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f+h Intralogistics 3/2015

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f+h Intralogistics 3/2015


INDUSTRIAL TRUCKS I FORKLIFT TEST Finding the right forklift What criteria must the perfect forklift truck meet for the task at hand? All of the tests that we have completed on various industrial trucks over the last few years have highlighted that fast driving and lifting are not the top criteria to ensure the required handling capacity is achieved. The perfect forklift is equipped with a stable handle on the left and preferably also on the right hand-side to help the driver get in the cab. This handle must be easy to reach and provide sufficient support regardless of the height of the driver. Additionally, the roof pillar strut, to which the handle is attached, should not get in the way when getting in the cab and should also ensure that the driver has enough space to move his shoulders. A sufficiently wide, deep and non-slip tread that is also clearly visible from the driver‘s seat is certainly preferable when getting in and out of the forklift. Sufficient leg space in the entrance area and rounded body contours are equally as important. The cab floor should also provide sufficient leg space and be free of any obstructions. Everything about the driver‘s seat When it comes to the comfort of the driver, aspects relating to seating are just as important as getting in and out of the cab. The seating position must be able to be carefully adjusted to the height and weight of the driver, so that he is not positioned too high or too low. The seat itself should be equipped with sufficient damping characteristics to reduce any physical strains in the vicinity of the driver‘s spine. It must be ensured that the pedals are not positioned too high up so that the driver‘s lower leg muscles are not permanently strained. The pedals should also have a non-slip design, be easy to operate, and ensure that the driver‘s right shoe does not get caught when moving the foot from the accelerator to the braking pedal. And last but not least, there should be a enough easily accessible storage spaces for work tools and personal items to ensure the driver is comfortable. Operating controls: steering wheel and mast The steering wheel also has a significant impact on the design of the perfect forklift. It should not be too big or too small and should be positioned at the correct distance from the driver‘s left arm even if the steering knob is located at the furthest possible position. A slim and infinitely height-adjustable steering column is definitely advantageous. A steering system that always has the same steering wheel position when driving straight ahead makes it easier and safer to handle the forklift. Years of testing experience have highlighted that when it comes to steering, the handling of the forklift should, as far as possible, meet the driver‘s expectations. This prevents any adjustments when steering and determining the driving speed. When it comes to the mast control system, it is important that the (small) levers are easily accessible with the right hand. The initialized mast functions must result in the exact fork and mast movements that the driver expects. Faulty operation must definitely be preventable. Visibility Compromises always have to be made when it comes to the view of the load, fork, through the mast, and across the working environment from the driver‘s seat. That has been confirmed in nearly all of our tests. Well-positioned struts (with cleverly designed contours) on the driver‘s cab, for example, limit the amount that visibility is impaired. A panoramic roof made of safety glass is only ever sensible if there is no reflection and it can be kept clean. The design of the mast profile, as well as the arrangement of chains and hoses, help 16 f+h Intralogistics 3/2015

FORKLIFT TEST I INDUSTRIAL TRUCKS to prevent the loss of visibility. In addition, there must be a good view of the tips of the forks within the entire working range of the mast. An excellent view of the route from the forklift is also extremely important. Visibility of the load and fork are limited by excessively high fork carriage profiles. Hoses and connections for the side shifting device are often located in the field of view and restrict it. The view to the side of the forklift is often minimized by wide struts at the rear of the protective roof. Not to mention the exhaust system tailpipe that is in the driver‘s direct line of sight when looking over his right shoulder to reverse. From vibration to driving behavior In addition to access, ergonomics, operation, and safety, our tests repeatedly highlight that noise, vibrations, and shocks have now become important factors that have an impact on the driver‘s wellbeing and often play an important part in the procurement decision process. Vibrations and shocks affect the driver. However, the driver is not just affected by these impacts through the floor and tires. When lifting, lowering, braking, steering, and positioning the forklift, the mast transfers these movements on to the driver. The more rigid the mast construction and better the damping on the mast transitions, the more favorable the effect on the driver‘s health while also increasing working comfort and safety. When driving and working it is important that the forklift does exactly what the driver expects, whereby the tires play a significant role. A good quality, stable tire guarantees predictable driving behavior. In this regard, the role of the driver assistance systems should not be forgotten, as they minimize the consequences of possible operating errors, while also increasing stability and safety. Power and usage Our test experience has proven that fast acceleration and high speeds do not play a decisive role in an optimally utilized forklift truck. It is, for example, much more important to achieve a relatively cost-effective average speed. In light of the above, a speed of 15 km/h for electric forklifts in the 2.5 ton class suffices to achieve an excellent output on our test course. A speed of max. 13 km/h applies to devices with lower load capacities and 12 km/h is a reference value for high-reach forklifts. While 17 km/h is more than sufficient for forklifts with combustion engines that are used outside. The following applies for all types of forklifts: Faster speeds are only ever advantageous if routes are longer than 75 meters and do not have any interruptions or crossings. Average lifting and lowering speeds also suffice to achieve efficient utilization. We believe a speed of 45 to 50 cm/s when lifting and lowering the fork is perfectly adequate to be able to work swiftly. The effect of the optimum average speed is particularly reflected in the energy consumption. Fewer corrections, as well as slower acceleration, and less driving when working result in lower energy consumption. Our measurements during testing demonstrate time and again that limiting the acceleration and maximum speed to 70 percent of the relevant maximum value does not result in a significant loss of productivity. However, lower energy consumption can sometimes result in a 20 percent gain and ensures more predictable and safer operation. Text and Photos: Theo Egberts, Andersom Testing MULTIMEDIA CONTENT Archives: Learn more about the test results of Manitou‘s MI 25 G LPG forklift truck Solutions and Services for your Company’s Success EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS TO GERMANY AND EUROPE Archives: Learn more about the test results of Nissan‘s TX3-18 electric three wheel forklift truck Business Development Marketing & Sales consultancy and services Financing Industry networks For further information please contact Archives: Learn more about the test results of Linde´s E25 electric four-wheel forklift truck WIRTSCHAFTSFÖRDERUNG hannoverimpuls f+h Intralogistics 3/2015 17 Hannoverimpuls.indd 1 13.03.2015 08:18:34


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