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Lift Truck Tips: Do more with less; lift trucks and attachments

Lift truck attachments are helping operators and operations make up for lost capacity and helping avoid upgrades
By Tom Andel, Contributing editor
March 01, 2010

Perhaps the greatest lesson the recession of 2009 taught survivors is how to do more with less. That lesson is well represented in the lift truck world by how companies use the latest lift trucks and attachments.

For example, a couple years ago the in-freezer picking operation at Aldi Foods’ Center Valley, Pa., distribution facility employed a few manual order pickers operating electric pallet trucks. Toyota Industrial Lift Truck Company (TILT), the grocery distributor’s lift truck dealer, saw what was going on and demonstrated to Aldi’s management that its entire freezer operation could be run using one electric lift truck and a layer picker attachment (Cascade Corp., 503-669-6300, http://www.cascorp.com)).

Doing more with more is over. Today, lift trucks are more finely tuned to their capacity rating. Don’t expect a 5,000 pound truck to do the work of a 7,000 pound truck. That said, attachments are being designed to help lift trucks make up for any lost capacity.

Brad Vandehey, product manager for Cascade, a leading attachment provider, told me that some of the newer rotators are designed to maximize the capacity of heart-of-the-line 5,000-pound lift trucks. The weight of the attachment can be reduced by hundreds of pounds because it can be mounted closer to the carriage and has a smaller gear mechanism while enhancing speed and visibility. A lighter attachment means improved lift truck capacity.

“This may in some circumstances prevent the user from having to upgrade to a larger more expensive Class III 6,000-pound truck,” Vandehey says.

Attachments are also coming with new hydraulics to minimize driver input into clamp force control. With clamps, one of the most challenging aspects is adjusting the appropriate force to a load. Now that’s becoming an automatic feature on clamp systems. Now they can sense the amount of hydraulic pressure in the hoist system, interpret this information, and set the clamp pressure without driver input.

Even the B 56 industrial truck standard is changing, to reflect improvements in attachment safety. B 56.1, section 7.25.7 states: “The manual operation or physical action of the control used to release a load bearing clamp shall require two distinct motions or operations by the operator before the clamp is opened and the load bearing force is released.”

As a result, attachment providers are offering products requiring two actions (a button push and handle movement) to prevent the driver from accidentally moving the clamp open handle and dropping the load when it is lifted.

Lift trucks and their attachments are great examples of the teamwork required to do more with less in these tough economic times.

Contact Tom Andel at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

About the Author

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Tom Andel
Contributing editor

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