Blog

Welcome to Dillon Toyota Lift's blog. Here you will find everything from product features, industry education, operator insights, racking, warehouse design, material handling solutions, safety, trends, best practices and more!  

 

Jun 14

Toyota’s continued commitment to safety sets the standard in the material handling industry. At Toyota, we take safety as an enduring promise to our customers, one that we’ve delivered on time and time again, from our introduction the System of Active Stability in 1999 to our continued support of National Forklift Safety Day.  As Toyota Material Handling President and CEO and former Industrial Truck Association chairman, Brett Wood, says “If you have a safe, comfortable operator, you’ll have a productive operator.”

But maintaining the health and safety of your employees isn’t just imperative to the success of your business. It is also your legal responsibility under OSHA’s General Duty Clause. An unsafe workplace environment can have a much deeper impact than just lost time and productivity or increased cost. Working in unsuitable conditions or operating unsafe machinery can cause considerable damage or even fatal outcomes. What measures can you take to ensure the safety of your employees and maintain a culture of safety awareness for forklift equipment?

Be sure that only trained operators are using any forklifts or other equipment.

All equipment should be properly maintained and inspected regularly to confirm that it is in safe working condition.

All equipment should be used as intended.

An unsafe environment can lead to expensive costs of repairs, including incremental damage that can cost about ten times that of the cost of forklift repairs. Adding a Toyota Planned or Full Maintenance plan can help you ensure the excellent and safe working condition of your forklift and reduce these costly, incremental repairs. By making sure these precautions are in place, you will help protect your employees and your equipment. 

 

 


Jun 10

At Toyota, we understand that daily challenges like product flow and line layout can make it difficult to run a productive and efficient operation with limited downtime. Efficiency in component and product delivery can be a game-changer for a wide variety of operations.

Used widely in both manufacturing and warehouse environments to help deliver components that are needed regularly and repetitively, Automated Guided Carts can offer an automated solution that is easy to integrate with little interruption to your operation. And because of reduced movement of associates, they can concentrate on less repetitive delivery tasks and focus directly on their tasks – resulting in immediate ROI.

Discover how AGCs can help you navigate your facility confidently and take your operation to new heights.

  1. Magnetic Tape Guidance

One key to deciding to move toward automation, and deciding how to begin your move into automating processes, is ease of set up and limiting impact to your day-to-day operation during installation. Setting up Toyota’s AGC in your facility is simple. Trained experts will first help you map out paths and material flow that are specific to your operation. Then, high-strength magnetic tape and unique RFID markers will be applied along the routed path. Durable magnetic tape is used to limit interference from surrounding magnetic sources that can be found naturally on some customers’ floors. The RFID markers confirm the cart’s location and provides additional instructions, further reducing the probability of disrupting the material flow and ensuring reliable performance.

When assessing your automation options, make sure you’re working with a partner who can quickly and seamlessly help you integrate new products and processes in your facility.

  1. Tow Pin With Spring

While some companies hesitate to invest in new automation solutions because of concerns related to repairs, models like Toyota’s AGCs are built to be reliable and include back up functionality in the rare case of automation failure. Toyota models come with an actuated tow pin with a spring that manually lowers the pin in the event of a misalignment, keeping you on the go, limiting your downtime. When assessing automated cart technology, it’s good to ask your integration partners what might happen in the event of a technology failure.

  1. Software Enhanced

Seamless technology integration means much more than just easy installation. Prolonging the ease of using automated technology is a main factor in your investment decision. Toyota AGC’s, for example, have a built-in touch screen display that allows you to monitor key information and make changes to your route, speed, and vehicle parameters at the touch of a button – no laptop needed. LIAISON Fleet Management software makes it easy for you to make updates to routes long after the initial installation and requires no licensing fees.

Toyota’s AGCs also have a laser obstacle scanner that allows it to monitor objects or pedestrians in its path, slowing or stopping when an object or pedestrian is detected. Additionally, this scanner can be programmed to fit different zones and allow intuitive operation near pedestrians and within confined spaces. Good automation investment empowers you toward long-term success. When assessing your next steps into automation, take into account the long view of your business success – your automation should grow with you.

