Lift Truck Tips: Building a closer attachment
Relationships between forklift and attachment manufacturers, their customers, and packaging engineers seek to ensure optimal performance at lower costs.
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Everyone wants their forklifts to work hard, but sometimes we ask too much. Instead of equipment over-engineered for its main task and asked to awkwardly perform several others, each forklift and attachment should be tailored to well-defined needs. This is reflected in the broadening range of products from lift truck manufacturers who have introduced new models and ways to customize them. Manufacturers of forklift attachments have faced their own version of this challenge as they have sought to minimize the potential for misapplication. Today more than ever, lift truck manufacturers and attachment manufacturers see opportunities to leverage each other’s strengths.
Martin Boyd, vice president of counterbalance solutions at Hyster Company, says there has always been a drive to make attachments lighter while retaining the same or better lifting and clamping capability.
“This is important because the forklift manufacturer can then offer better overall solutions to their customers,” Boyd says. “For example, a lighter single/double attachment that is able to lift the same load as a heavier attachment enables the operation to use smaller, better-maneuvering and less costly lift trucks. In multi-forklift fleets, this has a positive effect on the bottom line.”
In the past, lift truck and attachment manufacturers often developed products in isolation, each boasting of the resulting visibility. “When an operator can better see the fork tips, the load or the clamp arms, that becomes a competitive advantage,” Boyd says. “Often times, you would see a forklift with a beautiful window through the mast, and an attachment with good visibility, yet when you married them together, the benefits nullify each other and that window closes up.”
Additionally, the marriage between lift trucks and attachments can vary from one technician’s installment technique to the next. To reduce guesswork and help ensure the consistent performance of forklift and attachment pairings, Boyd describes attachment-ready packages that configure the forklift’s mast, carriage, hosing and hydraulic fittings so the attachment installation process is more “plug and play.” For example, Hyster is rolling out packages that enable technicians to quickly, easily and properly install Bolzoni-Auramo paper roll clamps. Consistent configuration can prevent issues with the attachment’s operation, like hoses rubbing together or overheating due to improper hydraulic plumbing.
Boyd also sees closer relationships between lift truck manufacturers, attachment manufacturers and their customers’ packaging engineers. Efforts to cut the cost of product packaging can directly impact the performance of attachments that clamp it. This creates a challenge to reduce damage not just to the product, but to the packaging itself.
“I’ve seen customers who, if they see any packaging damage with their incoming goods, will close the door on the trailer and immediately send it back,” Boyd says. “It’s critical to make sure all stakeholders are in the loop so you don’t end up with slew of lift trucks and attachments that don’t work well with the packaging housing the product being moved.”
About the AuthorJosh Bond, Senior Editor Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.
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