Show of strength
Published:  17 June, 2008

Making forecasts about the future has never been easy. Who can say whether the increase in oil prices will continue until next year, let alone whether Asia will be hit by another earthquake? And do we know what technology might be developed to solve the ongoing energy problem forever? Forecasting future trends is an important task, not least for forklift truck manufacturers where the ability to anticipate trends and developments remains the true source of competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded sector. But to their credit forklift truck manufacturers have seen this as a challenge and are producing new highly innovative products that address environmental issues as well as other end-user concerns such as productivity and safety.

Nissan for example has put the emphasis on safety, productivity and the environment with the launch of a major new series of ultra low emission lift trucks.
New engines designed and built by Nissan exclusively for its own lift trucks are at the heart of its new DX Eco models, so-called because of their low environmental impact.
Emissions from the diesel versions are almost imperceptible, while a new three-way catalytic converter now reduces up to 99% of harmful emissions from LP gas models. Computerised engine management systems also guarantee that only the minimum quantity of fuel is consumed whatever the operation.
The new DX Eco engine range is available in six models from 1.5 to 3.2t lift capacity in both diesel and LP gas. Lift heights are up to seven metres.
Nissan has applied its Risk Reduction System to the series to ensure maximum operator safety. Here, features include its 'full time" cushioned stability system to provide exceptional lateral stability for the truck and load. Unlike other systems, it cannot be turned off or over-ridden.
Other safety features within the Risk Reduction System include a mast lock system to prevent accidental operation. It isolates the mast and fork controls immediately the operator leaves the seat. An automatic "return to neutral” feature also returns the truck’s transmission to neutral within three seconds of the operator leaving the seat with the truck in gear.  
For greatest operator comfort, a ‘fully floating’ cab reduces vibration in the cab to the minimum, while electronic fingertip controls provide for greater accuracy and less fatigue.

Nissan is believed to be the only forklift manufacturer to offer a three-way catalyst system - Tri-Cat Ultra - as standard with the LP Gas versions of all its engine trucks.  A sophisticated “closed loop” electronics system is also integrated to provide a complete engine management function, monitoring and controlling the fuel-to-air ratio constantly whenever the engine is on, resulting in optimum fuel consumption and the lowest emission levels.
Made in Nissan’s expanding manufacturing plant in Spain, the DX Eco has been designed with European lift truck operators - and operations - in mind. So keeping the operator comfortable, safe and alert within an extremely manoeuvrable vehicle has been a principal consideration with the new series.


New models unveiled

CeMAT was an opportunity for Jungheinrich to unveil several new additions to its range of equipment with a environmentally friendly focus at the forefront. New models on display included: Two completely new ranges of three-and four-wheel electric counterbalance trucks. The trucks feature sideways battery exit and full electric steering while the latest fourth generation AC technology ensures that the new models offer very high productivity and low running costs.

The EFG 213-220 (three-wheel) and EFG 316-320 (four-wheel) ranges are capable of lifting loads weighing up to 2000 kg to a lift height of up to 6500 mm. The top speed of the trucks is 17 km/h.

By using the latest fourth generation of environmentally-friendly AC technology Jungheinrich says it has ensured the trucks are not only efficient but also achieve constantly low battery consumption. Energy costs are further reduced thanks to energy reclamation during braking so that in most applications, a truck will operate for two shifts without the need for a battery change.

The latest version of the Jungheinrich very narrow aisle EKX 513-515 Kombi order picker/stacker, demonstrated its clever use of RFID to enhance the truck’s performance and safety, which was enthusiastically received by truck users. At CeMAT Jungheinrich showed how they have taken the concept one step further with the introduction of technology that allows the truck to communicate independently with the warehouse management system (WMS) and maximize productivity through intelligent lifting and travel functions.

Simply, the EKX 513-515 receives order picking instructions from a WMS and RFID transponders set in the floor automatically guide the Kombi to the appropriate pallet position within the racking by the shortest route at the optimum speed that consumes the lowest amount of energy. Jungheinrich calculate this system will increase productivity by circa 15%. CeMAT visitors were able to experience the new models EKX 513-515 for themselves on a special test route on the Jungheinrich stand.

An upgrade of the ETV C16/20 indoor/outdoor reach truck was also highlighted. Thanks to its high ground clearance and super-elastic tyres Jungheinrich’s second generation ETV C16/20 reach truck is suitable for work both inside and outside the warehouse or distribution centre during lorry loading and offloading. It features a host of functions designed to improve throughput and, therefore, reduce handling costs. For example the new model has electric 180° steering with a small and quietly operating steering wheel, while Curve Control ­ Jungheinrich’s successful truck stability system ­­ is fitted as standard.

Hans-Herbert Schultz, managing director of Jungheinrich UK Ltd, commented: “CeMAT is a truly international exhibition and I was delighted to see that so many of our UK customers were able to visit the event.

“The reaction of visitors to the new products was very encouraging indeed and we believe that the new models will play a vital role in the further growth of our business.”


