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 height.

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 computers

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.

Vibration/shock 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 terminals

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 impact.

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.


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