FORKLIFT TECH TRENDS TO BENEFIT YOUR OPERATION
Forklifts have come a long way from the suspension-free, gas guzzling machines they once were. Technology has been able to make these trucks more fuel-efficient, if not completely electric. There has also been a bigger emphasis on safety and comfort of the operator. Now Yale is equipping new forklifts with additional sensors, improved tires and braking systems, and even automation to make forklifts more efficient and safer than ever before.
How can these forklift tech trends benefit your operation?
FORKLIFT BATTERIES WILL BE SAFER AND MORE CONVENIENT TO CHARGE
Most forklift today use lead-acid batteries as their main power source. While these usually work well, recharging them can pose a serious safety risk. First, they’re extremely heavy, with the average battery weighing over 2,000 pounds. Charging usually requires removing the battery carefully from the forklift, then completely charging for eight hours and cooling overnight in a separate battery room. Any mistake in the charging process and you can induce electrical sparks or acid splash.
Lithium-ion is the future of forklift batteries. These batteries have a higher upfront cost than their lead-acid counterpart, but last 3 times as long. This can save your entire operation on the back-end, especially when your whole fleet in equipped with lithium-ion. They also last longer between charges and you won’t see a decline in performance as the cells become depleted.
The biggest benefit of lithium-ion batteries may be the improvements to charging. Instead of removing the heavy battery from the back of the forklift, you just plug it right from the truck. Charging a lithium-ion battery takes a fraction of the time plus you no longer need to balance charging and cooling. You also lose the safety concerts that come with lead acid batteries, as you will never have to manipulate a lithium-ion battery. At the very least you can free up some warehouse space with no need for a battery charging room.
BETTER BRAKES AND TIRES LEAD TO A SMOOTHER AND SAFER RIDE
Some of the greatest wear and tear on a forklift (and its operators) comes from the sudden motion related to an overly-sensitive braking system. Jerking causes strain on pads, tires and engine parts that can cause whiplash, leg or back pain. As break pads wear further down, it becomes harder to accurately control the forklift.
Now the forklift tech trend is to add additional sensors to the trucks so that braking is more responsive and fluid. Much like the automatic brakes in newer models of cars, these sensors will help see the obstacles that you may have otherwise missed. Running over stray pieces of merchandise of collisions with racks can be avoided, saving you from operator injury or needing a costly repair. The sensors will also slow down a forklift when it takes corners, which will cut down on damage and tip-overs.
Tires are also getting smarter with special rubber compositions that make them softer without losing any traction. These tires help forklifts transition from rough terrain to smoother surfaces, which should help trucks that need to be used both inside and outside. The new compounds also help with fuel efficiency as the light, soft tire will decrease the amount of energy the forklift will need to use. Tire improvement may be one of the greatest lift truck tech trends, as they can be easily applied to a older or used forklift.
While other technology trends help you operate a forklift safer and more efficiently, the true game changer is automation. As some lifts become driver-less, warehouses efficiency will dramatically improve. Accidents from driver error should dramatically decrease, and loads can be racked and unracked faster and in tighter quarters.
The increased efficiency is possible because each forklift will use complex communication systems so that every automated forklift works in perfect unison with the others. This technology doesn’t eliminate your need for a highly trained workforce, but the future warehouse will have many smaller automated lifts, each performing one specific job. Movement will be swift, using an array of sensors that navigate the trucks through specific pathways and motions. Your labor force then acts more like managers, ensuring that workflow is optimized.
YKI CAN HELP YOUR KENTUCKIANA OPERATION KEEP UP WITH ALL THE FORKLIFT TECH TRENDS
You can utilize the experts at YKI to keep your fleet updated with the latest technological upgrades. Whether it’s retrofitting older models to utilize lithium-ion batteries or updating to a new truck, we’ll make sure your entire fleet is safer and more efficient. Call us at 888-269-3198 or contact us here and we’ll show you how new forklift trends can help your operation.