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7 ways Forklifts are Evolving

Filed under: Technology

Over the years, forklifts have been used to perform the same basic function, to move a heavy load, from one place to the other. Even though this function has remained the same, the technology that is used in order to get the job done is constantly evolving. The evolution of the forklift and forklift technology is generally taken for granted.

The forklift has evolved in a variety of ways since its humble beginnings. This blog will explore seven significant ways the forklift has evolved in recent years.

Hyster forklifts

1. Smarter

Developments in forklift technology have resulted in a forklift that is much smarter than its predecessors. The entire supply chain process can now be tracked with new technologies, such as ERP systems, RFID’s and Zone Control, transforming forklifts into intelligent systems. Sensors can also be applied to forklifts in order to track the trucks movement and impact accidents.

• ForkTrack is a great example of this new technology. It provides fleet managers with an in depth, real time report of their forklifts and materials handling equipment. Other features include impact detection, impact shutdown, speed and zone control and operator ID control.

Picture of forkTrack

2. Customisation

It has now become increasingly common for manufacturing firms to request the customisation of their equipment. Customisation can range from optional extras through to structural alterations of the vehicle. Technology has allowed forklift manufacturers to provide solutions to applications that require special products. This is seen particularly within companies who are required to move extremely heavy or unusual objects and/or in complicated spaces that make it harder to operate.

• Retailers, such as, Combilift now offer customisation with many of their products. Combilifts GT Series is offered with the option of customising the desired platform length of the forklift.

Combilift GT

3. Hydrostatic Drives

Hydrostatic drive offers a faster and more efficient option than what has been offered in the past. Hydrostatic drive ensures there are no mechanical brakes to adjust or repair and access to components for servicing is more straightforward. This ensures maintenance costs are kept down. Unlike gear transmissions, hydrostatics have continual power curve with peaks and valleys and they can increase available torque without shifting gears.

• Combilifts Poultry Handler offers an all-wheel hydrostatic drive eliminating wear and tear of the drive system.

Combilift Poultry handler

4. AC (Alternate Current)

High performance, reduced maintenance costs and improved energy consumption are all advantages of an AC motor. AC motors ensure there is a longer time between recharging, meaning the machine can be used for lengthier periods. AC motors are completely enclosed which reduces the exposure and dust and with no motor brushes this means there is no sparking, resulting in less maintenance.

• Hysters E30-40XN series of electric forklifts utilise AC motors and transistor controller technology for all traction and hydraulic systems to reduce the frequency and cost of maintenance.

Hysters E30-40XN

5. Environmentally Friendly

As a result in the rising cost of fuel, more environmentally friendly technologies are being incorporated into forklifts. This can be seen clearly in the rise of electric forklifts on the market. Electric forklifts do not produce emissions, which is a bonus in today’s business world. Utilising electric forklifts eliminates the need for engine oil transmission fluid and radiator fluid which can be harmful to the environment. Furthermore, electric forklifts improve the quality of the air for employees and customers and are much quieter to operate.

6. Narrower in the Narrow Aisle

Narrow aisle trucks have become key as warehouses strive for more storage space.

• Nichiyu’s Aisle-Master provides 50% more pallet space in the same area. This lowers storage costs and reduces the number of lift trucks associated with the labour required. The Aisle-Master can operate in aisles as narrow as 1.98 metres.

Combilift Narrow Aisle Forklift

7. Ergonomics

With the realisation that improving operator comfort results in higher levels of productivity, ergonomics has become important in the design of forklifts. Many operator compartments now consist of features such as soft touch contoured hand grip, air conditioning, adjustable steer columns and non-slip tread. Ergonomically designed forklifts have also been recognised to improve employee retention rates.

The forklift has come a long way in recent years. It has become a more user friendly machine that benefits both the employer and the employee using it. Today’s forklifts offer more in the way of technology, power and performance than ever before, resulting in a smarter, more productive and reliable vehicle.


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