A simple but clever device designed to make it easier to operate counterbalance forklift trucks has been short listed for two prestigious FLTA industry awards.
With a patent pending under the brand name ‘ForkAngles’, the device is the brainchild of design engineer, Antony Cook of Alsager, Cheshire. The idea stems from Antony’s personal experience and observations in the operation of counterbalance forklift trucks.
"There is a fundamental problem with the design of counterbalance forklift trucks", explains Antony." The view from the operators’ position is not sufficient to allow the driver to accurately determine the mast tilt position. Even experienced FLT operators have to estimate the required mast tilt, and then they use their skill to make fine adjustments as they approach the load. If a driver gets it wrong it could result in damage to the racking system, the pallet payload and a possible risk of injury."
After becoming aware of this problem, Antony Cook set out to design a simple visual ’tilt angle’ indicator to take the guesswork and skill out of setting the correct tilt angle.
"The result is basically a sliding indicator-weight controlled by a wire linkage, the position of the indicator-weight, allows the operator to accurately align the forks first time, every time. The concept uses gravity to provide the movement. There are no electrics involved," says Antony.
Apart from being relatively inexpensive, the ‘ForkAngles’ device can be easily retro-fitted without any drilling or modification to the truck. Indeed it is so simple that a demonstration unit can be installed in seconds.
The design has been validated after a successful series of trials, involving several logistics firms; a potteries-based manufacturer of fine china products and a regional FLT training specialist.
These trials proved that without ForkAngles, drivers have only a six per cent probability of setting the tilt angle correct first time. In comparison, with ForkAngles, the same drivers achieved 99.5 per cent probability.
To summarise ForkAngles features:
• The device indicates when forks are parallel to the ground, so it operates on sloped surfaces as well as level ones.
• It will achieve accuracy of +/- 0.1° equivalent to 2mm difference in height along a 1.2m fork.
• Easy to set up and calibrate, unlike integral auto levelling systems which require skilled adjustment to remain accurate as the forks and tyres wear or are replaced.
• A robust design suitable for use in a logistics – industrial environment.
• Unlike integral auto levelling systems, it can be used to indicate multiple tilt angles. For example it can be used to indicate required back-tilt to compensate for fork deflection.
• Designed, using top quality components sourced and built in the UK.
• Patent Pending.
ForkAngles solves such a fundamental problem that its potential benefits impact all key business performance objectives – for example.
Cost savings – less wear and tear on equipment.
Time savings – increased productivity in the warehouse.
Environmental impact reductions – less waste packaging.
Safety improvements – active measure to boost driver confidence.