Leading French materials handling publication, Manutech, has recently put Yale’s four wheel VF electric counterbalance forklift through an uncompromising series of tests and reports impressive results including exceptional maneuverability, outstanding operator convenience and ergonomics.
Yale’s new VF electric forklift truck “highlights the undisputed advances that NACCO Materials Handling Group has made in its new generation of electric trucks,” reported Mr. Patrick Harribey and Mr. Jean-Louis Rabeux in the January/February 2010 issue of the French publication after their examination of the 1,800kg capacity model.
The launch of the next generation of 1.5 – 2.0 tonne 3 wheel (VT) and 4 wheel (VF) electric forklift trucks in 2008 marked a new chapter in the long tradition of Yale manufacturing electric counterbalance trucks for world markets. Announcing the Manutech test report, Steve Ridgway, Yale Brand Manager, said: “Yale understands that ergonomics and productivity are inexorably linked and the VF series marks an unprecedented step forward in ergonomic design and operating performance for four wheel electric counterbalance trucks, key features that were reinforced by the independent Manutech professional test team.”
According to the professional test team, central to the success of the Yale VF is its operator module. The Yale VF Series offers best in class access and an adjustable seating position that comfortably accommodates over 95 per cent of operators worldwide, representing a height range from 160cm to 194cm. Mr. Harribey commented that “the ergonomic tilt of the armrest built into the seat that combines comfort with convenience” whilst “the headroom between the seat and the overhead guard makes for comfortable driving when wearing a hard hat.”
The 1,800kg capacity VF model tested was fitted with Yale’s AccuTouch mini lever module which features cushioned arm and palm rest with fingertip control of levers which is a significant contributor in reducing repetitive strain injuries (RSI). The Manutech test team reported that “the levers were big enough to be operated with handling gloves on. They are smooth, extremely precise and simultaneously maneuverable single handed.”
Particular praise was also given to the new Yale full suspension seat, in particular its ability to absorb vibrations and shaking caused by driving over uneven ground, reducing operator fatigue and increasing the length of time an operator can work at optimum productivity. A weight adjustment thumbwheel function allows the seat to be easily customised to the operator’s specific requirements.
During the test programme, manoeuvrability was keenly tested over a slalom course. Manutech reported the turning circle on the VF model to be “outstanding” with smooth manoeuvring at all times. The armrest and rear-driving position were particularly praised for offering good support during manoeuvring, reducing tiredness and the onset of muscular problems.
The test team also described “excellent visibility from the new ‘Clearview’ mast enabling the operator to pick up or put down pallets high up on shelving in total safety.” They commented: “Another very good feature is the electro-magnetic automatic park brake that is spontaneously applied whenever the truck comes to a standstill.” The test team correctly identified that the brake is always applied when the truck is stationary making it easier to mount and dismount the truck. Mr. Harribey affirmed that “the automatic parking brake ensures the hydraulically-controlled lifting operations are carried out in total safety”.
On the subject of truck performance, Manutech were keen to comment that their VF model allowed the supervisor to select between two performance operating modes depending on the application required. The 'eLo' (Energy Saving) setting offers the lowest possible energy consumption in each class (2.02Ah per VDI 2198 test cycle) whilst the 'HiP' (High Productivity) setting can be selected for a heavy duty performance cycle or where high productivity is of paramount importance. Within the 'eLo' and 'HiP' settings are four additional operator performance modes for maximum operational flexibility.
Responding to the Manutech verdict, Steve Ridgway concluded: “We are delighted by the Manutech test results. Mr. Rabeux and his team have provided us with an excellent, independent and experienced endorsement of the new VF series confirming that Yale continues to lead the market with a range of products that have the best overall energy efficiency, productivity and lowest lifetime cost of ownership for applications where electric forklift trucks are demanded.”