Advanced Technologies Improve Lift Truck Operational Efficiency

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


The first in the series of next generation of Hyster electric lift trucks—the E45-70ZN—was unveiled at ProMat. “This truck is the precursor of four others that will be introduced throughout 2009,” says George Marshall, director of sales development for the Greenville, NC-based company. This series will have weight capacities ranging from 3,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds.

Marshall says this generation of electric trucks, with enhanced transistor technology, will compare to the traditional performance expected of ICE trucks, known for their superior performance in terms of speed and lift capabilities. “The typical speed of an internal-combustion-engine truck is in the 12 mph to 13 mph range, and our trucks will get pretty close to that—up to 11.5 mph.”

Marshall notes that Hyster selects its components for this series primarily from a single source. “Many trucks out there have multiple motors such as drive motors and lift-pump motors. What we tried to do is use the same manufacturer so all of the components can tie in with each other and work more efficiently. This allows for an increase in efficiency on the order of 5 percent to 15 percent, depending on the application.”

He adds that the advanced technologies in today’s new motors have improved significantly with respect to lift and lower capabilities.

According to Marshall, industry evidence shows that productivity drop-off rates during the last two hours of a shift can be as high as 30 percent. “So the challenge for every OEM designer is to keep operators less fatigued so they can remain productive during those last two hours.”

YALE MATERIALS HANDLING CORP.

Yale introduced its ERCVG series of electric rider trucks last month at ProMat. One of the key attributes of this series is its ergonomic design that accommodates any size operator.

“We believe our new options with advanced ergonomics will help keep the operator comfortable so he can work longer and more productively throughout his shift,” says J.B. Mayes, manager of target marketing and analysis, at the Greenville, NC-based company. The trucks handle weight capacities of 4,500 pounds to 7,000 pounds.

With operator comfort in mind, Yale increased significantly the space for operators’ feet as they operate the truck’s controls. “We designed innovative component placement to enhance operator visibility,” says Mayes. “We also added storage space for operators to keep their cell phones, clipboards, drinks, and other personal accessories they might need in order to maximize their driving experience.”

A vehicle system manager, or single master brain, monitors trucks in this series. “The goal is to have the truck run as efficiently as possible by using less energy than ever before,” explains Mayes, adding that travel speeds and lift speeds can be increased to the point where they rival ICE trucks.

Other options also highlighted at ProMat include Yale’s NREA and NRDA models with improved ergonomics to aid operators when they drive their trucks in the direction opposite to the load.

“We have an aft-travel control handle that improves the driving position and the truck’s control in that driving position,” Mayes says. Another option is Smart Coast Control, available on the MPE model, which helps simplify the operator’s motions as he advances the truck from point to point, gathering products.

NEW HORIZONS

The new technologies built into today’s lift trucks enhance the operation of the trucks and provide valuable information to upper management so they can understand the workings of their own warehouses.

Although all the data collected throughout the warehouse can sometimes seem daunting, today’s lift truck manufacturers have systems that transform pertinent data into usable and actionable information so companies can make better business and operational decisions.

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