Durability, Safety Boost Forklift Productivity

The newest models display improved electrical components and tip-resistant technology.


The newest models display improved electrical components and tip-resistant technology.

Lift trucks play an integral role in the daily operations of grocery distribution centers and foodservice warehouses. Managers know that conducting regularly scheduled maintenance can help extend the life of their trucks, but today’s manufacturers are helping with improved electrical systems and battery options.

Also boosting production capabilities are new comfort and safety features, which keep drivers injury-free and on the job day after day.

Dependability

With some facilities running up to three shifts seven days a week, it’s imperative to have equipment that can keep up with a demanding schedule.

Electronic component shortages can take a truck off the floor for more than a day. Lou Micheletto, warehouse products strategy manager, Yale Materials Handling Corp. of Greenville, NC, says “Typically in warehouse environments there’s a lot of dust and moisture in the air that can cause failures with the electronic connectors. So we use an IP-65, the highest-rated electrical connector, which is impervious to dust and low-pressure water, making it more dependable for the operation.”

Moisture is the natural enemy of any electrical device, but in frozen and cold storage applications, condensation is inevitable. To help prevent moisture damage, Toyota Material Handling USA Inc., Irvine, CA, has increased the moisture resistance of its electrical connections from 70 to 90 percent.

Recognizing the importance of electrical dependability, Toyota recently launched its 8-Series line of electric lift trucks with some improvements to their electrical system. The new trucks utilize Controller Area Network (CAN-bus) communication technology to provide precise, fast and reliable control of all truck functions with fewer electrical components. This technology greatly minimizes the chances of individual component failure.

Extended battery life can also keep lift-trucks operating longer. According to Susan Comfort, product manager of narrow aisle products, The Raymond Corp. of Greene, NY was the first company to pioneer the use of AC battery technology in lift trucks in North America. Raymond’s ACR System provides two primary advantages: increased energy efficiency and reduced maintenance costs.

“From an energy efficiency standpoint, the ACR System provides consistent performance as the battery discharges, so an operator won’t experience the deterioration of performance that occurs when using a DC system,” says Jason Smith, Raymond’s food industry segment manager,. “Increased performance means more time spent working and less downtime. One customer reported the ability to move 12 percent more pallets per hour and achieved 20 percent more operating time from each battery charge.”

Driving Productivity

It’s undeniable that a main factor driving productivity is the labor force itself. Comfortable operators are productive operators, so lift truck manufacturers have incorporated ergonomic designs into their trucks to ensure optimal productivity.

Maria Schwieterman, product manager for Crown InfoLink and Crown RR5700, Crown Equipment Corp., New Bremen, OH, says Crown is noted for its attention to operators.

“We realize an operator could be on their lift truck for eight to 10 hours a day, so it’s literally their office,” says Schwieterman. “People who sit or stand in one place for an extended period of time constantly shift their weight for relief. A feature such as an entry bar discourages operators from settling their feet outside the compartment.”

To make the cab more comfortable, and keep operators’ bodies fully inside the cab, Crown installs flexible floor boards to serve as shock absorbers. Crown also offers an S-Class series that allows drivers to fully operate the truck while sitting, standing or leaning, so he can change positions while remaining safe within the cab.

Tripping or falling while getting in and out of the lift truck may cause operators to miss work and file workers’ compensation claims.

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