HOW DO you perfect an already great, market-leading forklift? This was the dilemma faced by Toyota. The Series 7 forklift range set a new technology benchmark when launched eight years ago, and has helped Toyota take 24 percent of the global forklift market, and maintain its market leading position in New Zealand.
Now with the launch of the Series 8 forklift range, Toyota has managed to raise safety and ergonomic levels even higher, as well as reduce operating costs and further minimise the impact on the environment.
The Series 8 improvements begin with its increased ease of use. Toyota has designed a smaller steering wheel, lower step height, increased seat fore/aft travel, increased head clearance, increased ease of entry and exit, reduced noise levels (five dBa less than Series 7) and reduced vibration. Toyota has paid special attention to increasing the operators range of visibility by redesigning the instrument panel, steering wheel, mast, load backrest beam, mast tilt beam and cabin roof.
Scott Carrick, AB Equipments general manager sales and marketing regards the Series 8 as an evolution of previous models, with enhanced safety, ergonomics, environmental impact, and cost of ownership. The new models are the result of a survey of 4500 customers globally, which assessed both current and future needs.
Carrick says exhaust emissions on the new Series 8 forklifts have been reduced significantly, making them compatible with certain cool-store environments. Service terms have been extended on the new forklifts and they are said to be 15 percent more fuel efficient than the Series 7.
Toyota is also offering a range of options to increase ease of operation. Machines that spend a high proportion of time running in reverse can be specified with a swivel operators seat, and a hand grip with integral horn button on the rear right hand side post of the overhead guard.
Toyota has thought of the little things too for example, improved cooling performance for the engine and hydraulic oil, water-proof connectors for the electric wiring harness, and a protective box to house the machine electronic control unit and relays. The Series 8 also has fewer cosmetic parts, seamless side frames and increased corrosion protection.
Safety features include Toyotas System of Active Stability (SAS) and Operator Presence Sensing (OPS) as standard. SAS was a world-first innovation, which assists the operator in preventing forklift tip-over accidents and spilt loads. With the Series 8 the company has taken SAS a step further with the introduction of optional features such as travel and load handling control. OPS technology is designed to prevent accidental movement of the forklift when the operator is not seated at the controls.
Carrick says that the Series 8 internal combustion counterbalance forklifts will initially come in a range of petrol/ LPG models from one to 3.5 tonnes including compacts.