19 December 2019
No warehouse team
would be without their forklifts. They make light work of lifting, transporting
and loading pallet loads and other heavy items, quickly, smoothly and even at
A forklift is a
serious piece of heavy machinery though, and safe operation requires both hands
and full concentration. Yet, forklift operators still need digital backup while
carrying out their tasks and cannot waste time stepping away from the forklift
to consult a computer every few minutes. What’s needed is a mobile device built
to work in harmony with the forklift – a rugged forklift mounted computer.
We’ve taken a closer
look at these tough and versatile devices.
Features of forklift mounted
Regardless of the type
of forklift a rugged mobile device is used with – counterbalance, reach truck, VNA or telescopic, for example - a forklift mounted computer needs certain
features to function reliably.
resistance – It may not be
visible or even detectable in a computer’s performance straight away, but the
vibration of a working forklift can wear down the internal components of a
standard mobile device over time. To be suitable for use as a forklift mounted
computer, a rugged device should have military standard shock resistance, as
indicated by the specification MIL-STD. For example, the Honeywell Thor VM3 has a MIL-STD-810G rating.
Power conversion – For optimum operational duration, forklift
mounted computers run off the power supply of the forklift itself, so they
should have a DC-to-DC power converter.
Touchscreen and voice control – Forklift mounted
computers should be as non-intrusive and easy to use as possible, while also
being in control of the forklift at the same time. Therefore, a touchscreen
sensitive enough to respond even through gloves and voice control functionality
are both essential features. Many forklift mounted computers automatically
‘blank out’ while the machine is in motion as an extra safety measure.
Compatibility – Warehouse operators use and rely on a range of
other applications and communication networks during their shifts, such as rugged barcode scanners and RFID scanners, and wireless and/or
Bluetooth connectivity. Depending on what’s needed, a forklift mounted computer
will require certain ports and software configurations.
Operating environments for forklift
A rugged forklift
mounted computer must be able to withstand a variety of working environments,
even within a single warehouse.
For example, cold and frozen storage areas can be kept at temperatures between -18 and
-30°C, so a
forklift mounted computer must have a defrosting screen capable of withstanding
these extreme lows without fogging or condensation.
Other areas may be
potentially explosive, and require rugged devices specifically designed to
minimise the risks of working in such an environment. The law states that only ATEX certified forklift mounted computers can be used in
potentially explosive settings, having been fully and independently tested by
an official ATEX certification body.
Ruggedisation of forklift computers
By definition, a
rugged device is built to be hard-wearing, but what makes a rugged mobile
computer fit for use on a forklift? Outer shells absorb shocks and vibrations
(to MIL-STD rating, ideally), as well as drops from height, while extra strong
internal components are surrounded by buffering space to prevent damage through
Despite this though, rugged
forklift mounted computers aren’t bulky or cumbersome, but protected by
lightweight, yet super tough plastic alloy. A truly rugged device is designed
for ruggedness from the inside out, rather than wrapped in protective casings
that add weight and bulk.
Talk to us today about rugged devices
for your forklifts
Don’t let static or
non-rugged mobile devices slow your forklift operators down; empower them with
forklift mounted computers that can keep up with them. At Touchstar, we can
work with you to help you identify the right rugged forklift mounted computers for your warehouse, so get in touch with us to get started.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH
Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001. Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.
In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.