Forklift Innovations

Automated guided vehicles (AGV) is just one recent innovation that makes forklifts more efficient. (Courtesy Lynn Wong)

Automated guided vehicles (AGV) is just one recent innovation that makes forklifts more efficient.
(Courtesy Lynn Wong)

Technology is always evolving. I bet if you compared the forklift you use today to one your father may have used maybe 10 or 15 years ago, you would find a plethora of changes that result in easier and more efficient operation. But, what is so good about technology today is that we don’t have to wait a decade or more for improvements to lifts. Now many enhancements are taking place within a year or quicker.

For example, since this time last year there have been a number of enhancements to the forklift and devices that you want to use in it. Either you may not have noticed or you no longer give them a second thought.

Here is an example of five improvements that have occurred faster than a decade.

· Mounts. The operator of a forklift more than anyone else knows about the extreme amount of vibration that occurs when driving a lift. That shaking makes it difficult to use such things as a tablet computer that could help you perform your job better. Moreover, the quaking can internally damage these devices if you tried to use them. These somewhat sensitive gadgets can also fail when used in the extreme conditions of heat and cold often encountered when driving a lift. Well, now there are device mounts that attach to the lift’s cage that hold a tablet steady and protects it from harsh conditions. Many of the mounts include a holder specifically manufactured to accommodate a particular device. Some even include an appendix that permits you to adjust the position of the device for optimum use.
· Tougher tablets. There are now computer tablets that are actually encased in armor so they are now well prepared to tackle tough conditions normally encountered by lifts.
· Hydrogen fuel cells. You probably thought that sources of power for lifts are restricted to propane, diesel, or electricity. Well, here comes hydrogen. As early as 2007 the University of Chicago studied fuel cell-powered forklifts. The result of the tests were mixed. However, the technology continues to improve and now such large companies as BMW, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart are using them on forklifts.
· Digital technology. Today more forklifts are equipped with digital control panels that are so much easier to use than the familiar yet awkward levers and pulleys. The digital panels are contained in a single interface and are easier to read and calibrate. They also assist the operator to better control the lift and they ensure more efficient battery use. Digital technology also helps to ensure that forklifts are operated safely. It oversees the speed of the lifts and prevents them from exceeding a set speed, helps guard against equipment and product damage, and minimizes accidents that could result in employee injuries.
· Automated guided vehicles (AGV). Today there are forklifts that drive themselves along specific routes and perform special tasks. Such vehicles are already offering reduced labor and operating costs for companies as well as improvements in warehouse safety.

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