Electrification in the car industry is increasing in volume and lowering in cost. This trend is pushing technology developments as well in the logistics industry, more specifically for lithium-ion–powered forklifts. The move from lead-acid to lithium-ion technology has already been picking up the past few years within the European market. Here the general approach is to simply replace the lead–acid batteries with lithium–ion, using the same battery compartment.
With Toyota Material Handling’s goal to stay ahead in this area, we applied an agile approach to adapt to the new developments continuously happening in this technology: new chemistries and new software intelligence.
Presenting the RED design concept
Toyota Material Handling started its RED project to set out a vision for the future of truck design. RED stands for Radical Energy Design, which is at the heart of the new design concept. Revolutionising forklift design is possible by building lithium-ion battery solutions with modules, which are assembled in-house at Toyota Material Handling.
The concept behind the RED-project is to eliminate the battery compartment completely and find alternative locations for the individual energy modules. This gives us the freedom to completely redesign the truck.
Toyota’s RED-project is focused on developing an entire fleet based on the same design concept of electric trucks. The battery cells are distributed throughout the design of the truck, which reduces the overall size without compromising power or performance.
Lithium-Ion allowing for new design
In a perfect example of Toyota Material Handling’s core philosophy of continuous improvement (kaizen),
The entire layout of the truck has been optimised by removing the traditional battery compartment to facilitate an optimal fit for all components. This first example of this modularised concept introduces a new generation of low-lifter warehouse trucks, marking the start of a new design concept.
The advantage of locating the modules where space is available, is that we can make the truck smaller in size, lighter, and more energy-efficient.
The reduction in size improves driveability as well as flexibility: smaller trucks are able to work in a wide range of common applications. The centre of gravity can also be moved to enhance performance and ensure the best stability and traction.
By making a machine more compact, smaller and lighter without compromising on performance, the energy efficiency can be taken to the next level. The modularised Li-Ion battery solution offers easy and fast opportunity charging.
The renewed design is also ideal for working in confined spaces. A compact machine size offers easy manoeuvring and is perfect to use on-board delivery vehicles. By placing the tiller arm centrally, the driver has unrestricted visibility, making the truck user-friendly, safe and intuitive.
Toyota’s RED project vision goes beyond delivering one new revolutionary truck design. The focus is on standardisation of the entire product range.
The end goal is to offer all models designed under the RED project with optimised capacities, a more compact design, fitted with a standardised energy package (that can easily be upgraded to suit your needs).