 

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Mar 02

A Toyota Reach Truck for Indoor and Outdoor Applications

Do you spend most of your day outside in a lumberyard or inside a rugged warehouse? Maybe you are required to work inside and outside? Many material handling trucks are not equipped to work indoors and outdoors or durable enough to work in a rugged indoor facility. You may think that a quick trip outside is harmless but repeat use of indoor trucks outside is not only harmful to your operators, but also your trucks. The buildup of dirt and debris and exposure to elements like rain and snow can wreak havoc on forklifts and their components, which leads to more downtime for repairs. Submitting your operators to the outdoors without proper protection can lead to reduced productivity or bad operating habits. It is vital to protect your trucks and operators for whatever environment they will be in. This is where Toyota’s Reach Truck products can assist with its indoor and outdoor capabilities.

Toyota’s Moving Mast Reach Truck products maximize productivity, performance, and efficiency. With an indoor model as well as an indoor/outdoor model, there is a truck to fit your needs. Each model features a right-hand control unit and an optional air-ride suspension seat to maximize productivity and comfort. Operators can customize performance and operating characteristics to meet their needs while also getting continuous updates on lift height, load weight, and fork alignment on a touchscreen display. Both indoor and indoor/outdoor models promote operator comfort and functionality to support productivity shift after shift.

MOVING MAST REACH TRUCK

The Moving Mast Reach Truck has lift heights up to 42.5 feet and a 5,500 lb. lifting capacity. Innovative ergonomics and technology offer clear and precise control for fast, smooth handling shift after shift. With an innovative mast design, a tilting cab, and an optional transparent roof, operators can maintain visibility at high lift heights. The Moving Mast Reach Truck features the tilting cab to reduce the risk of operator strain in repetitive high-level applications. It improves the visibility of the load so the operator can see the fork tips when elevated without moving their head.

INDOOR/OUTDOOR MOVING MAST REACH TRUCK

The Indoor/Outdoor Moving Mast Reach Truck excels with lift heights up to 24.5 feet and 3,500 lb. lifting capacity. The Indoor/Outdoor Moving Mast Reach Truck features weather protection options such as overhead and mast-direction windows, additional side windows, fan heater, and a fully enclosed cab with a door to support operator comfort in outdoor environments. This Reach Truck offers unmatched versatility due to the diameter of its large rubber pneumatic tires, high ground clearance, and multiple weather protection options. While reaching high and heavy loads can be challenging, the Indoor/Outdoor Moving Mast Reach Truck maintains a clear view with an optional panoramic roof and unique mast design, maintaining upward visibility and minimal load view obstruction.

Toyota’s Moving Mast Reach Truck products are capable of handling your most demanding challenges in warehousing, manufacturing, distribution, factory, retail, food storage/processing, and even cold storage applications. Its unmatched versatility, performance capabilities, and operator comfort contribute to keeping you going shift after shift. Whatever your needs may be, indoor or outside, these Reach Trucks are built for you. To learn more about Toyota’s Moving Mast Reach Trucks and optimizing indoor and outdoor capabilities.


Mar 01

Hand pallet jacks have been a simple, reliable solution for the transportation of pallets throughout the entire supply chain. Understanding how they operate can help you be more productive, safe, and efficient when using one.

This guide will cover hand pallet jack anatomy to help give you a better understanding of the various components and how they work.

These tips do not take the place of reading the user instructions or proper operator training, but they reinforce some of the basic principles for operating a hand pallet jack. Please reference your Operator’s Manual for more information on required training and knowledge needed prior to operation.

Hand Pallet Jack Anatomy

Each part of the pallet jack is essential to its efficient operation.

Starting from the top of the pallet jack, there is the handle and control lever. These are used for manual moving, lifting, and lowering of the pallet jack.

The handle can be rotated left and right to adjust the direction of the steer wheels, changing the direction of travel. It can also be rotated downward, allowing you to pull the pallet jack comfortably.

The control lever is located on the inside of the handle on the right-hand side. It has two different positions, which are used to lift and lower the forks.

  • Control Lever Operation (Raised Position) – Squeezing in the control lever causes the lift cylinder to lower, which also lowers the forks. The lowering is proportional, so the more you squeeze, the faster the forks will lower.
  • Control Lever Operation (Lowered Position) – Pushing forward on the control lever puts it in the lowered position. When in this position, pulling down on the handle raises the forks proportionally with each motion.

The steer wheels and hydraulic pump are at the base of the unit and are operated using the handle and control lever. There are two different types of wheels available for manual hand pallet jacks: nylon and polyurethane.  Read more about these two types of wheels here.

Next, the steel frames comprised of two forks that are connected together at the base. Most hand pallet jacks are designed to handle a standard 40” x 48” pallet. This is due to the dimensions of the forks and the load wheel placement.

