What's the Big Idea?

Two material handling companies brought home awards from this years' International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). The awards, created by Industrial Designers Society of America, are dedicated to fostering business and public understanding of the importance of design excellence to the quality of life and the economy.

There were 81 winners of the 2007 International Design Excellence Award, two in the industrial category are of particular importance to material handling.

Receiving a gold award was Crown Equipment (New Bremen, Ohio) for its electric walk-behind lift truck, which are used in smaller warehouses and retail facilities to transport pallets, pick orders, move heavy items or simply serve as a portable, adjustable-height work tool. According to the judges' report, Crown’s new series of stackers offers many innovations over previous models while still maintaining the robustness and durability the brand is known for. The groundbreaking X10 handle has significantly improved ergonomics by allowing all primary controls (lift, travel and horn) to be activated simultaneously and comfortably with just one hand. Also standard on all models is a large storage tray for tools, pens, knives, etc., as well as a bungee strap to secure loose paper—all within easy reach of the operator. The ST, SX and WF stackers have far exceeded expectations, increasing stacker sales by over 90% worldwide.

“Crown sets the standard with an extremely well-planned, intuitive, attractive, functional and appropriate product. You just want to use it,” said Robin Edman, CEO, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation

Receiving a bronze award was the WT4000 wearable computer made by Motorola, Schaumburg, Ill. The judges' statement said, this arm-mounted mobile computer allows warehouse workers to more efficiently fulfill orders. It consists of three devices: a computer terminal, a barcode scan ring and a hygienic arm-mount holder. The oversized trigger on the barcode scanner reduces fatigue, and because of its unobtrusive profile, it won’t interfere when lifting and transporting boxes. The use of spacer fabric for the arm-mount holder allows the arm to breathe, and a stainless steel and plastic frame provides the necessary rigidity when attaching and removing the computer terminal. The large graphic display on the terminal ensures fewer mistakes, while an embedded radio automatically communicates tracking data to the warehouse, enabling rapid, just-in-time movements of inventory. Customers have reported a 30% increase in productivity after deploying the WT4000.

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