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Toyota bares new lift truck’s safety, ergonomic features

By Mari-Len De Guzman

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A, Inc. (TMHU) marked its 20th anniversary with the unveiling of its new 8-Series lift truck, a four-wheel electrical truck with enhanced safety features to help reduce the likelihood of an overturn or tip-over, a leading cause of lift-truck injuries and fatalities.

Featuring Toyota’s System of Active Stability (SAS) technology, the new 8-Series lift truck uses sensors that sense potential instability of the lift truck and feeds information into an electronic controller, which in turn determines what actions are required to make the truck more stable, explained Martin Boyd, vice-president of product planning and marketing at TMHU.

Toyota has been integrating its SAS system into all of its lift truck products since the technology was introduced in 1999, Boyd said, describing this proprietary safety technology as “arguably the world’s most innovative lift truck safety enhancement system available on the market today.”

The SAS system uses four sensors — height, load, speed and yaw rate sensors — that helps the lift truck prevent potential instability that often results in forward or lateral tip-over.

To prevent potential forward tip-over, the SAS uses a forward tilt angle control that senses the load’s weight and mast height, and automatically overrides the operator’s manual control to limit the forward tilt. This decreases the chance of spilling a load or the lift truck tipping forward.

When potential lateral instability is detected, on the other hand, the SAS instantly engages the swing lock cylinder to stabilize the rear axle, creating lateral stability and preventing the risk of a side tip-over.

“Lateral or side tip-overs are extremely dangerous and unfortunately occur mostly from improper or reckless use of a lift truck,” Boyd said. 

The Toyota exec, however, emphasized the need for operator safety training as the most important aspect of reducing lift truck injuries. He noted that no product safety feature can ever replace a good safety training program.

“Whenever the industrial side of Toyota discusses the subject of safety the very first thing we discuss really has nothing to do with the product itself. The first discussion in the subject of safety will always be, for us, training, training, training,” Boyd said.

The new 8-Series lift truck also offers new and improved ergonomic features that enhance operator comfort and help reduce incidents of musculoskeletal disorders among lift truck operators.

Some of these features include a standard ultra-comfort vinyl full suspension seat with four-way adjustability and increased forward/backward seat adjustment, anti-cinch seat belts. The new lift-truck also includes mini-lever and joystick hydraulic controls with Ergo-Shift, featuring three-way adjustable armrest to enhance operator comfort and increase productivity, Toyota said.

TMHU president Brett Wood calls the new 8-Series “the most powerful AC electric” Toyota has ever built, with new AC drive and hydraulic systems and improved travel speeds up to 21 per cent.

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