The load wheels are located at the end of each fork and are necessary for travel and supporting the load. Just like the steer wheels, there are different types of load wheel compounds available. The load wheels are connected to lift linkages that run the length of the forks.  When the handle is used to raise the forks, the lift cylinder extends, causing the linkages to articulate and the load wheels to raise. It’s always important to note the load wheel’s placement before lifting a pallet or other type of load.


Feb 16

As environmental concerns and fluctuating oil prices continue to push consumers toward alternatives to traditional internal combustion (IC) engines, forklift operations have increasingly looked toward electric vehicle solutions over the last decade.

Customers are now buying far more electric forklifts than those powered by IC engines. Electric forklifts now make up 70 percent of total sales, and with increasing demand for electric power comes a need to provide a solution that provides all of the benefit of IC without a loss in productivity.

Lead acid batteries have been a capable solution for years, and they continue to dominate the market today. It is estimated that lead acid batteries power 90 percent of electric forklifts in operation.

But a new player has emerged on the scene in recent years and is revolutionizing the way some companies do business. Lithium-ion battery (LiB) technology represents the next generation of forklift efficiency, and experts say that LiB market share in electric forklifts will grow significantly over the next five years.

So, what’s all the hype about? Does lithium-ion make sense for every customer? Is it true that lithium-ion is better for the environment than lead acid? Here’s what experts at a few of the top LiB manufacturers had to say.

Does Lithium-Ion Technology Make Sense For Every Customer?

While LiB technology offers unique benefits, experts admit they don’t always make sense for every customer. Each battery manufacturer is different in how it determines whether LiB is a good fit for a specific customer.

Navitas Systems uses a calculation called Equivalent Battery Usage, or EBU, to determine if LiB is the right solution for a given customer. Navitas uses a threshold of 1.6 EBUs, meaning customers using their lead acid batteries more than an average of 1.6 times per day is a potential fit for LiB. If a customer’s EBU number falls below 1.6, however, Navitas will likely recommend that the customer continue using lead acid.

“Typically, multi-shift – 2-3 shift applications – are above 1.6 EBUs,” said Samer ElShafei, Navitas’ Vice President for Commercial and Industrial Sales. “We deal with automotive, general distribution, food distribution, retail, paper industries. It’s well-rounded. It’s really any type of application that operates equipment more than 1 shift a day.”

Electrovaya doesn’t have a specific metric it uses to determine the viability of LiB for a given customer. Instead, the company advises on more of a case-by-case basis.

Electrovaya initially offered sample batteries to customers and let them use them for 2-3 weeks. Then, based on the data collected from the battery, they could determine whether or not the battery was well suited to that customer’s application.

“Based on the lessons learned from these trials and the wealth of data, we can now do a really good job prescribing the right solution for you,” said Dr. Jeremy Dang, Electrovaya’s Director of Business and Project Development. “We can talk to a new customer today and ask them a few questions like, ‘how many trucks do you have? How many chargers? How many lead acid batteries? How many shifts?’ And from there, we can prescribe a solution that is right for them.”

Flux Power offers a similar view. The company installs its own telematics on the forklifts, the batteries, and the chargers to help determine if their batteries are right for a particular customer.

Flux conducted a survey with a small Costco distribution center that had eight units and was operating at about a shift and a half. After testing LiBs on the fleet, Flux recommended they stay with lead acid.

“It didn’t make sense for them to spend $20K for a big battery for some of their stand-up units,” said Tod Kilgore, Flux Power’s Director of Sales. “The lead acid out right now is very good technology, but there’s a time and a place for it. The same is true with lithium. If you’ve got smaller fleets and a single shift, you don’t go with lithium.”

The reason lithium-ion doesn’t make sense for every customer today is simple – the high upfront cost and the high variability in return on investment. LiBs are more expensive than lead acid batteries, and they’re best used in high-throughput applications, experts say.

“The higher the EBU, the quicker the return,” said Navitas’ ElShafei. “Generally, at greater than 1.6 EBUs, we’re seeing positive returns on investment in 18-24 months. The primary thing is finding the right application for the right technology.”

“We do often get inquiries from customers who are interested, and many times, we do tell them that this is not the right product for them based on their operation,” said Electrovaya’s Dang. “If you’re a one- or a two-shift operation, we find that the return on investment is not as great. In those cases, even if they’re still interested, we minimize the capital cost by offering a smaller battery and play around with the battery/charger ratio such that they don’t have too many chargers. But most of the time, we look for customers who are of a 24/7 or 24/6 nature. This is where you’re really going to see the true benefit of lithium.”

