Toyota Material Handling has launched a new range of forklift trucks, with increased safety and ergonomics, reduced operating costs and greater environmental friendliness.
Toyota’s new range of 8-series 1-3.5 tonne internal combustion counterbalance forklifts represents the result of eight years worth of intense customer research and a multi-million dollar investment in R & D.
Replacing Toyota’s highly successful 7-series forklift range in the same capacities, Toyota’s 8-series range will initially include 23 pneumatic-tyre internal-combustion models from one to three tonnes payload, including petrol/ LPG and diesel models, with the choice of manual and Powershift transmission, and compact models.
Toyota’s objective in the production of its new 8-series forklift were to further build on its success in the materials handling industry, and focus specifically on four key areas: forklift safety, superior ergonomics, reduced life cycle costs, and a focus on the environment.
Other major objectives of Toyota’s new 8-series forklift range include increased quality, durability and reliability, with 420 quality improvements made from the previous 7-series model.
According to Toyota Material Handling, development of the 8-series began with initially identifying any past quality issues and then solving those issues.
The results led Toyota to conclude that the method for satisfying customer needs was to investigate the essence of what makes a good forklift by basing its design on the 7-series and by further infusing Toyota’s strengths into that design.
According to Toyota Industrial Equipment, within Australia, the 8-series design and development team interviewed some 4500 customers worldwide to obtain feedback on the current industry-leading 7-series range. Teams of engineers came to Australia on several occasions to meet with local customers, operators, and dealers.
The advancements in the 8-series reflect Toyota’s kaisen philosophy of continual improvement and the fact that Toyota has by far a large research and development budget in the materials handling industry.
The engineers’ charter for this new range was to raise QDR (quality, durability and reliability) levels from their already high benchmark, a bold aim given the 7-series’ proven record for QDR.
Outstanding product quality is the key to Toyota’s success not just in forklifts, but across its entire product range, Toyota has one of the world’s strict quality control standards.
The Toyota 8-series improvements over the superseded version begin with its increased ease of use. The 8-series has a smaller steering wheel, lower step height, increased seat fore/aft travel, increased head clearance, increased ease of entry and exit, reduced noise levels at the operator’s ears and reduced vibration.
Toyota has paid special attention to increasing the operator’s range of visibility, by redesigning the instrument panel, steering wheel, mast, load backrest beam, mast tilt beam and cabin roof. Seat slide adjustment range has been increased by 30mm to 150mm.
In addition, Toyota is offering a range of options to increase ease of operation. Machines that spend a high proportion of time running in reverse can be specified with a swivel operator’s seat, and a hand grip with integral horn button on the rear right hand side post of the overhead guard.
Toyota is also offering the option of cowling mounted levers, mini levers, or joystick load handling levers. There are QDR improvements throughout the new 8-series machines.
Toyota has thought of the little things as well as the big ticket items. For example, the 8-series machines have improved cooling performance for the engine and hydraulic oil, water-proof connectors for the electric wiring harness, and a protective box to house the machine electronic control unit and relays.
These machines also have fewer cosmetic parts, seamless side frames and increased corrosion protection. Serviceability has been improved by fitting a two-piece floorboard for greater ease of daily inspections, increasing the engine-hood opening angle and redesigning the hood damper, headlights and distributor.
The new LCD-type instrument panel includes an engine coolant temperature gauge. The petrol, LPG and diesel engines, and the clutch on manual-transmission models, have a range of new features aimed at improving serviceability and reliability, as well as reducing noise and emissions.
Mast durability, strength and visibility have all been improved, through careful attention to the material strength, welding methods, positioning of the cross members and gussets, and the mounting to the front axle.
Safety features of the Toyota 8-series range include Toyota’s System of Active Stability (SAS) and Operator Presence Sensing (OPS) as standard equipment. SAS was a world-first innovation, when it was launched with the 7-series forklifts in 1998, and one of the main reasons, why Toyota has sold over 20,000 7-Series in Australia since it was launched.
The concepts used for SAS are similar to Vehicle Stability Control used in automotive products. It assists the operator in maintaining the forklift within its stable range, and may assist in preventing forklift tip-over accidents and split loads.
With the 8-series, Toyota has taken the SAS concepts a step further and introduced optional features such as travel and load handling control with the SAS. Toyota also has OPS on its 8-series forklifts, designed to prevent accidental movement of the forklift when the operator is not seated at the controls. This is an important feature from Toyota that provides an even greater level of safety for the forklift operator and also for those in the vicinity.
In addition to these important safety features, Toyota is offering optional extensions, so customers can tailor machines to the application and worksite. The options include load and height-sensing, to determine how quickly the machine can accelerate and restrict hydraulic lift speed to ensure stability. Customers can also specify a factory fitted machine-speed controller.