Plant & Works Engineering

Quiet as she goes!

Published:  27 October, 2007

A multifunction steering wheel and a new range of quiet IC engine-powered counterbalanced lift trucks featuring a hydrostatic drive were recently announced by Jungeheinrich at an official launch in Hamburg. PWE reports.

Sales of hydrostatic engine trucks currently account for around one third of the counterbalanced truck market with sales of conventional torque-converter trucks making up the rest of the market. In simple terms, hydrostat trucks offer high levels of operator comfort and are particularly suited to highly intensive materials handling operations, whereas torque-converter trucks are at home in applications where the work schedule is less punishing. The majority of the world's forklift truck manufacturers produce converter trucks and with the launch of its new hydrostatic range Jungheinrich has become one of the very few companies that produce both types.

Dr Tobias Harzer, head of product management and product marketing for counterbalance trucks at Jungheinrich explained: "A hydrostatic truck is the ideal product for applications where a lot of 'shuttling" work is involved - such as lorry loading and unloading within and around a busy warehouse or factory environment.” He added: “It also scores highly over converter trucks in applications where ramp work is involved or where fast and frequent changes of direction are required. With a hydrostat machine acceleration is fast and direct while changes in direction are sleek and smooth.”

Jungheinrich’s  new hydrostatic drive model – the VFG 425-435s – is capable of lifting loads weighing up to 3500 kg up to heights of 7.5 metres and is available in both LPG (TFG) and diesel (DFG) versions.

The truck’s motor is supplied by Volkswagen and has been designed to offer the lowest noise levels and emissions, while fuel consumption is also particularly low, as Dr Harzer explained: “Our test cycles have shown that over the course of 2000 hours of typical operation our new hydrostatic truck will save some 2500 euros in fuel costs in comparison with a standard conventional converter counterbalance truck. If you are running a large fleet it is easy to see how the overall savings can be extremely significant.

“When it comes to noise reduction, Jungheinrich’s new hydrostatic truck is far quieter in operation than a conventional torque-converter truck.

Dr Harzer continued: “At the drivers’ ear the sound from the engine is on average 3dB(A) quieter than a typical torque-converter truck. This doesn’t sound like a lot but in fact it’s a dramatic improvement.”

In addition, because hydrostatic drive technology has only a few mechanical components, the trucks are low maintenance and easier to service. As a result, truck downtime is kept to a minimum and whole life operating costs are low.

Furthermore, the VFG 425-435 series provide a high degree of safety. For example, thanks to the special design of the counterweight and its high mounted safety steering axle, the truck has a low centre of gravity and, as a result, excellent stability is assured without the need for an additional electronic stability programme. This principle has already been used in IC engine driven trucks developed by Jungheinrich since 2004.

Other safety features include good operator forward visibility, which means that during pallet pick-up and put-away the operator has a virtually unobstructed view. Visibility to the rear has also considerably improved due to the low top edge of the counterweight.

When it comes to the comfort of the operator, Jungheinrich has designed-in a number of ergonomic benefits including a large and comfortable cab; a height and tilt adjustable steering column and a push button starter motor and parking brake.


Multi-function steering wheel

It was also announced Jungheinrich’s multi-function steering wheel – JetPilot - was ready for production, less than two years after the concept formed a central part of the company’s stand at CeMAT – the Hannover materials handling fair .

The JetPilot has been designed to allow all main operational functions – including travel direction, mast lifting and lowering, sideshift and tilt – to be integrated into the steering wheel. It means that operating levers for the truck’s mast and forks are no longer required.

Ralf Baginski, head of pre-development at Jungheinrich commented: “The workplace on a counterbalance truck is getting closer in its design and function to the up-market motor car standard and will continue to change considerably in the future.” He continued: “The development of the Jungheinrich JetPilot steering wheel brings previously undreamt-of possibilities for the design of the counterbalance truck workplace. It will make the truck far more comfortable for the operator.”

The multi-function steering wheel has been designed so that it only has to be turned by 100° in either direction to achieve full wheel lock. This means the truck can be effortlessly and precisely manoeuvred with minimal steering movements. The JetPilot also automatically returns to the straight travel position once a corner has been turned – a feature that contributes to safer manoeuvring and a more relaxed operator.

A high-resolution display integrated into the armrest to the operator’s right hand side, clearly depicts the status of all the truck’s essential functions, while additional switches and buttons on the armrest control the truck’s settings and other secondary functions. 

The JetPilot is now available as an option for all electric counterbalanced trucks in the Jungheinrich EFG 425-430 range.

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