Exploring the Target Market for LiB: More Than Just Cold Storage

There are quite a few applications where lithium-ion makes sense – but some are garnering more attention of battery manufacturers than others.

The cold storage industry is the most obvious because of lithium’s ability to perform in a wide range of temperatures and environments.

“In cold storage, lead acid batteries don’t perform that well,” said Dang. “The impedance and impact on capacity is a killer for them.”

Lithium-ion batteries, however, can be manufactured with heaters installed to thrive such conditions. Nearly all of Electrovaya’s batteries, for example, come with an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP65, meaning the battery’s internal components are protected from water and condensation, as well as in temperatures as low as minus-35 degrees Celsius.

IP ratings range from 0-69, and are used to qualify levels of dust- and water-sealing effectiveness. LiBs for cold storage applications typically have an IP rating* between 65 and 67. A rating of IP65 means the product is “water resistant”, a rating of IP66 means it is “water resistant against powerful jets”, and IP67 means the product is protected from “immersion between 15 centimeters and 1 meter in depth”. For comparison, modern cell phones typically have an IP rating of 67 or 68, which protects the product from “long-term immersion up to a specified pressure”.

“Some of our competitors are offering two separate battery solutions based on the temperature application,” Dang said. “For cold storage customers, they’ll provide a battery with some sort of heater, and in an ambient environment, they’ll take away the heater. In our case, we have a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. We don’t care if it’s a minus 35-degree application or a 35-degree application, we prescribe the same battery model.”

Cold storage makes sense for LiBs, but the applicability of lithium-ion is much broader than just one industry, Navitas’ ElShafei says.

“It’s really associated with how much energy is being used,” he said. “It has great application and returns in the cold storage industry, but the applicability is much broader than cold storage. Some might reference it because that’s their initial target market where they focus their product or their efforts on.”

Another area where LiBs are a good fit are for third-party logistics companies.

“Those are some of our heavy-duty users,” said Dang. “It’s the nature of the business. They are moving goods all the time, so they may require heavy-duty, high-capacity batteries, something lead acid won’t necessarily be able to handle.”

The Transition to LiB: ‘A Culture Change’

Most companies have been using lead acid batteries for many years, so the decision to transition to a new technology isn’t always easy – and the transition itself isn’t always seamless.

Perhaps the top factor for customers considering the transition?

“Obviously the cost,” says Navitas’ ElShafei. “For the new technology, it is more costly up front. If the customer is able to look at the investment from a total cost of ownership, then that helps out with lithium rather than just the upfront price.”

Added Flux Power’s Kilgore: “The thing about lithium is you need data from telematics because your initials costs are so high. We’re not going to sell a battery to a customer that doesn’t make sense or isn’t going to generate a return on investment.”

If a customer determines LiB makes sense for their application after analyzing the total cost of ownership, there are still several things to consider in preparation for the transition. Adopting LiB requires significant training, reconfiguring of facilities, and more.

For example, forklift operators need to be trained on lithium – especially if they are unfamiliar with opportunity charging. With LiB powered forklifts, operators are asked to plug the batteries into a charger every time the forklift is not in use – even if it’s just for a short break.

“This is not something that they’re used to. So, in the first two months, operators were not plugging in their batteries, and batteries were too drained for the next shift,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “It took two months to fully train them, show them that it’s very important to plug in during any break, whether it’s a five-minutes or 30 minutes. In that time, even though it doesn’t seem like much, the battery will recover a lot of energy that was already used, so it’s beneficial to the next person that wants to use the truck.

“With every customer we’ve done this with, there’s always a culture change. The first two months will be rough, but after the first two months, things will be a lot smoother, and you’ll see the true benefit of our lithium-ion battery system.”

Regardless of the battery type, though, Navitas’ ElShafei says opportunity charging will become more and more common in the future – even for lead acid batteries. While there may be a learning curve for operators, there are undeniable benefits to an opportunity charging approach.

Opportunity charging offers the ability to decentralize the charging location by having multiple charging stations.

“We have some situations where customers have smaller charging areas and they may have 20 trucks park in one area, but they do that in 5 different areas within the facility,” ElShafei says. “We’ve seen other facilities where they spread out chargers all throughout their manufacturing facilities and they don’t even need to take the truck to the break room in that situation. They might park it at a piece of equipment on the manufacturing line. The bottom line is opportunity charging offers a lot of flexibility.”

