Forklifts are an essential part of beverage warehouse operations. Responsible for transporting hundreds of products a day from the production equipment to distribution trucks, forklifts also must be careful not to cause damage during the process. Fuel prices have been unpredictable these days and many forklift suppliers are producing more electric-based forklift trucks in lieu of vehicles that use gas.
Greenville, N.C.-based Hyster Co. in May released the E45-70XN series of counterbalanced electric forklifts. The newly designed operator module provides an operator compartment that features a 20 percent increase in floor space and a relocated ‘heads-up’ multifunction display for visibility and pallet control, the company says. The forklifts can maneuver loads between 4,500 pounds and 7,000 pounds.
“This new series has gotten us to a point where we can match and improve on the performance levels that were traditionally expected from internal combustion products,” says George Marshall, director of sales development at Hyster. “They are based on electric products and obviously that has got some advantages because of the green opportunities that it gives to the end user.”
The hood of the E45-70XN series was redesigned to provide maximum battery service access to reduce downtime. In addition, the forklifts use AC motors and transistor controller technology for all traction and hydraulic systems. Other features include an overhead guard, LED work/brake/backup tail lights, ergonomically designed operator compartment, optional suspension and swivel seats, a stability system to reduce truck leans in turns and an elastomeric-mounted cast ductile iron steel axle.
“Specifications have increased dramatically to be able to allow a productivity level much higher than has ever been possible with electric-based trucks,” Marshall says. “The efficiency with which that electricity is used from the batteries on the trucks is at a much higher level, again because of the choice of the componentry in the truck. We have a single cable now that delivers to the various options where the power is needed.”
The single wire is part of the CANbus communications network, which reduces wiring complexity. The one-way routing path for wire harnesses ensures consistent assembly while simplifying maintenance when needed, the company says.
Designed for comfort
Yale Co., also based in Greenville, N.C., introduced its ERC-VG series of counterbalanced sit-down electric forklifts. The operating systems are offered at 36, 48 and 80 volts with capacities from 4,500 to 7,000 pounds. With comfort in mind, the floorboard is open and spacious, and the steering wheel and operator’s seat are offset to reduce fatigue and improve efficiency, the company says.
“The operator compartment and controls layout provide excellent ergonomics, which allows the operator to be more productive during a shift,” says Mark Estock, director of national account sales at Yale. “Several key features contributing to the improved comfort and higher customer productivity include 20 percent more floor space, seat-side directional control and dedicated storage compartments to keep work areas free from clutter and debris.”
Additional features of the ERC-VG include manual hydraulic levers and optional AccuTouch e-hydraulic mini-levers and armrest, repositioned operator interface, reverse drive handle with a horn, three-point entry with slip-resistant step, a tilt steer column with optional telescoping function and a full suspension seat with non-cinch seat belts.
The forklifts come with Yale’s Intellix Vehicle Systems Manager (VSM) technology, which provides improvements in traction and hydraulic speeds, the company says. The VSM, AC traction and hydraulic motor reduce energy consumption over prior models, Estock says. BI
“These features allow beverage industry companies to maximize their return on investment with Yale lift trucks and allow the ERC-VG to be a viable alternative to internal combustion trucks,” he adds. “This becomes very important as beverage industry customers evaluate their green profile, carbon footprint and warehouse expansion needs.”

Forklift attachment

For use on forklifts in a warehouse, Washington, Pa.-based Tygard Machine & Manufacturing Co. provides an attachment to forklifts that has the ability to pick layers of product and stack them onto pallets. The Tygard Claw is a layer-picking device that can build a mixed pallet of products, transfer a slip sheet to a pallet or transfer an international pallet to a domestic pallet. It also can remove damaged products from a pallet or remove a broken pallet.
“The companies can now use the Claw to pick both beverage pallets — 38-by-38 inches; grocery pallets, which are 40-by-48 inches; and very small 32-by-37 pallets,” says Kip Tygard, managing partner at Tygard Machine & Manufacturing Co.
The Tygard Claw can be both side- and front-mounted on a forklift truck. The side-mount design fits on a 6,000-pound capacity lift truck, and can pick approximately 2,000 cases per hour. The side-mount Tygard Claw hangs on the left side of the truck so it can pick and stack the product, and it is kept evenly aligned with the truck by the same rail the truck is running in, the company says. The front-mount design works on a 5,000-pound capacity lift truck, and picks between 900 and 1,200 cases per hour.
In addition to the forklift attachment, Tygard also offers a ram, which is designed to fit into the empty holes or “chimneys” of layered product. Products that have a “chimney” through the layers often cannot be layer-picked due to instability, the company says.