Hybrid advance

Emission reduction is again at the core of Linde Material Handling’s new mild hybrid truck, which the company says is taking the first steps toward introducing ‘innovative’ drive concepts. The concept vehicle on show at CeMAT 2008 last month, is based on a diesel truck from the 39x series and can lift loads of up to 3.5t. In addition to an internal combustion engine, the truck has an electric motor that can operate as a starter and generator (Generator Electric Motor Starter (GES) System). By combining combustion and electrical technologies, consumption can be reduced by up to 25% depending on how it is being used. A further advantage is that emissions are significantly reduced and performance potential is increased.

In the selected mild hybrid solution from Linde Material Handling, the internal combustion engine continues to form the basis of the drive train. Additional energy capacity is gained from the synchronous motor, a 400V lithium ion battery and an energy management system in the truck. To save fuel, the internal combustion engine automatically switches itself off when the truck has come to a standstill; when continuing to drive the engine automatically switches back on (automatic start & stop).

 As the trucks can be idling for up to 30% of their operation time, the energy savings are claimed to be very noticeable. The energy recovery system works according to the same principle— braking energy is turned into electric energy and stored in the battery. The ‘boosting’ disguises that the combustion engine is actively reinforced by the GES system, which is used in particular when the truck requires a large amount of power such as when accelerating or when lifting a nominal load from a standing start.

The internal combustion engine is a 30 kW strong SDI motor manufactured by Volkswagen Industrial Engines. The unit has an engine speed of 190 RPM with a maximum torque of 120 Nm. The supporting electric motor has a 13.2 kW power rating (at 2100 RPM) and has a maximum torque of 200 Nm.

“The requirements for a hybrid drive in a truck are very favourable”, explains Udo Herrmann, head of pre-development. “This is because in contrast to cars, trucks operate in a very dynamic way often braking and then continuing to drive, which makes an energy recovery system worthwhile. In addition, high power levels are only required briefly, when the truck initially accelerates and when lifting a nominal load. As the electric motor has a high torque when idling, it makes sense for it to supplement the internal combustion engine. At the same time, the combustion power machine can be smaller thanks to the supporting electric motor.” A further advantage of the hybrid drive is that when operating the truck the idling times can be very high (up to 30%), which is similar to those of an automatic start/stop system.

The hybrid drive concept contributes to all three goals of what Linde has dubbed the PureMotion management strategy. The individual benefits from a work environment with fewer emissions and the environment benefits from a sustainable reduction in carbon dioxide and a more economical use of energy. For the operators, the hybrid truck offers improved energy efficiency at a lower cost and with additional performance.


Anniversary showcase

CeMAT was also an opportunity for long load handling specialist Combilift Ltd., to put on its biggest show of trucks to date by exhibiting 15 models on its two stands. The company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and the wide range of models now available reflects Combilift’s rapid growth over the last decade. “We aimed from the start to offer a customised range to suit various individual requirements across a range of industry sectors”, says managing director Martin McVicar. “This customer-led approach sets us apart from the mainstream manufacturers and has been key to our success since we launched our first truck onto the market in 1998. We have over 8000 units in operation worldwide, with capacities from 2.5 to 14 tonnes. “The Guinness flowing on Combilift’s outside stand was also a welcome attraction for visitors at a particularly hot and sunny CeMat. 

Combilift also branched out in a new direction with the launch of its latest product, the Combilift Container Lifter. This has been developed for the needs of the container haulage industry in mind - a growing sector according to Combilift MD Martin McVicar: ”Using containers is the cheapest way to transport goods around the world, but the loading and offloading process can be awkward, involving extra costs for the hire of cranes and ramps, and time wasted waiting for offloading equipment to arrive.  The integrated Combilift Container Lifter offers significant benefits as it eliminates the need for ramps, cranes, waiting time, and additionally allows much safer ground level  loading and unloading.”

There was an added attraction on Combilift’s stands on the first two days in the form of an Irish - German strength challenge. Glenn Ross, 7 times the UK’s strongest man and Heinz Ollesch, 12 times holder of the German strongest man title, competed in friendly rivalry in feats of strength. Both men have featured regularly on national and international TV and at events around the world, achieving records in disciplines such as stone lifting, jumbo jet pulls and log lifting. Challenges on both the indoor and outdoor Combilift stands such as trailer pulling, lifting a 145K stone onto a 1.8m high platform and rolling up a frying pan with bare hands drew large crowds.  

While CeMAT also saw Aisle-Master launched its new AC powered model onto the international market. This latest development puts the Irish specialist manufacturer at the forefront of battery powered technology in the articulated sector, according to the manufacturer.

“This technology has been trialled on a number of models over the last couple of years”, says company managing director Gerry McHugh; “and trucks have also undergone rigorous testing at customers’ premises, with very positive feedback. We are way past the prototype stage and are now fitting AC as standard on all our electric models.”

The AC truck shares all the space-saving and versatile qualities of its predecessor and the company’s LPG model range, with some of the main benefits of AC summed up as follows:

  • Enhanced performance levels
  • Increased pallet movements for greater productivity 
  • Improved acceleration and gradability  
  • Fewer wearable parts resulting in low maintenance and reduced downtime
  • Reduced energy consumption


Aisle-Masters can work in aisles of just 1.75m, with capacities of up to 2.5t and lift heights of up to 12.5 metres. Applications for the trucks include: The 3rd party logistics, DIY; manufacturing; pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries.


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