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Electric forklift truck, a creative impetus for electric mobility

Electric forklift truck, a creative impetus for electric mobility

June 22, 2021 8:41 pm

Ever since, the intralogistics specialist continued to come up with ideas; it left its mark on electric mobility and modern energy management.

The Hanover industrial trade fair held in March 1971 was the beginning of a 50-year success story: Linde Material Handling (Linde MH) presented its first electric forklift truck there. The European market leader in electric counterbalance trucks utilises its expertise to electrify vehicles of all kinds – from hackney carriages to trolley cars.

The year 1971 saw the opening of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Germany, the inauguration of the Aswan Dam, and the delivery of the first e-mail. Not only has the “at” sign been widely used ever since, but so have Linde MH’s electric forklift trucks. In developing its first electrically powered forklift, the Aschaffenburg, Germany-based company aimed to offer a vehicle for operation indoors, as the number of warehouses and distribution centres kept growing and with it the need for emission-free equipment. Industry and trade were enthusiastic about this development: The vehicle enabled turning manoeuvres with the smallest possible radius, high load capacity and emission-free operation. Further, customer requirements for the low-noise and emission-free indoor equipment were not long in coming: even higher load capacity, greater handling capability and other variants for new areas of application. Linde MH delivered – and in doing so, opened a new chapter in the company’s history with its electric truck: A milestone for the mobility of the future had been reached.

In the early 1970s, the enormous potential of electric mobility was not yet foreseeable. But the rapid progress in power electronics and digital technology provided more and more tailwind. Linde MH was able to meet the increasing demands being made on the performance, reliability and efficiency of electric forklifts by introducing further developments in drive and control technology. By continually implementing technical improvements and using assistance systems, the Aschaffenburg-based design engineers made the electric forklift truck a safe and cost-effective vehicle for in-house goods handling. The Linde Safety Pilot, for example, acts as an “intelligent passenger”, ensuring that the truck’s permissible load capacity and lifting height are not exceeded and that it does not tip forward – thanks to the built-in sensor system, this ensures the greatest possible level of safety for everyday operations with varying loads. Offering further developments in line with operator needs, Linde MH ultimately advanced to become the European market leader in electric counterbalance trucks.

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Towards the modern age with Linde energy systems

Decades before electric mobility made its way into the automotive world, intralogistics was already relying on electric drive solutions because they offer advantages over conventional technology; for example, Linde electric forklifts achieve around 30 percent higher energy yields compared to internal combustion engine drives. Starting in 2010, Linde MH also made its decades of expertise in electric traction drives available to other companies, which, based on Linde e-Motion, are now operating their passenger cars, municipal and commercial vehicles, shunting trolleys, freight loaders and even wheelchairs with electricity.

While electric cars are only slowly gaining acceptance, battery-powered forklift trucks are already largely prevalent in intralogistics, with the trend continuing to rise. Particular attention is being paid to the power storage unit at the core of the system: The lithiumion battery is being used more and more frequently in industrial trucks, replacing the lead-acid battery. In the future, another technology could gain in importance: fuel cell technology, which generates electricity, heat and water vapor from hydrogen and oxygen. If the widespread generation of electricity or hydrogen from renewable resources is successful, electric forklifts could play an important role in achieving set climate targets in the future. With the launch of a new generation of electric forklifts in June, Linde MH is aiming to achieve another goal half a century after the first vehicle was introduced: performance that is equal to combustion engine counterbalance forklift trucks with diesel, LPG or natural gas engines.

Press contact: Heike Oder: +49 (0)6021 99-1277 – Email: heike.oder@ linde-mh.de

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