Small details can make a huge impact
The opportunities for exponential improvements in materials handling equipment are getting fewer.
As a result, astute managers are focusing their attention on opportunities for incremental improvements that individually deliver relatively small gains but cumulatively have a big impact on improved productivity, safety and especially driver welfare (resulting in reduced staff injuries and absenteeism).
And nowhere is this more apparent than in a new breed of warehouse trucks.
As a closer comparison of the features and specifications will quickly reveal, there is a great deal of difference between models and manufacturers when it comes to items like power pallet trucks, low-level order pickers and stackers.
Indeed, it is here where some of the most impressive product developments are being made. And that’s a big deal because these trucks are to be found in huge numbers, undertaking huge workloads, across all industries.
As a result, even relatively small increases in throughput quickly rack up when aggregated over the course of a shift... a week... and a year.
Let’s look at an example from the Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks range, a company winning awards for it’s game-changing technologies.
Test results show that by switching from a basic power pallet truck to the Mitsubishi PREMiA savings of around 8 seconds can be achieved on each manoeuvre. In a busy warehouse where each power pallet truck may well complete 75,000 operations a year – those productivity gains translate into thousands of Euros saved.
But that’s not all. A new generation of trucks typified by the PREMiA and its stablemates have been engineered to not only work harder, but also to work longer. That means they will continue delivering cost benefits long after a standard-issue model has been scrapped, resulting in significantly lower total cost of ownership.
So what features should you be looking for in the new landscape of enhanced warehouse trucks?
We’ve identified some exciting truck developments into three keys areas:
360-degree steering keeps the truck in constant motion saving valuable seconds on every single turn.
‘Flying Start’ technology shortens the acceleration time for ultimate picking productivity.
100-degree steering angle ensures exceptional manoeuvrability – ideal for tight spaces.
Li-ion battery is maintenance-free and allows rapid charging at convenient moments such as coffee or lunch breaks for 24/7 operation (and no topping up!). It uses about 30% less energy due to more efficient charger and power technologies.
Smooth stop prevents the VELiA OPB low-level order picker from swaying when it reaches a full stop – minimising time needed between picks and maximising throughput.
Turbo mode offers fast travel speeds to experienced operators – ensuring long shuttles are completed in the shortest possible time.
Intelligent Cornering System is an enhanced system that, unlike its rivals, automatically senses the angle of a turn and speed at the very start of a manoeuvre for maximum stability and accurate, positive cornering. Meaning far less risk of costly load shedding.
Two linked castor wheels used in addition to the load wheels ensure added stability – increasing operator comfort and safety for the load.
Exceptional lift height of 220mm on the VELiA OPB order picker ensures higher ground clearance for easy and safe handling on loading docks and ramps.
Anti-lock brakes ensure safe stopping – even on slippery surfaces – for ultimate safety.
Adaptive steering system ensures truck performance matches operator needs – whether travelling in reverse or at speed – for calm, smooth and precise operations.
Ergonomics / operator welfare
DriveSteady with patented system for excellent traction and damping on dock levelers or uneven floors with maintained stability when cornering.
Triple-suspension floating floor with sideways dampening and generous cushioning reduces micro-vibrations for greatly enhanced operator comfort and much reduced risk of muscular-skeletal injuries.
Optical presence detector locks all functions if the operator is not in position, but also allows the operator to move their foot slightly in order to find a comfortable position (without instantly applying the brakes).
Easy-access platform has a particularly low step height and chamfered edges – ensuring easy, less tiring, on/off access and minimising trip hazards.
Mini steering wheel with floating armrest together with tilting seat, allows the operator to adopt a stress free posture while driving and stacking, proven to significantly reduce strain in neck and shoulder complex
Ergonomic tiller head with large, easy-to-reach buttons placed at a patented ergonomic distance for reduced fatigue and safer operation.
Ergo Forks Trailing Control is an additional speed control that allows an operator to stand more comfortably and in an ergonomic forward-facing position while travelling with forks trailing.
The message is clear. Not all forklifts are created equal. Focus on the features and you’ll get a great deal more out of your investment.
- Action Points
- When replacing trucks (or adding new ones) weigh up whole-life operating costs and the economies you can achieve from fully-featured products.
- If you aren’t already doing it, take a serious look at formal training for drivers of pedestrian-operated equipment. It’s mandatory in some countries because of the dangers they pose in untrained hands.
- Talk to your local Mitsubishi Forklift Truck representative for an obligation-free evaluation of your handling operations and areas for potential savings.