the driver assistance system relies on sensors that measure data at different points on the truck and then forward this information to the truck control unit. An electronic load capacity diagram – the cornerstone of the Linde Safety Pilot system – is thus created.
CASE STUDY: RPC win for Jungheinrich
Jungheinrich has supplied RPC, the packaging specialist, with seven new gas-powered counterbalanced trucks from its TFG range for use at its Blackburn site.
The TFG trucks feature hydrostatic drive engines, which allow the trucks to accelerate quickly and change direction smoothly making them suitable for applications which involve a lot of shuttling work.
The hydrostatic drive technology has only a few mechanical components, the trucks are low maintenance and easier to service. The new gas counterbalanced trucks also offered savings in fuel costs.
At the original RPC store, the ageing fleet of gas-powered forklifts had relied on bottled gas for their power, but a move to their own purpose-built facility allowed RPC to take advantage of the gas storage tanks that are in place at the site to refuel the trucks.
RPC Blackburn’s logistics manager Matt Bulcock, says: “We assessed a number of different lift truck options before settling on the Jungheinrich TFG range. We were impressed by the engineering quality, performance and reliability of the TFG trucks but the fact that Jungheinrich were also able to provide warehouse
The new trucks were part of a larger project at the Blackburn plant which produces a range of injection-moulded and injection blow-moulded containers.
In addition to a manufacturing unit, the Blackburn site also has two storage facilities: one houses products that are at the “work in progress” stage, while the other is used to store finished goods.
Due to previous growth, finished goods were held off site but RPC’s acquisition of a competitor prompted a rethink of the intra-logistics processes at Blackburn and it was decided that the company’s needs would be better met by the construction of a new warehouse unit within the boundaries of the main site.
The new 115,000 sq ft finished goods store provides capacity for up to 14,000 block stacked pallets and a further 2,500 pallet locations in a racking structure designed, supplied and installed by Jungheinrich.
The racking is served by a man-up Very Narrow Aisle truck – also provided by Jungheinrich, which takes advantage of wire guidance technology.
CASE STUDY: Stobart goes with Aisle-Master
Eddie Stobart has taken delivery of 25 Aisle-Master forklifts with another ten due for delivery later this year.
The majority of the fleet will be used for the picking and placement of pallets in the warehouse, but they may also be used for yard work and offloading. Initial trials identified the need for some modifications to the fleet, including changes to the steering column and overhead guard.
A crucial factor influencing the decision of Eddie Stobart to purchase forklift trucks from Aisle-Master was the provision of continual battery power to ensure a minimum of disruption during battery changing. Aisle-Master has installed three batteries for each unit, allowing a constant supply of power as one battery is in use, one is charging and one is charged and ready to go.
Graeme Undy, operations director for Eddie Stobart, says: “We have seen a marked increase in productivity levels at every site where the Aisle-Masters have been introduced which is good for our operators, good for us and therefore beneficial to our customers. The investment in this new fleet has certainly paid off.”
Originally printed in Logistics Manager 07/2014