Choosing the right options can turn a great lift truck into the perfect one for your business. After all, every application, operation and user is different. To meet their demands and preferences precisely, and get the best possible results, you need flexibility in your choice of features.
You will, of course, expect good forklift manufacturers to include a generous feature specification in the standard price. However, you shouldn’t pay for things you don’t need. Options lists allow you to select only those which will truly make a difference to your company’s output and profits.
As examples, let’s look at some of the optional extras available on one product range from Cat® Lift Trucks. We’ll take the Cat® EP40-55(C)N(H) 4.0 to 5.5 tonne electric counterbalance forklifts. These options are just a sample; your local Cat lift truck dealer can tell you more.
Building on the lift truck basics
Certain application environments immediately call for specialised adaptations. For instance, bottling and recycling plants often require a raised operator compartment, as offered in the Cat EP40-55N options list. For workplaces with limited overhead clearance, there are low overhead guards. Specific hydraulic oils can be chosen for hot, cold, hygienic or environmentally sensitive applications.
Tyre choices include non-marking versions, to keep floors clean, and other types with varying performance advantages. For outdoor work, a useful addition is a rubber or metal front cover to limit the amount of dust and debris reaching the truck’s underside.
Another fundamental issue addressed in this options list is battery choice. Both lithium-ion (Li-ion) and lead-acid batteries are available. The growing advantages of Li-ion technology have been discussed in a previous article. An easy charging hatch and socket come as standard if Li-ion is chosen. These additions can be selected optionally with lead-acid, in which case an automated ventilation fan is fitted for added safety. For quick checking and maintenance of lead-acid batteries, without removing them, there’s the option of an inspection hatch under the seat.
Sideways exchange of batteries can be speeded up by opting for a battery box with pockets for the forks of another lift truck. Alternatively, an optional sideways exchange tool can be fitted to the forks of a suitable power pallet truck.
Enhancing forklift comfort, ergonomics and control
Operator comfort and ergonomics, which are vital to productivity, depend largely on the cabin’s equipment. Weatherproof panel cabin options for the Cat EP40-55N range include a polycarbonate or acrylic transparent roof, steel or PVC doors, a windscreen, side and rear windows, and wipers/washers for front and back. Cabins can be fitted with heating, air conditioning, linings, a reading light, and a radio with speakers.
As alternatives to the standard full-suspension seat with vinyl covering, you can opt for even more luxurious versions. They include cloth upholstery, inbuilt heating, air suspension and a swivel plate, in various combinations.
Ergonomic controls are essential to operating quickly, precisely and safely. For efficient manoeuvring, there’s a choice between a conventional ergonomic steering wheel and the Palm Steering option. The latter offers a relaxed driving position and requires minimal effort. The standard fingertip hydraulic control unit can be replaced with optional dual joysticks. If you prefer traditional manual hydraulic levers, those are an option too.
Several options are available for forward and backward direction control. With the standard fingertip hydraulic control unit or the optional joysticks, there’s a switch on the armrest. Optionally, in both cases, direction can also changed using a switch on the standard steering wheel column. This is also used when manual hydraulic levers are fitted.
An alternative option is a double pedal system with forward and reverse accelerator pedals. It enables very quick direction changes in fast-paced operations. A central brake pedal is provided for emergency use.
Another possible pedal-controlled function is activation of the electric differential lock, which maximises grip on slippery surfaces. Locking is automatically activated at small steering angles but can be switched on manually by pressing the optional pedal.
Alternatively, that space can be used to fit an operator presence pedal. This requires only the weight of the operator’s resting foot to confirm that his or her legs are safely within the truck. It’s an additional safeguard to the standard operator presence-detecting seat switch.
Aiding efficient and safe materials handling
When it comes to load handling, the Cat EP40-55N range offers numerous choices of masts, forks, lifting carriage equipment and hydraulic functions. These must be carefully selected to optimise performance in your application. They include different options for side shifting, fork positioning, tilt angle configuration, automatic tilt centring and clamp control.
Practical accessories include a variety of mirrors, along with mounts for document holders, computers, scanners and other electronic devices. The truck can also be fitted with cameras (forward and reverse) and a display screen. For extra safety, there are various lighting options. They include road lights, amber strobes, red or blue warning spots, and red lines to highlight exclusion boundaries around the truck.
In addition to the main horn button, a second one is available in an optional handle placed conveniently for use when reversing. A further option is a smart alarm which sounds whenever the truck is in reverse mode. Its sound level is automatically adjusted according to the surrounding noise. The PIN code access option ensures that only authorised users drive the truck, and only in their pre-defined performance mode.
Find out more
Further information on Cat 4.0 to 5.5 tonne electric counterbalance forklifts can be found on our website. Your local Cat lift truck dealer can give expert advice on the best options to optimise your operation.