John Bandringa, Intermec's director of corporate design, demonstrates the company's futuristic "Forklift of the Future," which utilizes radio frequency identification technology and mobile computers.
..."They're not just talking to us or interested in it because it looks neat, but because they see the competitive advantage," said John Bandringa, Intermec's director of corporate design and team leader on the forklift project.
"I've done other projects, but this is the most exciting," Bandringa
said.While inventory and data collection technology is becoming well established in many warehouses, it's usually added on to forklifts as an afterthought.The Forklift of the Future design team's goal was to integrate the technology in ways that customers wanted.To do that, Intermec sent its designers out of the office, Bandringa said.
"It's really important to listen to the voice of the customer.We didn't just listen to the warehouse manager, we listened to the information technology manager, the forklift driver ... all of whom had different perspectives," he
After extensively surveying customers, Bandringa's
team created hundreds of concepts, designs and foam models.In addition to figuring out what data collection devices to add to the forklift, the team focused on making all the technology as durable as possible.
"Anything that you put on the forklift has to be at least equal to or more durable than the forklift itself," he
team put much thought, for example, into cable managers - coverings to both organize and protect the crucial wires connecting the forklift's on-board computer, control grip and radio frequency-identification equipment.It turns out cables are prone to wear out fast in the not-so-delicate warehouse environment.The computer itself, an Intermec CV-60, is covered in magnesium.
The placement of the onboard Intermec computer in the steering column also came after considerable thought, Bandringa
doesn't deny the feature-filled forklift was a fun diversion from more everyday design tasks.
"Personally, this is the most integrated and complex system I've worked on ... but this is also the most exciting," he