29 April 2024

Precisely controlled Cat® forklift power for large loads

When you have heavy loads to handle, what should you look for in a forklift truck? Cat® Lift Trucks summarises the essential qualities of high-capacity counterbalance forklifts.

As with any lift truck, you will want performance, operating economy, ergonomics and safety. Your forklift must also be able to take the weight in highly demanding applications. Priorities when handling large loads include:

  • Power – sufficient to lift heavy loads quickly
  • Robustness – enabling masts and other components to withstand the strain, with minimal twisting and swaying
  • Low centre of gravity – which, together with a robust mast, enhances stability and residual capacity
  • Precise control – allowing drivers to position loads accurately, lift and lower them smoothly, maintain stability, and avoid spilling heavy loads

Today’s Cat® electric counterbalance trucks meet all these needs. They are taking over in many workplaces previously dominated by LPG and diesel forklifts. High-quality Cat IC engine ranges are still available, if you need or prefer them, but electrics offer many advantages. For heavy lifting, their precise control is especially important.

Aids to precision in high-capacity forklift trucks

Let’s consider some of the heavy lifting technology in Cat EP40-55(C)N(H) 4.0 to 5.5 tonne electric counterbalance forklifts, for example.

Responsive Drive System (RDS)

Our Responsive Drive System (RDS) constantly adjusts hydraulic and travel performance characteristics in reaction to the driver’s behaviour. It monitors the speed of pedal and hydraulic control operation and adapts to his or her changing needs. As a result, all movements, stops and starts are smooth. The driver enjoys the best possible user experience, while the load stays stable.

SmoothFlow hydraulic system

High-capacity forklifts may handle a wide variety of loads and weights. In conventional lift trucks, lifting behaviour and ‘feel’ vary substantially when handling loads of different weight. This makes it harder for the driver to move the load smoothly and precisely. With our SmoothFlow hydraulic system, load weight is sensed and automatic adjustments are made. Whatever the weight, all mast and fork actions are fast, smooth and precise. Similarly, the system adjusts to maintain consistent performance when two or more hydraulic functions are used simultaneously.

Cat forklifts use automatic hydraulic control tuning

At higher lifts, there is a greater chance of mast sway and loss of accuracy. Cat forklifts use automatic hydraulic control tuning to counter such effects. This function is activated when lifts exceed 2.5 metres, or some other value specific to the mast chosen. It applies limits to hydraulic and travel speeds to keep all movements steady. Another aid is passive sway control, which applies mainly above 3.0 metres. It allows mast tilting forces to be absorbed by the lift truck chassis.

Other heavy materials handling considerations

Ergonomic design is always a priority in Cat forklifts. For instance, the latest fingertip levers – or joysticks if you prefer them – make materials handling precise and effortless. Heavy loads may be large enough to affect the driver’s view, so good all-round vision is vital. Designers achieve this in Cat lift trucks through careful attention to the mast, overhead guard and overall truck shape, including the counterweight.

For rapid but safe and precisely controlled motion, often in cramped spaces, Cat electrics feature agile all-wheel steering with a +100⁰ rear turning axle. Their automated safety aids include intelligent curve control, which optimises cornering speeds. Meanwhile, different fork lengths, as well as fork positioners, side shifters, clamps and other attachments, can be selected. These adapt the forklift specification to your application and further ensure that heavy loads stay firmly in place.

Click here to see the full Cat electric counterbalance range – including high-capacity Cat models at 4.0 to 5.5 tonnes and Cat heavy electrics at 6.0 to 12.0 tonnes.

EP18 electric 3 wheel Cat forklift
electric forklift EP30
ep40-55cnh high capacity electric forklift
EP40-55(C)N(H) high capacity electric forklift