Battery manufacturers can help make the transition from lead acid to LiB smoother by helping companies train their employees and re-think their facility layout.

“In the beginning, the training was a bit ad-hoc, but now we do have formal training programs – both with the customers’ maintenance team and master trainers, and with some of the forklift dealers themselves,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “In most cases, our customers install the chargers right beside the break room or by the bathroom because it’s more practical that way. It’s an easy way to remind and encourage operators to always plug the batteries in. But in some cases, customers don’t have the flexibility to add chargers to a specific location due to limitations in their facility.”

Flux Power conducts a full site survey prior to any installation to come up with a custom design that works based on the customer’s unique operational needs and concerns.

“It’s a learning experience, and education is a big deal. It’s a totally different technology, and a totally different mindset,” said Flux Power’s Kilgore. “Most customers have forklift operators that have been working for 10 or 20 years with lead acid on their mind, and it’s not easy to change that mindset. It’s like going from a cassette to a CD.”

But the experts we talked to all agreed: Retraining and rethinking facility layouts are not deterring customers from shifting to LiB.

“Our customers are understanding, they’re quite progressive. The number one factor is cost,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “Not everyone can afford or has the budget to buy lithium, especially for a smaller operation. But for someone like Amazon or WalMart, a 24/7 distribution center, the return on investment is clear, and they have the budget to afford the initial high capital investment.”

Not Always Greener

There are many reasons why the material handling industry has shifted to electric products. Electric forklifts require significantly less maintenance, offer lower operating costs than IC products, and are quieter.

But one of the top reasons for the gradual shift to electric? Companies are becoming more and more conscious of how they’re impacting the environment, and electric forklifts produce zero emissions during operations.

Because lithium-ion batteries are more efficient than their lead-acid counterparts, it’s reasonable to think that LiBs would be a greener option. But that’s not always the case – LiBs have their own environmental concerns.

The major components of a lithium-ion cell require the mining of lithium carbonate, copper, aluminum, and iron ore. Lithium is only a minor portion of the battery cell by mass, so the environmental impacts of copper and aluminum are much more significant.

The biggest differentiator, though, is the recyclability of the batteries. Lead acid batteries have been around for a long time, and as a result, have much more mature recycling programs. Lead acid batteries are recycled approximately 99 percent of the time, compared to LiBs, which currently have a recyclability rate of less than 5 percent.

“It definitely depends on how the lithium is mined and how it is recycled and returned to the environment,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “You only find a select few vendors in North America that are willing to recycle LiBs. But I believe that as the world transitions more towards using lithium, more recycling companies will pop up, and better recycling programs and technologies will be developed.

“There are some areas in which lead is greener than lithium, but the area in which lithium is really more environmentally friendly is in the application or the use of. Our LiBs are completely sealed with no gassing.”

As recycling programs are developed for LiBs, battery manufacturers are exploring unique ways to give these batteries a second and third life.

Flux Power asks that their customers send the batteries back when they’ve reached their limit, and Flux uses them as backup power for solar energy.

Navitas and Electrovaya are also finding ways to refurbish the used LiBs when they reach the end of their first intended use – which usually means a high-throughput operation.

“I think of the analogy of a cell phone,” says Navitas’ ElShafei. “You personally use your cell phone a lot, and at some point, you might say ‘my iPhone isn’t lasting as long anymore and doesn’t get me through my day’, so because of the battery life, you get a new phone. That will happen with a lift truck as well. There’s certainly a market for people who don’t use their iPhone as much as you do. Maybe they use it 4 hours out of the day and you use it 8-10 hours a day. The same is true with lift trucks. Maybe they put new software on it, they clean it up, they repaint it, they put new contactors and a fuse in it, and then they resell it to a 1-shift application that just uses it less frequently than the first customer.”

Electrovaya offers up to a 10-year warranty on their batteries. While their oldest battery is currently four years old, Electrovaya plans to repurpose batteries with any remaining life at the end of the 10-year warranty.

“We will find some second life application, whether it’s energy storage or maybe a one-shift operation like a mom and pop shop,” Dang says. “Every year, we do an annual inspection of the batteries. In our most recent inspection at the three-year mark, the batteries had minimal degradation, so they will actually surpass the warranty period. At the 10-year mark, as long as they stay on track, we do not plan on breaking down a battery and recycling it. We plan on repurposing it.

