Forklifts are essential pieces of equipment because of the sheer mechanics in transporting beverage pallets throughout warehouses and other locations. Many companies supply full lines of forklifts for the industry, but electric-run and zero gas-emission lift trucks are among the most common. Truck producers continue to focus on maneuverability and load capacity as well.
Maneuverability as well as high load capacity are important qualities for forklifts working in the beverage industry, says Kenro Okamoto, product planner for Toyota Material Handling USA Inc., Irvine, Calif.
The company’s 7FBCU15-32 is a four-wheel electric counterbalance sit-down truck with capacities of 3,000 to 6,500 pounds. The truck also features Toyota’s SAS system, which was developed to increase safety and prevent trucks from tipping over, Okamota says. SAS Automatic Fork Leveling is a feature of SAS that takes the guesswork out of finding the 90 degree angle to place the pallet load, he says.
“When you’re going to a rack and you’ve got the truck staged very high in the air, you kind of have to guess where 90 degrees is before you’re able to put the product into the racking,” Okamoto says. “With our truck, you can push a button and you push the tilt level forward and the truck will automatically go to 90 degrees.”
Okamoto says another model that supplements the four-wheel electric counterbalance trucks is the 8HBT, a part of the 8-Series AC Pallet truck line introduced last summer.
The 8HBT is unique because it is an end-rider pallet truck and the operator actually stands on the end of it and maneuvers it throughout the warehouse, he says. They are designed to reduce maintenance and increase productivity.
Toyota’s 7HBW23 is an electric pallet truck with capacities up to 4,500 pounds. The forks are 45.5 inches in length. Operators can use this pallet truck by pulling or pushing it to the designated area. The control handle is spring-loaded and features a password-protected electronic key pad.
“These are perfect for the delivery drivers because they have many features that allow them to maneuver in and out of trailers with the loads very efficiently,” Okamoto says.
He adds the beverage industry is affixing more attachments such as the push-pull and plastic mirrors to forklifts.
The push-pull attachment can push the product off the pallet instead of sliding underneath the boxes, and layer pickers work well as attachments because the operators can use the truck to lift more than one layer of pallets at a time, Okamoto says. Plastic mirrors work well because glass is not allowed in most plants and warehouses because of the risk of breaking and contamination, he says.
Hyster Co., Greenville, N.C., offers a full line of forklift trucks ranging from capacities of 2,500 pounds to 115,000 pounds. The company’s E45-65Z, J40-65Z and W40Z-80Z Series of trucks are used most often for beverage applications.
The E45-65Z is a series of electric counterbalance sit-down lift trucks designed for indoor warehouse use. The load capacity for the E45-65Z series is 4,500 to 6,500 pounds with speeds up to 11 miles per hour.
The W40-65Z is a series of electric walk-behind trucks, and maintains the benefits of an internal combustion truck with lower maintenance needs and no exhaust emissions, the company says. The trucks have load capacities of 4,000 to 6,500 pounds. The W40-65Z uses pneumatic tires, which reduce vibrations as the loads are transported. An 80-volt battery also is used on the W40-65Z series.
Hyster also offers electric motorized hand lift trucks for the beverage industry such as the W40Z-80Z Walkie Pallet Trucks with a load capacity of 4,000 to 8,000 pounds. The forks for this series are available in 36-, 42-, 48- and 60-inch lengths, depending on the model in the series.
“In docking areas, you need to utilize the space as well as you can. You tend to have narrower, smaller areas in which the forklift truck can work. These trucks [walk-behinds] are specifically made to be maneuverable in tight spaces,” says George Marshall, director of sales development for Hyster Co.
Forklift attachments
Cat Lift Trucks, Houston, believes that attachments are one of the main trends in forklifts.
“Customers are looking to improve the capacity of their trucks due to attachment usage and the desire to handle heavier loads and carry multiple pallets per move,” says Ken Biediger, senior product manager, Cat Lift Trucks.
Cat Lift Trucks offers a full line of forklifts, but the most popular for the beverage industry are its cushion trucks, walkies and walkie end-riders.
The company’s E5000 electric counterbalance lift truck has cushion tires, and a load capacity of 4,000 pounds. It can run as fast as 9.6 miles per hour. The WP4500 is an all-purpose electric walkie with a 4,500 pound capacity and runs at top speeds of 3.7 miles per hour. The WR6000 AC electric walkie end-rider can carry up to 6,000 pounds and is unique because the operator stands on the walkie end-rider as it runs.
The models are often equipped with specialized attachments such as the double-sideshifter, Biediger says. This attachment allows the lift truck to carry two pallets side-by-side for better productivity. The improved operating efficiency of forklifts allows users to pick up or move more pallets per hour, he says.
