Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Forklift Maker Looks to Make Smart Vehicles Safer and More Efficient

Hyster Using New Technology to Interconnect Port Loads and Machinery
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – Materials handling equipment and forklifts manufacturer Hyster has started fielding the results of their development programme to explore and develop a range of options for truck-to-truck, truck-to-object and truck-to-pedestrian detection systems with the aim of improving the awareness of lift truck drivers in port terminals and other freight handling areas. The intention is to combine cameras, telematics and other technologies to ‘connect’ Hyster vehicles so as to improve safety, productivity and visibility for the smart ports of tomorrow. Ed Stilwell, Functional System Leader for Hyster, said:

“Lift truck drivers and pedestrians need to maintain proper awareness of each other, especially in port and terminal operations. Technology can help with this, but to be effective it must meet the specific needs of the handling application. Lift trucks, for instance, manoeuvre in many different directions, but often have reduced visibility for the driver, compared to a car. Therefore, existing technologies from the automotive sector are often not advanced enough for these complex needs.”

To help operators stay focused on the load and the driving path, while increasing awareness of people and other machines, Hyster has explored and identified a series of proximity and object detection systems. They are modular and can work individually or collectively.

The first automatically detects objects, with multiple sensors that adjust their range with the vehicle speed. It detects objects while driving in a straight line as well as during turning manoeuvres where the tail of the truck is either leading or swinging. When an object is detected, the operator is warned through haptic and audible alerts like a vibration and buzzer. The driver can then react accordingly. Stilwell continued:

“We can add proximity sensors that enable truck-to-truck and even truck-to-pedestrian awareness. This is important as many operations are moving more product and containers without expanding their footprint. This means there are often more trucks and people working in close proximity than ever before, with increased pressure on productivity.”

Larger material handling machines require significant space to operate, needing ample room to accommodate the ‘tail swing’ of the rear end. Furthermore, the load at the front of the truck when traveling forward and backward needs extra space and can inhibit the driver’s view.

In addition to detection systems, Stilwell says that cameras can also help to improve visibility in certain applications, making it possible to view the immediate area surrounding a truck and the load. To keep operators focused on the load and the path ahead, cameras can be set to activate only when an object is detected and then display an image on screen.

Cameras can be used to assist with container engagements and multiple camera views can be stitched together into one image so the operator doesn’t have to spend valuable seconds trying to figure out what view a camera is displaying.

Hyster are also exploring the future needs of smart ports, which will monitor all vehicles in the vicinity. The Hyster Tracker telematics solution can be installed on a variety of mobile equipment and enables port operators to collect data, from daily service checks to accident reports and utilisation analysis. Easily-accessed reporting provides quick visibility to key metrics that help keep port operations running efficiently.

Hyster Tracker provides controlled operator access, proactive maintenance alerts and reactive impact and fault codes. GPS tracking data also helps identify areas within an operation that may present a higher probability of incidents, such as congestion-prone areas.