“The beauty of lithium is, depending on the specific lithium formulation and chemistry used, the batteries can last a very long time. In our case, we use NMC, or Nickel Magnesium Cobalt Lithium technology. This chemistry combined with our proprietary formulation permits the battery to last up to 9000 cycles. So, if you’re an operator that uses about 2-3 cycles a day, this battery is going to last up to 12 years, and that’s on the heavy usage side. If you’re a medium-duty user that uses 1-2 cycles a day, you’re looking at way above 15 years here. So, after the 10-year mark, you can definitely see another two years or even more in something such as energy storage.”

The Future of LiB

While the adoption of lithium-ion technology is growing, it still represents a rather small percentage of the material handling industry. Experts expect that to change over the next five years.

“There’s a misconception that in five years, someone can just create a battery that lasts twice as long as the battery previously,” says Navitas’ ElShafei. “Technology takes a long time to develop. With LiB, the technology is here now, and what’s going to happen in the next five years is the availability, the scale, and the distribution of the product will all increase and improve.”

Electrovaya’s Dang expects the price of lithium-ion technology to continue to drop as scale increases.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when and how much penetration this can get into other markets,” says Dang. “It’ll be a good thing for the entire space in general because costs will come down, manufacturers will find more innovative ways to manufacture lithium cells at a higher scale and a lower price. The same is true when it comes to mining the minerals needed to make lithium cells. It’s human nature for us to discover and optimize. The price we’re offering material handling customers today has significantly dropped since 2017.”

Battery manufacturers are thinking far beyond traditional forklifts when it comes to the future of LiBs. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Ground Support vehicles, public transit buses, and delivery vehicles are just a few areas where experts say LiB technology could be adopted.

“Material handling is the number one space that makes sense, but any vehicle that is actively used for more than 10 hours a day could benefit from lithium,” says Electrovaya’s Dr. Dang. “And in terms of R&D, lithium-ion cells will continue to increase in capacity, so it will be possible to power vehicles like delivery vans and buses safely.”

Flux Power has signed contracts with Delta and Southwest Airlines as they transition into the Ground Support market, and they’ve seen significant traction in the automated guided vehicles arena as well.

“The future of lithium is really big,” says Flux Power’s Kilgore. “There’s great momentum now that all of these industries are getting more and more involved.”

Added Navitas’ ElShafei: “We’re all investing heavily in this market space to be part of the incremental market share conversion from lead to lithium, and from IC to electric. Lithium offers the performance of propane with the benefits of electric – what customer doesn’t want that?”

*International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) https://www.iec.ch/ip-ratings


Feb 15

Columbia’s Expediter is the productivity specialist in our industrial lineup. Versatility is the bread and butter of this model, making it the favorite of many rental customers who serve a vast array of customer types. If you have a wide variety of indoor transportation needs, the Expediter is built for you! Let’s dive into the many areas the Expediter can serve your team for maximum productivity.

Transportation

The Expediter provides your team with efficient transportation and an increased range of work. With a speed of 8.5 MPH, the Expediter travels at about 3 times the speed of walking, so in large, indoor facilities, utilizing the Expediter to cover more area in less time is a no-brainer. Beyond speed, the Expediter also provides the range for your team to cover miles at a time with a fraction of the fatigue that walking would impose, making for a more productive workforce. With its standard fold-down seat, the Expediter quickly provides space for a second seat to move personnel comfortably and quickly. Facilities like convention centers, distribution warehouses, or hospitals can be daunting to traverse, but the Expediter provides abundant efficiency and range so you can keep your focus on work. 

Transport

 

Payload/Towing

While Columbia’s Payloader is the burden-carrying specialist in our lineup, the Expediter packs a punch with its compact profile, allowing you to haul equipment and even tow up to 1,000 pounds! While equipped to transport a second passenger, the Expediter’s back deck is also engineered to carry your team’s heavy equipment with a total payload capacity of 750lbs. In a perfect merging of attributes between the Payloader and Chariot, the Expediter provides rugged power in a smaller frame for tighter spaces and maximum versatility.

Payload & Towing

 

Custom Solutions

As with many of our vehicle models, we’re ready to curate the Expediter with your team’s specific needs. We want your Expediter fleet to be ready for work upon arrival, so we offer the option for a built-in, durable toolbox on the back deck, where you can store loose equipment safely. You can also equip the Expediter with an extended deck, different steering wheel designs, an enclosed cab, a safety light, large stand-up handrails, and much more! Additionally, our team is always ready to innovate custom solutions for your unique needs, and the Expediter is the perfect model for versatile features!

