“I gain great satisfaction in making someone else’s job easier,” enthuses Malcolm Cole, Engineering Manager at Yale Europe Materials Handling.
In March 2017, Yale® was delighted to be presented with the Ergonomics prize for the MPT Series Rider Pallet Truck at the FLTA Awards for Excellence ceremony. For all those involved with the project, this moment was the culmination of years of research and development, all geared towards creating the best possible product for customers’ use.
Devising and assembling this award-winning truck required the expertise of a well-balanced and experienced team, led on this occasion by Project Sponsor Mark Stent, the Engineering Concept Centre (ECC) Operations Director. Alongside Senior Project Engineer Matthew Wiacek, who served as the Project Manager, the two have nearly 50 years’ experience in the world of materials handling. Combined, they oversaw an extensive design and construction process, liaising with Mechanical Engineer Alex Manning and Project Engineer Andrew White, who were members of the development team responsible for making the Rider Pallet plans a reality, as well as Malcolm Cole, Engineering Manager, who presided over the testing and validation of the project at each stage of development.
“We started the project in 2012, so it would have been early 2014 when we started talking to people about it to involve a wider team in the truck’s original conception – sales, industry and solutions experts, as well as dealers,” explains Matthew. “We sought the views of customers and truck users so that we could understand their needs. We used this knowledge to produce prototype A, our first real functioning truck, which we could take back to customers and confirm that we had interpreted their needs correctly. In 2014, our attention focused on production and development of the design to ensure it was reliable before building a production-ready prototype B in 2015.”
With the increased focus in recent years on the productivity of employees, as well as their health and wellbeing, ergonomics is continuing to play an even more prominent role within the logistics industry. It is therefore no surprise to discover that right from the initial idea stages of the design process through to the final testing of prototypes, customer input remained central to the entire MPT Series Rider Pallet Truck project.
“There were a number of visits to various customers not only to conduct interviews, but also to observe their operations and to see exactly how they used their trucks,” says Mark. “We wanted to understand what they were trying to achieve as opposed to just doing what everybody else does.”
“We tested and validated each element, updating the truck to evaluate every aspect of it,” adds Malcolm. “We brought in contract forklift truck operators who tested it in a range of environments by carrying out a set of tasks we observed at customer locations. They provided valuable feedback which was acted upon.”
The importance of incorporating so much customer feedback into the development process ensures that products are as ergonomic as possible, as well as keeping Yale at the forefront of an increasingly competitive market.
As Mark puts it: “We would rather start with the customer and a blank piece of paper, which is where you then get the unique selling points, features that are different to all of our competitors. So we were therefore driven by the aspirations of the customer.”
This intensive research into customer needs is clear to see from the final design of the Yale MPT Series Rider Pallet Truck. Designed with customer productivity in mind, this series of the Yale Rider Pallet Truck ensures operators of all sizes can find comfortable positions in which to operate. An adaptive seat offers sit, lean and stand functionality at the touch of a button, giving operators freedom of movement, whether for short or long transfers.