For all the advances in lift truck technology and fleet management, operators will always be the heart and soul of a fleet. As manufacturers and equipment purchasers place more value on that piece, the role of the operator extends from design to daily use.
There’s an area outside Indianapolis where every building has ‘now hiring’ signs,” says Trinton Castetter, internal combustion product planning specialist for Toyota Material Handling U.S.A. “When we talk to customers in that area, everything is about the operator. It’s not enough to pay another 50 cents an hour, because you can always be beaten. That operator needs to be so happy where they are that they don’t even look elsewhere.”
Operator safety has always been central to forklift design, even if driver comfort only became a focus relatively recently. Operator feedback is also a standard part of equipment development and design, although cost and practicality are also part of the equation. However, in the pursuit of every sliver of productivity, it is essential to keep operators comfortable and efficient throughout an eight-hour shift. As a result, their perspectives have lately gained tremendous weight.