Custom Solutions

 

Are you ready to skyrocket your team’s productivity? Rely on the Expediter to serve in whatever areas of work challenge you. 


Feb 07

As a piece of essential warehouse equipment, forklifts are everywhere. There are currently around 1,000,000 forklifts helping businesses stay organized, and productive throughout the United States. They are one of the most powerful tools in improving efficiency. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Forklifts can be hazardous, and the cause of expensive citations, workplace accidents, injuries, and even death.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), forklift violations are consistently one of the top 10 violations costing businesses about $135,000,000 every year. OSHA also estimates that forklifts cause of approximately 110,000 accidents annually. Of these, about 35,000 resulted in serious injuries, and about 85 accidents resulted in death.

Any workplace that uses forklifts should emphasize forklift safety. Promoting forklift safety will prevent costly violations and accidents. Here are 5 ways to optimize forklift safety:

1. Make sure all employees are educated and properly trained and certified

Studies show that proper training and education is a great deterrent of accidents. Employers should develop and implement a training program based on the general principles of safe operation, the types of forklifts used in the workplace, the potential hazards in the workplace, and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard. According to OSHA, with these training policies, about 70% of forklift accidents could be prevented.

Additionally, operators must be properly certified per OSHA regulations. OSHA requires forklift operator to be certified in a two-phase training course: a classroom-style training and test, and a hands-on evaluation. Only trained and competent operators can be permitted to operate a forklift. You can find all the necessary information about training and certification here.

2. Understanding your forklift’s load capacity and the Stability Triangle

Many forklift accidents happen because the operators are not knowledgeable about how much their forklifts can carry. In fact, tip-overs due overloading is a leading cause of forklift accidents. So, understanding your forklift’s load capacity is extremely important.

A forklift’s load capacity is found in two places: on the data plate of the forklift, and in the operator’s manual. This capacity refers to a balanced load carried on the stated load center. It can change depending on the attachments used, the height of the lift, and the length of the load.

    • Forklift attachments are anything that is attached to the front carriage or attached to an attachment on the forklift. Generally, as you add attachments to the forklift, the load capacity decreases.
    • Lift height also affects load capacity. Forklifts with high masts will have lower capacity as the lift height increases.
    • The length of the load changes load capacity as well. The longer the length of the load is the lower the capacity.
 

With a load, the center of gravity of the forklift is at the center of the triangle. But as you add more weight to the forks or raise the mast with a load, the center of gravity shifts to the front of the triangle. Moving the center of gravity out of the Stability Triangle by adding too much weight or adding weight in the wrong places can cause tip-overs.

3. Perform daily inspections and regular maintenance

Maintaining your forklift is not just a great way to extend the life of your forklift, it is also one of the best ways to ensure forklift safety. Regular maintenance safeguards your forklifts against problems that go beyond the normal wear and tear. OSHA requires daily inspections to be performed at the beginning of each shift. If a forklift is equipped with a safety device, the device must be in good working order otherwise the forklift should be tagged out of service until it can be repaired. These daily inspections also help operators identify operational issues so they can be addressed before they become bigger problems or lead to accidents. By keeping your forklift in optimal working condition, you will have a safe operating experience.

4. Be aware of your work environment

A lack of awareness in the workplace can be detrimental not only to the products you are moving but also to your employees. Many accidents occur because the operator or someone in the forklift’s vicinity is not paying attention. Practice mindfulness by paying attention, keeping an eye on where you’re going, using your alarms to alert others of your presence, ensuring your loads are balanced and within load capacity, and driving safely. These five simple actions can prevent accidents and save lives.

5. Store your forklifts properly

Another way to promote forklift safety and prevent accidents is to store your forklifts properly after use. They should be parked on a flat surface. Engage your parking brakes. Make sure your forks are flush to the ground. The forklift should be turned off, and the keys should be removed from the ignition.


Feb 02

As environmental considerations and fluctuating oil prices continue to push consumers toward alternatives to traditional internal combustion engines, material handling operations increasingly look toward electric equipment solutions.

In operations that utilize forklifts, far more electric units are now sold than those powered by internal combustion engines. Electric forklifts now make up nearly 70 percent of all trucks sold, and with increasing demand for electric power comes a need to provide a solution that provides all of the benefits of traditional engines without a loss in productivity.

Lead acid batteries have been a capable but imperfect solution for years, and they continue to dominate the market today. It is estimated that lead acid batteries power 90 percent of electric forklifts in operation.

