Advanced Technologies Improve Lift Truck Operational Efficiency

The latest models feature a variety of high-tech innovations.


“Crown Insite gives our customers the ability to see the whole picture within their facilities,” explains Schwieterman. “Companies are inundated with so much data today—from conveyors to trucks. So they can be overwhelmed by all of this data. Our challenge was to take all of this data and produce it into usable information for our customers.”

Advancing Operational Excellence
Komatsu Forklift USA Inc.

Other technologies focus on the operability of the truck, such as the new three-wheeled electric truck with AC drive, hydraulics, and control power steering introduced by Komatsu Forklift USA Inc., Covington, GA.

“The total AC system is energy efficient, allowing the operator to get longer run times with the same battery charge,” notes Keith Allmandinger, senior marketing manager. Full-suspension seats and proportional hydraulic control with thumb-operated directional controls enhance operator comfort.

CAT LIFT TRUCKS

“These days new technology really focuses on the operator and truck uptime,” says Ross VanderLaan, marketing manager for Houston-based Cat Lift Trucks. Cat’s Presence Detection System (PDS), introduced a few years ago, caught OSHA’s eye because it helps ensure operator safety in the warehouse. It will not allow the truck to move, nor will it allow the hydraulics to operate if the operator is not sitting in the seat. “With the introduction of this technology, features such as hydraulic disconnects are being written into OSHA lift-truck standards.”

Truck programmability is another advancement helping optimize operations.

“As we move to AC technology and toward electric trucks over internal-combustion-engine trucks, we can help warehouse managers and operators to program the truck to meet the specific requirements of the application,” reports VanderLaan.

Some of these options include programming the truck to optimize performance for longer runs, or not to be as aggressive with acceleration or other performance characteristics for new operators.

“You can also program the truck not to operate over a certain speed limit within your facility. So being able to program allows operators to fit with the machine they are assigned to work with.”

VanderLaan adds that Cat lift trucks easily adapt to specialized attachments used in the food industry—such as terminals, scanners, front-end equipment and layer pickers. Most of the controller technology is developed in-house, which is another benefit.

“Many controllers on the market today are one big unit and if anything happens, the entire unit needs replacing,” VanderLaan explains. “However, ours is a modular design and we believe this technology lowers replacement and maintenance costs.”

CLARK MATERIAL HANDLING CO.

Clark featured its 100-percent AC-designed 80V GEX20 through GEX32 series at the ProMat show.

“We introduced our 80-volt electric trucks into the North American market in 2008, after the success they had in Europe,” says Bo Maslanyk, director of sales for the Lexington, KY-based company. “These trucks are very quiet and efficient, with no emissions. They have the power and speed of ICE units because of the extra voltage from the 80-volt battery.”

The trucks in the GEX series are well-suited to the food industry. “These trucks are designed to work effectively in damp applications and their solid pneumatic tires are great for indoor and outdoor applications,” notes Maslanyk. Enclosures protect heavy-duty AC drive motors from debris and moisture.

From an ergonomic perspective, the trucks’ low center of gravity provides a stable work environment. Full-suspension seats provide driver comfort throughout a shift. The trucks are designed with wet-disk brakes, enclosed in oil to keep them cool, allowing longer life.

New cab options include heating and air conditioning features, again, with operator comfort in mind. Optimum thermal protection is standard on the motors and the controls, explains Maslanyk.

“With the thermal protection, if a component starts to overheat, the control automatically and gradually cuts power to allow that component to cool. Full power is automatically restored once the component reaches the acceptable temperature,” says Maslanyk.

HYSTER CO.

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