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New and Improved: Today's Lift Trucks

June 1, 2005
Although the basic task of moving pallets of goods and other materials remains the same, lift truck manufacturers are constantly developing new technology to make equipment safer and more efficient to operate.

Marketing folks like to talk about "features and benefits." The best marketing efforts, they say, start with the customer, emphasizing the economic, social and emotional benefits over product features. Technical specifications still matter of course—lift capacity, power type, travel speeds, unit dimensions, turning radius, battery life and so on— but lift truck buyers really need to understand how equipment changes and new features will make a positive impact on the performance of their operations.

Two of the most significant technical features that lift truck manufacturers are promoting today are compliance with EPA regulations for internal combustion machines, and AC power for electric units. Beyond the regulatory issue, lower emissions improve the work environment for operators and other workers. Newer engines can also be more fuel-efficient. AC-powered drive and lift systems reportedly deliver more runtime per battery charge, and because there are fewer parts to service, there are fewer maintenance requirements, which lowers maintenance costs.

Among the other features sported by today's lift trucks are a host of ergonomic developments, including easier access and roomier operator areas, user-friendly controls, suspension seats, tilt steering wheels, heated control handles and floor cushions for freezer environments, less cluttered masts for better visibility and various methods of vibration reduction. The immediate benefit of these ergonomic features are improved operator comfort and reduced fatigue, which translates into the business benefit of higher productivity and efficiency, as well as fewer accidents and less product damage. All of which can be easily quantified.

Less easy to quantify is the customer benefit of "contemporary" design and styling that is being touted by several manufacturers. What impact does using a sleek new machine have on operator morale? Answering that question is as difficult as measuring the impact of good design on our quality of life, or as simple as what it feels like to sit behind the wheel of the latest high horsepower sports car. Still, any investment that a company makes sends a positive signal to employees that it is economically healthy and willing to invest in new equipment that will make their jobs easier.

The benefits of improved power systems, ergonomic features and other new lift truck technology can add up to real cost savings for manufacturers and distributors. Check in with your local dealer to find out how these features might add up for your applications.

Articulated Electric Forklift Maneuvers In Tight Spaces

Aisle-Master (Clontibret, Ireland) has introduced a battery-powered version of its articulated forklift. The electric 40SE model is targeted at food, pharmaceutical and other sectors that tend not to use internal combustion equipment. With a maximum lift height of 30 feet, the versatile 4,000-lb. capacity machine can operate in palletized storage areas with aisle widths as narrow as 78 inches. Aisle-Master.

Pneumatic Tire IC Lift Trucks Maximize Uptime

The 3,000-7,000 lb. capacity pneumatic tire lift trucks from Cat Lift Trucks (Houston) feature a contemporary design and familiar rugged dependability. Fuel-injected gasoline, LP and diesel engines exceed the latest EPA standards. A full suspension seat and tilt steering improves operator comfort. To maximize uptime Cat has extended its recommended service intervals to 500 hours. An on-board diagnostic system controls critical functions and makes troubleshooting easier. Cat Lift Trucks.

Updated Three-Wheel, Counterbalanced AC Truck

Clark Material Handling (Lexington, Ky.) recently launched the TMX, the successor to its popular TMG three-wheel counterbalanced electric lift truck. Available in capacities from 2,500 to 5,000 lb., the TMX features 100 percent AC technology, which means there are no brushes to replace or service. The new model also has a rugged 3/8-in. steel frame, regenerative braking (to prolong brake life), an electronic differential (to ensure the tightest possible turns) and a roomy operator compartment. Clark Material Handling.

Updating a workhorse of the warehouse, Crown Equipment Corp. (New Bremen, Ohio) recently redesigned its walkie pallet truck. The WP 2300 features heavy-gauge steel and a larger drive motor, drive tire and torsion bar, for improved durability and lower cost of ownership. It also features an innovative handle with comfortable grips for cold, wet or dry environments; ergonomic control switches and buttons; and a durable design that stands up to frequent use and abuse. Crown Equipment Corp.

AC Power, Three-Wheel Lift Trucks

The new PRO 5 Series of lift trucks from Doosan Infracore America Corp. ( Warrensville Heights, Ohio) feature ACpowered drive and hydraulic motors, which improve energy efficiency, decrease maintenance needs and reduce overall operating costs. The three-wheel, 3,000-4,000 lb. capacity machines also offer a spacious operator compartment, suspension seats, adjustable steering columns, and ergonomically positioned hydraulic control levers to maximize driver comfort. Standard oil-cooled disc brakes are sealed to eliminate outside contamination and extend brake life. Doosan Infracore America Corp., Lift Truck Business Group.