But a new player has emerged on the scene in recent years and is revolutionizing the way some companies do business. Lithium-ion battery (LiB) technology represents the next generation of forklift technology, and LiB market share in electric forklifts is expected grow significantly in the coming years.

But while LiB technology offers unique benefits, these batteries don’t make sense for every operation. You can use a new metric – Equivalent Battery Usage (EBU) – to help you decide if making the shift to LiB batteries is best for you.

EBU measures the number of cycles customers typically use their lead acid batteries per day. A common threshold for determining whether LiB makes sense for your operation is 1.6 times per day. If your operation’s EBU is above 1.6, LiB could be a potential fit for you. If it falls below 1.6, however, it probably makes more sense to continue using lead acid.

Typically, multi-shift applications are above the 1.6 EBU threshold – so any customer operating their equipment for more than one shift per day is a good candidate for considering LiB technology.

The reason LiB doesn’t make sense for every customer today is simple – the high upfront cost, and the high variability in return on investment. LiBs are more expensive than lead acid batteries, and they’re best used in high-throughput applications – such as distribution facilities, retail, and paper industries.


Jan 06

Your forklifts put in work day-in and day-out moving product and lifting and moving your business forward. The day will come when you lose time and money because the truck isn’t running as efficiently anymore. It may be difficult to pinpoint this time, but below are a few indicators that you may need a replacement forklift.

  1. WEAR AND TEAR OF A FORKLIFT

Has forklift maintenance become a case of continual troubleshooting and increasing costs to keep your forklift running? If prolonged heavy use of your forklift fleet needs regular repairs, it may be time to consider replacing the equipment. When paying for continual repairs, the effect on the bottom line goes far beyond the cost of replacing worn bushings or repairing the electrical components in a drive motor. You may need a replacement forklift if you have some of the following repair needs:

  • Hydraulic leaks
  • Clogged fluid lines
  • Worn chains
  • A mast that won’t lift
  • Battery problems
  • Unbalanced suspension
  • Steering difficulties
  1. LOSING TIME, LOSING MONEY

When you experience downtime for any unit in your forklift fleet, the cost is much more than parts and labor. You also need to factor in lost productivity and the costs of idle time for operators when their equipment is being repaired. When lost profits due to delays in product movement are taken into account, the total financial impact of an older forklift can easily extend into the thousands of dollars… per hour! Keeping spare lifts on hand is not an optimal solution due to the overall increase in operating costs. Neither are quick replacements. While lower in initial costs, they can create an endless cycle of unplanned repairs that negatively impacts your business. Retiring a forklift may be necessary if this is affecting your material handling operation.

  1. AVOIDING UNEXPECTED EVENTS

Poorly maintained equipment can lead to an accident or injury, which may be avoided through regular inspections and up-to-date regular maintenance. If your forklift is starting to show signs of wear and tear, it may be time to retire or replace your forklift.

If you want more information on forklift’s useful life, download our forklift management guide, “Is it Time to Upgrade Your Forklift?”


Dec 21

Columbia's Stockchaser is our lineup's most compact industrial vehicle. While it has some well-known uses, the Stockchaser offers surprising versatility. To help convey these many functions, let's dive into three specific jobs the Stockchaser excels in.

 

Compact Material Handling

The Stockchaser is best known for its maneuverability while maintaining the ability to carry your heaviest of loads. Whether you navigate a warehouse, distribution center, or any other tight space, the Stockchaser will make your job easy. Not only does the Stockchaser boast an impressive 66.5-inch turning radius, but curated options like a stepladder for reaching higher shelves will ensure that you’re equipped in every facet for maximum efficiency. 


 

Transporting Passengers

While Columbia’s Stockchaser is most commonly used in industrial spaces, it’s also the perfect vehicle for indoor guest transport. With the Stockchaser Transport package, you’re equipped with a comfortable, compact vehicle to serve up to six passengers. Our Stockchaser Transport is perfect for your hospital, airport, or any other sizable indoor space where your guests need to be given a pleasant, timely ride.



 

Versatile Towing

While we’ve gone through the Stockchaser’s most well-known uses, this Columbia model still boasts impressive capability in another function that is often overlooked or under-utilized: towing. The Stockchaser’s base model comes standard with a towing capacity of up to 1000 lbs, but this can be upgraded by 600% with the towing package! While Columbia offers other robust models that are built to handle the heaviest of loads, the Stockchaser is the perfect compact vehicle for towing through tight aisles or in any other limited space!


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