Australian Firm Offers Automatic Warning-Detection System for Forklift

A 360 degree pivot mount and cab alert sensor and cab alert speaker. (Courtesy: Orbit Communications)

A 360 degree pivot mount and cab alert sensor and cab alert speaker.
(Courtesy: Orbit Communications)

Orbit Communications, a manufacturer of forklift accessories system based in Wyong, Australia, has introduced BodyGuard, a detection and warning system that prevents accidents involving forklifts and pedestrians.

The system sets up a 360° invisible exclusion zone or bubble around a forklift and offers an audible siren sound and verbal alert that says, “Look Out! Person near you,” as well as a visual warning alert to the forklift operator when a pedestrian is detected within the zone.

The system offers:

· An alert system that ensures driver and pedestrian awareness.
· Alarms that alert both driver and pedestrians.
· Clear audible human voice warning and visual alert.
· Adjustable exclusion zone radius.
· Optional vehicle-to-vehicle detection up to 50 meters.

The system does not interfere with the normal operation of the forklift and includes three detector sensor tags that provide communication between a receiver on the forklift and transmitter worn by the pedestrian.

The Cab Alert Unit processes signals coming from a pedestrian’s tag and if the signal is

The cab alert unit. (Courtesy: Orbit Communications)

The cab alert unit.
(Courtesy: Orbit Communications)

received the voice and alarm warnings are triggered. There are two sensor units for each lift –- one for the front and one for the rear.

The lift operator can adjust the volume of the audible alert, the unit stores up to 6000 tag and/or vehicle detection events and it also includes a feature that alerts the lift driver to any diagnostic issues. In addition, the condition of the battery that powers the tags is stored along with the records of each detection event. This permits users to identify the tag that has the low battery so it can be replaced.

The history log also includes:

· Tag Detection
· Tag Cleared
· Vehicle Engine Started
· Vehicle Engine Stopped
· Mute Button Pressed
· Driver Tag Locked
· Changes of System Via Configuration Kit
· Diagnostic Information

Standard history log data is available through the Orbit web portal as an Excel spreadsheet. Optional weekly analysis and trend reports are available by subscription.

There is also a mute that the forklift driver can use to silence the speaker temporarily so that he can talk to pedestrians. The mute automatically turns off when the pedestrian moves out of the protection zone or another pedestrian enters it. A 12-volt or 24-volt battery is used to power the tags.

There are two types of sensor units –- a tag sensor that detects personal tags within the detection zone up to 10 meters and a vehicle sensor that detects other vehicles within the detection zone up to 50 meters. The sensors are made of heavy-duty fiberglass reinforced polycarbonate that is about 5 millimeters thick.

Personal tag units. (Courtesy: Orbit Communications)

Personal tag units.
(Courtesy: Orbit Communications)

A lightweight Personal Tag device is also included that is designed to be worn by pedestrians. The tags will activate the system only when they are detected within the exclusion zone. It cannot be accidently or purposely activated nor will it false alarm. A battery that lasts for about six months powers the tag depending how often the tag enters the exclusion zone during that period. The battery is replaceable and the tag is water-resistant and can be worn around the neck, placed in a pocket or on a belt, or attached to a hard hat.

The system can be set up to respond in three ways:

1. Driver only notification.
2. Pedestrian only notification.
3. Both pedestrian and driver notification.

A configuration kit is also available that assists in programming the system remotely. A Bluetooth link permits programming and enables access to the vehicle up to about 200 meters away. So the system can be programmed without having physical contact with the forklift.

A Tag Test Station is also available from Orbit that allows you to test the status of a personal tag before it is used on a work site.

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