Design Challenge - Advanced Lift-truck Technology International 2013

Panik Ebner Design - Dynamic disintegrated layout

Electromagnetic Suspension

Pinto is a simple concept focused on improving forklift safety by making optimum use of the reduced volume of the latest energy storage technologies – in this case, Li-ion batteries, which can offer better performance than lead-acid batteries. Pinto demonstrates the advantage of a dynamic 'disintegrated layout'.

To avoid operational hazards, the main issues for a forklift operator concern two key elements – stabilising the truck’s balance during periods of unwieldy weight distribution and offering clear visibility while driving and operating. Pinto concentrates on these issues by separating the forklift’s functional groups into four distinct yet connected units: the mast and front axle unit; the cab and driver’s seat unit; the energy storage and rear axle unit; and the counterweight unit, which slides out steplessly and telescopically. As the load handling demand changes, these units shift position, thereby optimising the truck configuration.

Manoeuvring and shunting prior to loading is enhanced by a raised cab (for better visibility) and a compact axle distance. Handling loads and maintaining good balance is made easier by increasing the axle distance, lowering the centre of gravity and actively extending the counterweight. Driving with a load also becomes safer with a raised cab (for better visibility) and an extended counterweight.

The change of configuration is adjusted either manually or automatically via sensor control – or by a combination of both. Additional features to enhance truck safety could include:

• A seat that rotates for reversing manoeuvres. This would require development of an integrated driver seat system with all forklift operation controls connected and integrated to the seat system;

• Wheel hub electrical motors would enable the front wheels to be moved forward for enhanced leverage;

• A head-up display would keep the driver focused on the details of the loading scenario.


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Panik Ebner Design is an independent design consultancy based in Stuttgart, Germany. Andreas Panik and Christian Ebner have worked in product, railway and vehicle design for over 15 years





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