How could it be even easier to steer a truck? Linde Material Handling showed the Linde Steer Control system at its customer event, World of Material Handling (WoMH). Behind the name is a new electro-hydraulic steering system that doesn't need a traditional steering wheel. Instead, there is an armrest for the driver's arm to rest on. The truck is controlled with your left hand, either by a mini steering wheel or a joystick that is built into the truck. Because of these extra options, work in the truck is less stressful, and the driver can stay focused and get more done for a longer time. Looking ahead, this means that the automated counterweight tractor has met another essential need.
The driver's workplace, the truck, is essential because it links the driver and the machine. For the truck to work as well as it can, the driver must be able to use it efficiently, quickly, and without much trouble. "With the Linde Steer Control system, we've kept improving the Linde truck's advanced way of operating, which includes double pedals and Linde Load Control. Now, the driver can put both of their arms on the armrests. The right-hand controls the stand and forks, and the left-hand turns the truck around corners. Magnus Svensson, a product specialist for counterbalance forklifts, says, "This way, we can further reduce body movements and take the load off the driver." He adds, "What has already been proven in excavators, cranes, rail vehicles, and airplanes could be found increasingly in industrial trucks in the future and become the industry standard."
The Linde Steer Control system uses a technology called "steer-by-wire." The driver gives instructions for steering that are turned into electrical signals and sent to hydraulic actuators. A sophisticated safety concept ensures that the vehicle's control system will always work. Electric steering of the wheels makes it possible to do new things: For example, the Linde Steer Control system helps the truck driver steer the vehicle even more precisely because the steering responds more or less sensitively depending on how fast the vehicle is going. The mini wheel must be turned more, or the joystick must be tilted to the side more. The same hand movement strengthens the steering response when the driver slows down the truck.
Linde recommends the mini wheel for everyday truck uses like moving along a line, turning it, or loading and unloading. "Because it looks like a steering wheel, people learn it faster," says Magnus Svensson. The joystick also has a unique feature that can be helpful in some situations: when the driver lets go of the control, the wheels automatically straighten themselves. Magnus Svensson says, "This is very helpful, especially in warehouses with long, narrow aisles where things like drink boxes and paper rolls are stacked up on the sides."
This spring, Linde Material Handling did a user study with RWTH Aachen University and fka GmbH to find out how well Linde Steer Control works in terms of ergonomics. The focus was on how much the new steering ideas make the driver's arms and shoulders easier by making them move less. At the time of the study, the people who took the test were between the ages of 19 and 67.
They had been licensed to drive forklifts for at least three years and used them daily as part of their jobs. Researchers used a special camera to record how far the shoulder, elbow, and wrist could move. When you use a mini steering wheel and a joystick, your shoulder and elbow joints move less than when you use a regular steering wheel. "This proves that the Linde Steer Control system makes the driver's job easier and more comfortable," says Svensson, a product specialist.