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Technologies are always innovating and leading to more time saving, safety, and operation improving products. Some may be small and at first blush considered inconsequential and some can lead to revolutionary changes.
Some recent technology innovations involving lift truck operation include:
• Device Mounts
• Rugged Tablet Computers
• Hydrogen Fuel Cell Solutions
• Digital Controls
Apps used on smartphones have helped to upgrade lift truck activities in warehouse operations. The problem though is that the vibration of the truck and the reluctance of lift truck operators to look down onto their laps to catch a glimpse of an app’s data can cause the smartphone to slip off your lap and fall and break on the floor.
Mounts designed to hold smartphones and tablets and that can be stuck to an easy- to-view part of the lift can provide much needed data in real time to the truck’s operator.
The mounts are rugged enough to withstand shock and vibration ending the concern that a smartphone or tablet could fall off the truck. There are mounts that are designed for a specific device; there are adaptors and arms that allow the driver to adjust the angle of a device so that it is easier and safer to view.
These mounts are ideal for holding not only smartphones and tablets, but also bar-code scanners, and devices that use RFID technology.
Rugged Tablet Computers
There are plenty of tablet computers around that may be used in just about any environment but in warehouse operations on a lift truck. However, now there are tablets that are ultra rugged tablet computers that are suitable for use on lift trucks. These devices can now withstand all sorts of activity a lift truck can generate including vibration and shock. These devices are also better equipped to withstand the environments in which the lift trucks are used. No longer will a rugged tablet computer be adversely affected by impact, the rays or heat generated from the sun, dirt, and moisture.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells In Warehouse Operations
Studies performed earlier in the 2000s checked into the reliability of fuel cell-powered forklifts in warehouse operations. These studies compared the lifts’ performance against gas-powered lifts and focused on fuel efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use.
These studies found that smaller forklifts did fairly well using hydrogen fuel cells, but the larger lifts experienced problems from enclosure to waterproofing problems and seemed to discourage fuel cell use.
Today, hydrogen fuel cells are being considered as a great way to assure fuel economy and cost savings in warehouse operations. As a result, hydrogen fuel cell forklift fleets are expanding and many companies’ distribution centers including BMWs, Coco-Cola and Wal-Mart are using them.
More forklifts are featuring digital operation panels. These panels have replaced the more complicated and cumbersome levers and pulleys that were used on older trucks. Digital panels have made digital data much easier to read and allow calibrations necessary in the day-to-day routine of todays lift drivers.
Digital controls have also had an impact on better safety operation of the trucks. They also help in regulating speed, helps to prevent equipment and products from being damaged and help to protect drivers and nearby pedestrians from accidents.
More automatic guided vehicles are now in use performing specific operations along defined paths. These vehicles self navigate using buried wires or lines of surface tape that feature magnetic or optical strips. These machines are replacing conventional forklifts in warehouse operations and help to reduce labor costs and improve warehouse safety.