Manufacturers Listening More to Drivers as They Design, Manufacture Forklifts

Manufacturers are starting to consult with drivers as they design and manufacture forklifts. (Courtesy: Pro Source Inc. at flickr.com)

Manufacturers are starting to consult with drivers as they design and manufacture forklifts.
(Courtesy: Pro Source Inc. at flickr.com)

Drivers are having more of an influence in the design and manufacturing of forklifts in Finland.

The Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster (FIMECC) is reported to be in the forefront of the concept, which is being funded by the Finnish Government. The government is performing research through its FIMECC research program that includes one on User Experience and Usability in Complex Systems (UXUS). The purpose is to make business in Finland more competitive through radical transformation of their practices.

UXUS collects experts from an assortment of specialties including psychology, human-computer interaction, economics and design, and it encourages cooperation between companies and academia.

Referred to as user experience, the concept focuses on gathering opinions of users of forklifts at all stages.

One forklift manufacturer that is participating in the program is Cat Lift Trucks in Jarvenpaa, Finland. It has been involved in the UXUS program for three years. However, prior to its involvement it was independently developing forklifts using human-centered design.

The company works with drivers from various customer segments and covers many different applications. It invites drivers to try its products and has about 50 to 100 drivers involved in the analysis. These tests are actually performed on-site and involve the daily routine of drivers. The company also brings drivers to its own facilities to test prototypes.

In designing forklifts, Cat Lift Trucks relies on its research and development staff, in-house professional drivers and drivers from outside the company who test and comment on the lifts.

Cat Lift Trucks has used the program to improve its range of trucks. Improvements have included the development of a cold store cabin option and a 13-meter mast. Using drivers input the company has developed better handling forklifts with loads at high lifts making them more comfortable to use and to control.

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