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Alert to the danger of lift truck overloading

16 March 2018

Increased safety awareness has prompted a huge uptake in hydraulic overload check devices for Abbey Attachments, exclusive UK supplier for Ravas products. HSS editor Simon Duddy hears more from Paul Saunders and Nicky Whittle from Abbey.

After suffering a serious incident, a UK based company with nationwide depots, contacted Abbey Attachments to fit a Ravas SafeCheck hydraulic overload system to every forklift in it’s fleet.

Paul Saunders MD at Abbey Attachments explains: “The idea is that the driver and management can be alerted before a forklift reaches the point of overload and risks tipping over. The key thing is to warn people before a dangerous situation arises.”

The alarm is a key aspect of the device, as best practice dictates it is safer to warn an operator, rather than automatically stopping the potentially unsafe operation. This can seem counter-intuitive, but Nicky Whittle, area sales manager at Abbey Attachments, and previously UK sales manager for Ravas, explains further.

“We’ve had questions ‘can you stop the truck when the alarm goes off? It’s best not to do that, as we don’t know in advance if the truck will be in a safe position, you might be removing an opportunity for the driver to rectify the situation. Not everyone is keen on lockout devices – there is a concern that drivers could start to rely on the device. Most companies prefer to use the alarm as a driver aid.”

In 2016, Abbey sold more than 1,000 such units. Based in Bury, just north of Manchester, Abbey is retrofitting the technology to a wide range of lift trucks, from counterbalance, to articulated models, to sideloaders. Established in 1984, Abbey is acknowledged as the leading independent supplier of rental and reconditioned forklift attachments alongside a wide range of ancillary products.


Working together, Abbey Attachments and Ravas NL have developed a more advanced overload prevention system – SafeLoad.

The system uses several different sensors within the lift truck to determine the weight, but also, critically, the load centre. Users can set safe working parameters for the truck, and anything that exceeds those limits activates an alarm.

“This more advanced system is especially useful if a company is picking up loads with varying size and weight characteristics. SafeLoad will give the driver more information about the load he is lifting,” explains Paul.

Abbey has had customers raise the question ‘what happens if we continually get an overload alarm’?

Paul continues: “In the interests of health & safety you should look at different handling techniques, changes to load configuration and in some cases a larger lift truck could be the only solution.”

The system can also assist with driver development, as an option it can log when a truck is in overload, and how long it has been overloaded for. 

“By looking at the data,” explains Nicky. “Managers can recognise if somebody is not reacting fast enough, or even choosing to ignore an alarm. This is particularly helpful in situations where drivers disregard overload warning. You’ll be able to say “why didn't you put the load down immediately and why didn't you react?’”

New structure

For eight years, Abbey and Ravas UK worked closely together, and from this year they have taken that a stage further, with Nicky joining Abbey Attachments as area sales manager for the South. She has responsibility for the Ravas product range in the region, as well as Abbey’s existing product offering of Orlaco Camera systems and Kooi Reachforks.

Nicky says: “I started as Ravas UK in 2007 and developed a partnership with Abbey over many years. It worked brilliantly but I was doing too much after-sales and admin, which wasn’t the best use of my time as a salesperson. At the same time, Abbey was considering a salesperson in the south of England to increase their coverage of the UK, so it worked.”

Abbey has always been a one stop shop for Ravas - not just selling the product but installing it, calibrating and servicing.

Paul says: “I’m delighted that we’re now offering the full Ravas range. Along with our other products and services we’re committed to building long lasting relationships and providing reliable support across the lift truck industry.”