3 February 2016
More and more we see forklift- and warehouse trucks being equipped with systems that automatically reduce the speed of the truck, for example when cornering. One manufacturer calls it "curve control" or "curve speed control", the other uses "Curve Assistant”. The operation is broadly more or less the same; the speed of the truck is automatically adjusted when the driver is turning into a bend. The way in which this happens varies obviously from system to system. In the most ideal case, the speed reduction should be dependent on how the curve is taken. If the driver goes slowly into a slight curve, the speed needs hardly changing. But when the curve is accessed with high speed into a sharp turn, the system should intervene progressively. The turn of the steering wheel in this case co-determines the degree of intervention. After all, a gentle curve is less dangerous than a sharp bend.
As we have said, not every speed reduction system is alike. In some cases, the speed reduction will be less smooth and feel less natural than with another system. Whatever the system is called and whether the speed reduction is smooth or not, this kind of built-in intelligence is way more than just a marketing gimmick. Adjusting the speed in the warehouse situation will always lead to more safety in the workplace. Even systems that minimize the risk of tipping over cannot take away the risk completely. Reducing speed is the only logical answer.
Smart and smooth
There are systems that take the concept a step further. The Responsive Drive System from Cat® Lift Trucks, for example, does not just reduce the speed of the forklift truck. The truck responds in such a natural manner to the drivers’ actions that it seems the machine knows what the driver wants.
The truck does not only respond to the way in which the accelerator pedal is pressed (hard versus soft), but also to the way in which the hydraulic functions are being operated. Depending on the driver’s behaviour, the truck automatically selects the corresponding setting. All movements, such as acceleration, braking, but also the mast operation become extremely smooth. And performance? This is automatically elevated to a higher level. All in all, we see enough evidence to show that embedded intelligence is much more than a marketing gimmick. Choose the right system and safety and productivity will benefit.