Safe, ergonomic operation of all KION Group products has always been a focus of KION’s product development activities, especially in the Industrial Trucks & Services segment. The operator is always the focus of these considerations, with all operating elements adapted to suit his requirements – with active and passive safety systems offering maximum safety and helping to prevent accident risks. It is a commitment with a tradition: as long ago as 1980 Linde developed the first forklift truck with the Protector Frame, setting new standards in terms of safety. The protective overhead guard and frame form a completely enclosed, strong protection zone. Since then, trucks’ safety level has been continuously increased, with all KION Group products checked for their health and safety impacts. In the reporting year the Company was not notified of any significant fines owing to non-compliance with laws and regulations concerning the supply and use of products and services, or their impact on health and safety.
Safety on board
Numerous tests and trials with KION Group trucks are designed to ensure maximum safety for operators and the environment. Besides standardised procedures, such as the simulation of different driving conditions or load tests in which weights are dropped onto the roof of the truck, KION also employs in-house-developed test methods. In some cases these go far beyond the requirements set out in the relevant standards. For example, Li-ion battery tests at Linde Material Handling are tested for their mechanical load-bearing capacity in a crash test using an 8-tonne forklift, whereby they also have to prove their fire resistance to open fires.
Another focus of the KION Group’s and its operating units’ safety activities is providing operator support through the use of assistance systems. In this regard, another milestone was achieved in the reporting year with the further development of the Linde Safety Pilot (LSP) system. This driver assistance system largely prevents the tipping of counterbalanced forklift trucks, thereby reducing human error during operation to the greatest extent possible. The LSP acts as a smart passenger and is available in two versions: LSP Select, which provides key information and warning notifications in critical situations via a display, and LSP Active, which automatically intervenes in the forklift’s driving and lifting functions, preventing driving and operating errors. In this respect, the fact that all Linde industrial trucks are fly-by-wire is hugely beneficial. The signal generators and control systems are designed redundantly to avoid machine errors. Linde launched a similar system at the start of 2017 for its pallet stackers, called Linde Load Management.
A better overview of traffic and conditions – something that not only most drivers want, but also anyone who has ever operated a forklift. Until now, the A-pillar has literally stood in the way of this wish. With its new truck model Linde has now started a mini revolution, doing away with the need for A-pillars in its E20 to E35 electric trucks. This has all been made possible thanks to a unique design-engineering aspect of Linde trucks: overhead tilt cylinders. They absorb the forces acting on the mast during operation and direct them backwards via the overhead guard frame, eliminating the need for an A-pillar.
The A-pillar-free truck construction and the optional overhead guard frame made of armoured glass provide the driver with a unique view of the driving conditions, further increasing passive safety. This is because the absence of the A-pillar significantly increases visibility – and people or objects located in the near or far distance can be spotted early on, enabling the driver to take the necessary action.
The new Linde Roadster promises to bring benefits to virtually all applications, especially in logistics centres and industrial plants with a high level of foot traffic, where maximum visibility is critical for the driver. To make full use of the model’s advantages, the new trucks are suitable for indoor applications in particular, as the cab, doors or heating can be dispensed with. Many convenience features which require mounting, such as the LSP display, mobile phone holder or clipboard, are available to the driver in a different position. Linde also offers further equipment options, including a frameless windshield, also made from armoured glass, as well as a frameless rear window. For all counterbalanced forklift trucks, the option is also available to have the overhead guard frame made from armoured glass – for a clear view of what is going on above the driver’s head.
Huge warehouses with high shelves – this is the main area of application for reach trucks, which frequently work at lift heights of over 8 metres, with heights of even 13 metres not being uncommon. These entail risks, as the mast begins to sway when loaded trucks are used to access greater heights. This makes collisions with the shelving and damage to the load and equipment difficult to avoid. Up to now, in such cases only patience and waiting for the oscillation to subside were the only remedies, resulting in precious time being lost.
Innovative driver assistance systems such as Active Load Stabilisation (ALS) on the STILL FM-X reach truck or Dynamic Mast Control (DMC) from Linde Material Handling solve this issue. An electric, highly responsive reach system compensates for mast movements with specific counter-movements. The system ensures that handling processes involving large lift heights are significantly quicker and safer to perform. No action is required on the part of the driver as the components work completely automatically in the background.
This increase in safety is made possible thanks to the recently developed electric reach system, which can be controlled more precisely and delicately than a hydraulic system, as is used in conventional reach trucks.
This results in a significantly steadier mast that makes handling much more efficient. Here is an example: the individual loading process is 17 seconds faster with the Linde DMC – with a reduction in consequential costs thanks to the reduced risk of accidents.
At STILL EMEA, active and passive truck safety also take top priority. By selecting various safety packages, trucks can be adapted to suit specific customer requirements. The equipment range covers everything from warning lights, panoramic mirrors and additional headlights, to load protection grilles, overhead guard frame grilles and assistance system for steering angle-dependent speed restriction. The latest example is the STILL Aura truck. A blue laser projects a spot of light on the floor in front of the truck, signalling that the truck is approaching. A similar system has been available for some time now from Linde Material Handling under the name BlueSpot.
