Forklift ‘Brains’ Latest High-Tech Accessory

turningThere are lots of forklift accessories that help the vehicles lift different size and shaped loads. But now there’s a new kind of high-tech forklift accessory that can actually make the vehicle operate more intelligently.

ID Systems Inc., of Woodcliff, New Jersey, is now offering a PowerFleet Vehicle Management System (VMS) that remotely controls forklifts being driven by human operators so that they run safer, more efficiently and longer.

Constant Contact with the Entire Fleet

Forklifts are tethered to the system via an onboard computer that constantly communicates with the VMS via a WiFi connection. Information about each forklift’s speed, location and performance can be continually monitored and corrected remotely.

Sensors on the forklift can help detect collisions before they occur so the VMS can automatically take evasive action. And drivers are required to complete pre-shift safety inspections and wear their seat belts whenever on board the vehicle, otherwise the forklift won’t start.

Used by Some of the Biggest Companies

The technology already has been embraced by some of the largest companies, including Nestle, which recently signed a five-year contract to use the devices on its fleet of more than 700 forklifts located in 20 different facilities. That’s in addition to the 1,400 Nestle industrial trucks already equipped with the devices.

Ron Meredith, director of logistics operations for Nestle Waters North America, said the VMS provides the company with two things that are essential to its success: Information and safety.

“Nestle takes safety and sustainability in the workplace very seriously,” Meredith said in a news release.”Deploying a wireless vehicle management system on the industrial trucks in our manufacturing and distribution facilities helps ensure that only trained personnel have access to our equipment, and that they perform a safety checklist before operating it.

“Our VMS also has a smart impact sensor that helps influence good driving habits, reducing the risk of accidents,” Meredith said. “In addition, our VMS helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions by automatically shutting off trucks that are left idling.”

A Big Deal for the VMS Manufacturer

The deal with Nestle was a validation for what ID Systems was trying to accomplish in developing the VMS, according to chairman and CEO Kenneth Ehrman, who called it a “strategic initiative to accelerate new product adoption and facilitate more rapid scaling of our solutions with quality across large enterprises.”

Other companies using ID Systems VMS technology include Wal-Mart, or Bentonville, Arkansas, and Raymond Corp., of Greene, New York.

Faster Downloads with Fourth Generation Software Program

The latest version of the VMS features the fourth generation of ID Systems Vehicle Asset Communicator software, known as VAC4. The new software simplifies installation of the VMS on existing forklifts, reducing the entire download to less than an hour. The VAC4 also improves the vehicle operator’s experience and enhances the VMS’s functionality, according to the company.

Other companies that produce similar VMS products include Crown Equipment, Total Trax Inc., and Automotion Control Systems’ Speedshield subsidiary.




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