It’s expected that if electric fuel cell technology continues to garner more interest within the industry in the coming years, the technology will advance to an integrated design. According to Kenro Okamoto, Toyota Material Handling U.S.A. product support specialist, “We believe the next step in fuel cell technology would be to incorporate the components of a fuel cell within the lift truck.”
Frank Devlin, manager, advanced technologies at Raymond, also sees potential for the future of electric fuel cell technology: “The fuel cell manufacturers are coming out with some new designs in the next few months that should be a little more cost effective and simpler in design.”
Although sustainability trends are a popular movement among the lift truck industry, there’s also continuing focus on enhancing an efficient work environment.
The latest innovations for maintaining ergonomics include wireless fleet and operator management systems. Crown Equipment’s InfoLink is the company’s latest wireless management system software and equipment offering. “It reports back to supervision,” explains Crown’s Gaskell. “It reports all of the data about the truck and what the truck is doing.”
InfoLink provides the client with the history of each lift truck and operator on a user-friendly interface, which can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. InfoLink includes truck sensors, which can assist in tracking any lift truck impacts or accidents. When an impact or accident does occur, the sensor sends out an immediate notification to management and also provides a detailed history of previous impacts and accidents.
The product also helps improve sustainability by providing a thorough review of the battery, which includes features such as: how often the battery is switched out, how long it takes to charge the battery, and how long the charge cycles are. These features help to calculate energy costs and track battery usage while simultaneously decreasing downtime.
“Wireless devices on trucks are becoming more and more common,” notes Raymond’s LaFergola. “As far as a trend is concerned, I can see in the not too distant future where these things will actually be integrated into the truck.”
Although lift truck equipment and accessories haven’t had any recent landmark changes, there are some noteworthy developments that can help companies achieve higher levels of efficiency, safety, and cost effectiveness.
There have been many types of model updates over the past few years. One worth noting is on-demand hydraulic systems. Yale Distribution of Chillicothe, IL is one manufacturing who has started to use on-demand hydraulic systems for their lift truck equipment.
“With some of our newer products, we’ve switched to on-demand hydraulic systems, which allows the vehicle to only operate the hydraulic pumps when they’re specifically called for,” says Bill Pfleger, president of Yale Materials Handling Corporation.
“In previous technologies, the hydraulic pumps operated all of the time even though there was no need or specific requirement of lifting or lowering,” he continues. “This allowed us to improve our fuel savings and make the trucks more efficient.”
The wheels and tires require the most frequent maintenance on lift truck equipment. There have been recent advancements with lift trucks’ wheel technology, services, and traction control systems in order to lessen repairs and preserve a safe environment in the warehouse. One major way to lessen frequent repairs while preserving a safe workplace environment is to try and maintain a very clean floor.
“Typically, when the wheels fail, the most common cause is from running over some sort of debris that got embedded in the wheel, which eventually starts to destroy the wheel,” says Crown’s Gaskell. Along with promoting a safer environment, Crown offers an integrity wheel program to assist customers in getting the best wheel(s) possible for their lift trucks. “Our goal is to make sure the customer can maximize or optimize the life of everything—from the wheels all the way through to the whole truck.”