History of the ForkTrack Safety System – An Interview with Nathan McKenzie; Engineering Manager
Filed under: Safety
The ForkTrack safety system was developed in order to provide businesses with an advanced fleet management safety system. It combines advanced safety features with an unprecedented level of fleet efficiency, offering numerous benefits from reduced fleet running costs, to real time web based reporting.
This week, we have interviewed, Nathan McKenzie, Adaptalift Hyster’s Engineering Manager, in order to gain a better understanding of the ForkTrack safety system. This interview will determine the history of ForkTrack, along with the key features and challenges that were faced in its development.
Where did the idea for ForkTrack originate?
In the early 2000’s, the Victorian WorkSafe Authority began a campaign to combat workplace injuries, particularly in regards to injuries surrounding materials handling equipment.
As a result, a guide for companies utilising forklifts and related equipment was released. Our aim in the early days was to address as many of the key concerns raised in the guide “Forklift Safety – Reducing the Risks,” as feasibly possible using electronic means.
What are the key design features?
The key design features of the system revolve around active safety interlocks and driver feedback.
Ensures the operator has applied the seatbelt in the correct manner and in the correct sequence.
Ensures the operator applies the handbrake before leaving the vehicle.
Paperless pre-start checklist:
Ensures the mandatory pre-start inspection is completed, and the results are remotely transmitted to a manager.
Electronic driver ID:
Using site access cards, the system can allow or restrict access to a machine.
Monitors severe impact events and reports on direction, speed, magnitude, operator, date and time for further investigation.
Digital Load Weight Indicator:
Provides a form of feedback to the operator to ensure the load weight is within the capabilities of the unit.
Ensures the safe and correct operation of the transmission, improving driver practices.
What are some key milestones in the development of ForkTrack?
There have been several iterations of the product line, which have all been milestones in themselves.
The original unit, SSV1, was a bulky engine bay mounted product. Although very capable, it was also difficult to manufacture. Its sheer size made it awkward to install in the confines of a forklift chassis. Furthermore, both the SSV2 unit and the SSV3 unit were engine bay mounted, without the added benefit of a display to offer valuable information to the driver.
The first ForkTrack variant came to market in late 2006, and was an instant success. Software and hardware improvements saw a current release product come to market in 2009, with software and feature improvements continuing to the present day.
In regards to the development of the case and housing, how did you achieve such a high manufacturing quality?
The housing was designed around a need to meet IP67 compliance, as the environment that a forklift operates in is often harsh and unforgiving. The housing was extensively tested, and the system is quite capable of operating underwater for an indefinite period, unlike the forklift it is mounted to.
What were the key challenges faced in the development of the system?
Power supply design, vehicle integration and installation simplicity were key hurdles in the early days of the system. The gaining of knowledge through this process certainly galvanised the product and ensured the robust device we have today.
What do you see as future challenges?
As equipment becomes further advanced, some of the features of the current day products may become redundant. However, the single system approach across multiple platforms and the common compliance requirements of the modern workplace will ensure the future of ForkTrack for many years to come.
What new developments or additions do you see evolving with the system?
As technology evolves, systems and features that seemed unachievable 5 years ago begin to become a reality. Extended safety features involving equipment / pedestrian awareness and collision avoidance are certainly in the picture. The workplace of today, although a far cry from that of yesteryear, is still a place where people are injured all too regularly, and as advances are made in fields such as the automotive industry, we will be applying those in the industrial space.
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