Green initiatives
Another company that offers electric as well as internal combustion forklift trucks for the beverage industry is Jungheinrich Lift Truck Corp., Richmond, Va. The company also carries order pickers, reach trucks, hand pallet trucks, stackers and tow trackers.
The Jungheinrich EJE 2 Series forklifts are electric pedestrian controlled pallet trucks. The EJE 220 and EJE 225 are the most popular of the series because they are compact and can be transported on the trucks with the pallet loads, says Jeff Bowles, product manager for Class 1 North America and electric counterbalance sit down trucks. The EJE 220 and EJE 225 have load capacities of 4,400 and 5,500 pounds, respectively.
The ergonomic advantage of the EJE 2 Series trucks is the long tiller handle that keeps the operator a safe distance from the truck load, the company says.
Jungheinrich also offers its EFG 213-220 three-wheel and EFG 425-430 four-wheel series of electric counterbalance trucks. The EFG 213-220 has twin AC motor front-wheel drive and a load capacity of 2,860 to 4,400 pounds. The EFG 425-430 also has front-wheel AC drive as well as an automatic parking brake feature and a workstation with solo or multi-pilot control.
“The most important thing is we offer an electric truck that allows beverage companies to use a zero emissions truck that will allow them to have a much lower cost of ownership because of the huge disparity in the cost of fossil fuel vs. electricity,” Bowles says. “It gives the versatility to be used in a warehouse [and] also outdoors and in wet applications.”
Zero emission trucks are featured by Komatsu Forklift USA Inc., Covington, Ga., as well.
Komatsu provides several internal combustion and electric forklifts with load capacities that range from 3,000 to 35,000 pounds. The BX50, an AC electric four wheel sit-down truck is the most popular for the beverage industry, says Keith Allmandinger, senior marketing manager at Komatsu. The BX50 can carry 4,000 to 6,500 pounds.
Having an AC electric truck is important because you don’t want odors or emissions contaminating the beverages, he says.
“People go with electric trucks because they are zero emissions,” Allmandinger says. “They are just thought to be cleaner, less oil, less possible contamination and dirt, less moving parts and less maintenance.”
The BX50 uses a lead-acid rechargeable battery that lasts a full eight-hour shift, he says.
Komatsu also introduced a new hybrid forklift this year, that is currently available in Japan.
“We’d like to get it to the U.S. market as quickly as possible because it’s technology that everyone is embracing right now with all of the move to green and lower emissions and the best thing for the environment.”
Lower emission standards and the green movement are also important to Yale Materials Handling Co., Greenville, N.C.
“There is a lot of talk about the green footprint and some fuel cell technology, which we are working with and monitoring,” says J.B. Mayes, manager of target marketing and analysis at Yale Material Handling Co. “Our trucks are capable of taking fuel cell battery technology now, but these battery companies have to come up with one that is cost effective and affordable.”
Yale offers a full line of forklifts, with the ERC-AH and MPB-E models the most applicable to the beverage industry.
The ERC-AH is a four-wheel AC power electric rider cushion truck with a capacity range of 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. Electric riders are typically used in finished goods areas to move products on docks and load trailers, Mayes says.
The MPB-E model is a Low-Lift Walkie Pallet, better known as a “walk behind.” The product is built with an AC motor and the capacity is a maximum of 4,000 pounds. With the low-profile equipment, operators can view the fork tips for pallet entry, the company says.
 “Both of our models and all of our trucks are designed for a number of different things,” Mayes says. “But obviously we’re concerned with productivity levels and the customer concern with keeping the customer’s cost to operate the units as low as possible. We’re also making sure that the drivers can work well with the machines and be productive over the course of the shift.”
Choosing the right truck for the specific operation is essential for efficient productivity.
The Raymond Corp., Greene, N.Y., offers a range of forklifts for many beverage applications including stand-up counterbalance trucks, three and four-wheel sit down counterbalance trucks, reach-fork trucks, four-dimensional trucks, order pickers, swing-reach trucks, pallet trucks and hand pallet trucks.
The stand-up and sit-down counterbalance trucks are the most applicable for the beverage industry, says Frank Devlin, segment manager for Raymond Corp.
The Models 4100 and 4200 are stand up counterbalance trucks and have load capacities of 3,000 to 5,000 pounds. The Model 4400 three-wheel sit-down counterbalance truck can carry a maximum of 4,000 pounds. The 4700 Series includes four-wheel sit-down counterbalance trucks and has a load capacity of 3,000 to 6,000 pounds. BI