New S40-70FT Fortis Line

Hyster Company (Greenville, N.C.) has introduced its S40-70FT Fortis lift trucks with capacities from 4,000 to 7,000 lb. The model line features multi-tiered engine/ transmission configurations that deliver improved fuel economy. Simplified hydraulic components and routing away from heat sources improves dependability. Optional joystick or fingertip hydraulic controls are integrated into armrest to improve driver comfort and reduce fatigue. Operator comfort is also enhanced by 20 percent more floor space and an improved seat design. Hyster Company.

Order Picker Reaches New Heights

The EKS 314 order picker is the first lift truck that Jungheinrich Lift Truck Corp. (Richmond, Va.) has designed specifically for the U.S. market. Three-phase AC motors extend the truck's in-service capabilities, as does a regenerative lowering and braking design that feeds energy back into the supply system. The unit handles loads up to 3,000 lb., reaches travel speeds up to 6.0 mph and achieves lift speeds of 72 ft./min. The truck has a maximum picking height of 32 feet. Jungheinrich Lift Truck Corp.

Ergonomic, Narrow-Aisle Lift Truck

The latest addition to the electric product line of Komatsu Forklift U.S.A., Inc. (Covington, Ga.), the ASX-BSX offers lifting capacities from 3,000-6,000 lb. The cushion-tire lift trucks— and 2,500-lb. capacity stand-up turret truck— feature electronic power steering and dual steer tires, which provide smooth and steady navigation in narrow aisles. Hand controls feature contoured grips for easy control of lift speed and steering. Lightweight cover provides fast access to maintenance areas. Komatsu Forklift U.S.A., Inc.

Three-Wheel, Rear-Drive Electric Trucks

Linde Lift Truck Corp. (Summerville, S.C.) designed its RX 50-16 three-wheel, rear-drive Class I electric lift truck for high-density applications. A variable wheelbase— the front axle moves over a 4 in. range— increases traction on inclines and improves safety when carrying loads (up to 3,500 lb.) while providing maneuverability in restricted areas. Regenerative braking feeds up to 15 percent of driving energy back to the battery when the pedal is released, lengthening the operating cycle by as much as 1.5 hours and reducing friction brake wear by 90 percent. Linde Lift Truck Corp.

Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks (Houston) recently introduced its line of 3,000-6,500 lb. Capacity N-Generation cushion tire lift trucks. Low profile counterweight design improves rear visibility. When the operator leaves a normal seated position, a new "integrated presence system" disengages the transmission, disconnects hydraulic lift and tilt functions and sounds an alarm if the parking brake has not been engaged. All engines exceed EPA 2004 emissions requirements. Optional wireless, legalfor-trade scale allows operators to weigh material during loading. Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks.

Reach Truck Optimizes Productivity, Efficiency

Model 7400 bidirectional reach truck from The Raymond Corp. (Greene, N.Y.) combines AC technology and ergonomic design. AC power provides fast acceleration, smooth directional changes, quiet and precise traction and lift, and long runtime per battery charge, as well as fewer parts to service and replace. Roomy compartment with contoured padding offers improved operator comfort. The 3,200-4,500 lb. capacity truck also features an open-view mast design that allows a clear view of base legs, load and rack.The Raymond Corp.

Narrow-Aisle Order Picker

The 7-Series, Electric Narrow Aisle Order Picker from Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A, Inc. (Irvine, Calif.) features a 24-volt electrical system that delivers efficient and smooth load handling. Latest microprocessor technology controls new anti-rattle mast staging, a spring suspension system and electronic disc brakes. Regenerative braking and stall protection extend motor and brake life. Spacious operator compartment and low platform height ease operator entry and exit. A spring suspension system isolates the vertical vibrations that occur while traveling to improve user comfort. Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc.

Pneumatic Tire Truck For Outdoor Applications

The latest model in the new Veracitor line from Yale Materials Handling Corp. (Greenville, N.C.), the GP-VX pneumatic tire lift trucks offer several options for outdoor applications. The new trucks come in a choice of five different engines (Yanmar 3.3 L diesel 2.6 L diesel, GM 2.4 L, Mazda 2.2 L and 2.0L) and four Yale transmissions. The three models within the 4,000 to 7,000 pound capacity line—Yale's Productivity truck, Value truck and Base truck— feature a variety of ergonomic and productivity enhancements. Yale Materials Handling Corp.

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