A forklift with Linde Steer Control is operated with the left hand, which rests easily on the armrest inside the driver's cab. The mini-wheel or joystick is an expression of a technologically advanced interface between operator and machine, where the driver can stay focused and productive for longer. By focusing on the operator, Linde has succeeded in developing a sophisticated and ground-breaking steering concept.
The aim of Linde Steer Control is to be able to handle the forklift easily, quickly and hassle-free. The right hand controls the mast and forks, while the left hand steers the truck around corners and in all directions. This relieves the operator of all the thousands of small movements that are inseparable from every forklift drive over the course of a working day.
"Linde Steer Control should be seen in relation to the complete operating concept, where the truck's double pedals and Linde Load Control work closely together. By minimising reliance on the chassis and ensuring an ergonomically correct operating position, the operator comfort has been noticeably improved along with the overall driving experience," says country manager – Linde, Jesper Bech from N.C. Nielsen.
Linde Steer Control builds upon steer-by-wire technology. The operator's commands are converted into electric signals that are forwarded to hydraulic actuators, which ensure a smooth running of the forklift's operating system. The electric operation of the wheels makes it possible to drive more precisely, as the steering reacts more or less sensitively depending on the truck's travel speed.
"For many of us, a steering wheel is a natural part of operating a vehicle. Linde Steer Control breaks with this tradition, as the truck is steered with either a mini-wheel or a joystick attached to the armrest. This definitely takes some getting used to, but on the other hand it has a beneficial effect on ergonomics and user-friendliness for the operator," says Jesper Bech at N.C. Nielsen.
For daily forklift use with regular transportation from A to B, manoeuvring or warehousing, using Linde Steer Control with a mini-wheel is recommended. For daily forklift use with many different handling tasks and stacking of narrow aisles, using Linde Steer Control with a joystick is recommended. This is more similar to the conventional steering wheel, where the truck automatically straightens out when the operator releases the control.
Linde Steer Control has been developed in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University in Germany, where experienced forklift operators tested the concept on a daily basis over a number of weeks. The use of the mini-wheel and joystick resulted in up to 25% less shoulder strain, up to 45% less elbow strain and fewer strained wrists than using a conventional steering wheel, illustrating a clear improvement in ergonomics with Linde Steer Control.