Due to their high flexibility, forklifts are often used for transporting loads in intralogistics. The load is currently handled with a large number of different manufacturer-specific control concepts. These controls cannot be used intuitively, especially by inexperienced or changing drivers. This is because the desired movement of the lifting frame does not correspond to the necessary manipulation of the control. For this reason, it is necessary to develop a new intuitive mast control system for forklifts, which both reduces the learning time and enables error-free operation.
The focus of the project "Development of an intuitive forklift control system with haptic feedback" is the conception of a new type of control system. This concept should help to reduce the training time of new employees and the occurrence of user errors. To enable intuitive operation, the new control system should be able to provide the user with haptic feedback. Additional information is provided to the driver, for example, by increasing resistance when the joysticks are operated. This should enable the forklift to be operated without further information. In addition to haptic feedback control, the sensors and software should also be able to collect data for a driver assistance system and a predictive maintenance system. With the help of the driver assistance system, pre-defined lifting heights can be easily approached. The predictive maintenance system should detect wear or component failures at an early stage.
The development of an intuitive control concept begins with a comprehensive analysis of the forklift functions. Based on this a control concept will be developed and a function demonstrator implemented. Continuously running tests of illustrative models ensure an ergonomic design of the operating elements. Afterwards, the developed control elements are manufactured and installed in a test vehicle. The predictive maintenance system and the driver assistance system are developed in parallel. Finally, the usability and ergonomics of the new control solution are to be tested and evaluated by test persons. The practical benefits of the driver assistance system will be tested and the effects of the various forms of haptic feedback on the drivers evaluated.
This research project is funded under the number ZF4492102HM8 by the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) as part of the program "Zentralen Innovationsprogramms Mittelstand (ZIM)".