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A vision of a better worksite

17 March 2017

No matter how expensive the truck or how clever its gadgets, it can only ever be as safe as its operator. Here, Stewart Gosling of Red Diamond Distribution, UK importers for Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks, explains why it’s so important to maximise your drivers’ visibility.

A number of things can make a truck safer: ergonomic controls, extra warning light, sway control…But none of these have as great an impact on safe operations as visibility. 

Indeed, a pan-European study showed that for 62% of businesses, operator visibility was the number one priority when purchasing a new truck. Visibility was the most critical operational factor ahead of reliability. Ahead of stability. Ahead of operating costs.

And for one simple reason: poor visibility comes at a heavy cost. 

Unparalleled vision

Forklift users rely on visibility to gather approximately around 90% of their information during operations and studies show it’s a factor in 80% of accidents involving fork lifts. 

That’s why a clear, wide-open view is essential – especially when it comes to the two areas of a truck that most significantly impact a driver’s visibility: the overhead guard and the design of the mast. 

Mast design

Getting these two right is so critical… but cannot be at the cost of compromising aspects of design and manufacture that could impact safety. For example, a truck might have narrower mast channels for a less obstructed view, but these still need to be as strong and sturdy as those on a traditional mast.

As part of the R&D process involved in its reach trucks and order pickers, Mitsubishi found the solution. The result? The manufacturer’s revolutionary Visionmast delivers unrivalled forward vision when the truck is travelling with fork trailing…  

Importantly, because it utilises hot extrusion technology, the mast’s hydraulic cylinders are contained within the profile of the mast’s first stage. This does more than offer a clearer view… it means that the mast has extra stiffness, less sway, as well as higher residual capacity — 40% greater than a standard mast design.

Overhead guard design

According to a 20-year study, more than 40% of deaths in fork lift truck accidents are the result of falling loads.  

Traditionally, overhead guard designs on forklifts feature a set of bars or a cage-type system. While this is effective at stopping larger objects, it can let through smaller items such as nuts and bolts. Bearing in mind the heights at which some reach trucks work, even a tiny item falling from fork height can prove fatal.  

Bars can also reduce upwards visibility. With reach trucks extending as high as 16 metres, seeing clearly above is crucial for the operator – as that’s where your focus should be. 

In order to achieve the ultimate in upwards visibility, Mitsubishi pioneered the award-winning clear-view Flexiglass overhead guard. Utilising technology found in many high-performance jet aircraft, as well as the “Popemobile”, the guard is constructed from a tough polycarbonate that’s 250 times stronger than glass and 30 times stronger than acrylic glass. And unlike acrylic, Flexiglass doesn’t cloud with age – ensuring clear views.

Driven to distraction?

Of course, having the best visibility in the world can only do so much if the driver cannot focus on the task at hand. SENSiA’s ergonomically-designed cabin goes a long way to enabling operators to maintain focus throughout shifts. 

For example, intuitive fingertip controls put everything within the driver’s easy reach, eliminating the need for excessive movement or any reason to look around the cab. 

A recent study of operators in Europe, Russia and the Middle East revealed that up to 77% of forklift trucks are always or very frequently driven in reverse. While this can address some visibility issues, it’s associated with musculoskeletal issues in the upper body… Swivel seats are available, therefore, designed to allow operators the freedom to turn and travel in a more comfortable and natural position – relieving a lot of stress on the body. 

When it comes down to it, your drivers need the best chance to see everything they need to for safe and productive operations… Look out for them so they can look out for everything else. 

To find out more about SENSiA and how it can change your operations, visit www.mitforklift.com or call the Mitsubishi Greenline today on 0845 371 3048.