The STILL assistance system OPTISPEED 4.0 and OPTISAFE assist the driver in certain driving situations. OPTISPEED 4.0 is a navigational aid for close quarters and provides the driver with a precise, semi-automated approach to the desired position. The system simplifies and optimises the approach by stopping the truck and forks automatically when the desired horizontal and vertical positions are reached. Transportation mistakes are avoided and efficiency increases thanks to reduced strain on the driver.
With OPTISAFE, special conditions such as height limits or the need for braking can be individually programmed for each separate aisle. Each individual aisle is recognized during the approach and the specific conditions taken into account as required. Truck positions are determined by means of an integrated vehicle distance measurement system using RFID transponders or barcode labels in the warehouse. This allows the operator to concentrate on the actual job at hand, be it storage or picking.
When developing Dematic’s innovative logistics solutions, the specialists also take into account core safety aspects. Whether palletising or storage and retrieval systems, the operators’ safety concerns are always in focus. Process optimisations and safety considerations go hand-in-hand, with smart control software not only increasing efficiency but also helping to minimise risks – such as through optimised coordination and control, and therefore through avoiding hazardous situations. All products are checked right from the development phase, and are inspected by Dematic’s Safety Committee. Following completion, a new check is performed to guarantee maximum user safety and even after installation of the supply-chain solution, Dematic supports customers if they have any safety optimisation concerns.
Ergonomic operation – centring on the person
Anyone who drives an industrial truck the whole day appreciates good ergonomic controls that minimise the stresses and strain of operation on the driver. This is another area where the KION Group sets standards with its products.
The ergonomic design of industrial trucks, and in particular driver cabs, is a core element of both brands’ philosophy, which is underscored by a long tradition. Linde developed the hydrostatic drive over 50 years ago. It allows intuitive control of the truck, and among other things offers gentle acceleration and braking. Linde industrial trucks still use this technology, which is also the basis for the brand’s distinctive twin drive pedals that offer nimble, responsive and safe control of Linde trucks. The same applies to STILL trucks, in which the driver can adjust the driving behaviour individually depending on the task at hand.
Thus, the guiding principle of ergonomics shapes the development of both brands. Trucks, safety equipment, fleet-management software and service solutions – everything is focused on the perfect interaction between man and machine.
This is especially apparent in a forklift’s cockpit. The ergonomic design of the driver’s cab is the key to safe, comfortable and efficient operation. After all, the less stressed a driver is, the further accident risks decline, sick-leave drops and performance improves.
All controls are arranged in such a way in all truck types so that they are easy to access. Armrests with a joystick for mast operation are standard at Linde, with all functions controllable electronically. The driver’s seat rotates 90 degrees, which not only improves visibility significantly, but also reduces health risks as it causes less physical strain. This is why it is recommended by the DGUV (the German Social Accident Insurance Association) – the leading association of professional trade associations and public accident insurance companies.
Depending on the model, the driver’s seat is optimised for the respective intended purpose, or can be modified to suit it. The new Linde model series T20/T25 SP platform pallet trucks are one example: thanks to Linde’s e-Driver technology, they can be comfortably operated single-handedly. The driver stands relaxed at a 45-degree angle to the direction of travel, and has the perfect all-round view of the route and load.
STILL EMEA takes ergonomics into account by offering a wide range of options, especially in terms of hydraulic controls where it offers six different controls depending on the customer’s requirements.
The operating units place special emphasis on reducing human body vibration – mechanical oscillations and vibrations to which the drivers and operators of forklift trucks and warehouse technology are exposed during the course of their everyday work. Even when some individual vibrations are hardly noticeable, in sum they are a considerable burden on operators. This is why Linde Material Handling has worked hard for over 20 years now on researching and developing technologies to deliver effective protection against these impacts on operators. And it has done so with great success: Linde products not only fall well within legal limits, Linde trucks also regularly outperform the competition in independent tests.
STILL EMEA developed its own rigorous test methods to put new ergonomic comfort technologies through their paces on special test tracks. The vibration load on the driver can be optimally reduced by means of a floating cab mounted on the truck frame or longitudinal horizontal damping under the seat.
Dematic intralogistic solutions also help to reduce workflow activities which have a particularly adverse ergonomic impact while making the working day safer and healthier – through process optimisations that reduce the number of steps required to perform a task and therefore reduce the number of manual processes required. Dematic’s RapidPick System, for example, combines efficiency and speed with optimised ergonomic design. The work platform is individually adjustable so that it can be operated in the best physical position in the ‘golden zone’, without needing to raise the arms above the shoulders and with maximum relief for the neck region. In addition, there is no more need for the staff to move heavy loads, as these are delivered and removed automatically.