Production of forklift model ends after more than 25 years
Published: 27 September 2012 - Heather Ramsden
Last year, after more than 25 years in production, Hyster manufactured the last in a long line of XL 24v three wheel electric trucks. The A1.00-1.50XL was a unique truck in the history of Hyster because every aspect of design, development, and testing was carried out in Scotland, at the Irvine Plant, nearly 5,000 miles away from its global development centre in Portland, USA.
It was hardly surprising that the core team of 12 engineers, many recruited from outside the industry were nicknamed the A Team after the US TV series popular in the early 80s. They were recruited for the specific purpose of designing a new three-wheel electric truck – they were given two years to get the job done and they brought the project in on time. This was an achievement, since back then CAD and FEA techniques were only imagined by engineers – in those days it was back to the drawing boards.
Bobby Dickson, who was invited to join the A Team back in 1984, speaks with pride that their original design stood the test of time so well, “we never thought our two year project would still be in production after 25 years, despite many upgrades, our original design was built to last.”
The A1.00-1.50XL forklift truck was a compact rear wheel drive design, allowing free rotation of the front wheels to achieve ‘zero turn radius’. It was the original ‘simple, but effective’ concept and because it worked so well, it delivered very low operating costs. Unfortunately all good things must end and after more than 16,000 trucks were produced, the last A Truck was shipped from Craigavon to Luxembourg in December last year.
One of the biggest challenges facing Hyster was how to make a better A Truck, but last year the original design was replaced by the next generation series of A1.3-1.5XNT, 24-Volt compact, rear wheel drive truck.
The new truck provides the economy, performance, battery shift life and manoeuvrability, ideal for light to medium duty applications. It has AC motors throughout (hoist/steer and traction), delivers a competitive top speed of 12 km/h and lifting speed of 0.3 m/s. A choice of eLo and HiP performance settings delivers the ‘e-Balance’ of performance and energy consumption.
The all new A1.3-1.5XNT is now built at the 35,896 m2 (386,241 sq ft) Craigavon factory which opened in April 1981 and now employs over 600 people. The NACCO Materials Handling Group (NMHG) factory has seen significant investments in the last couple of years and maintains a philosophy of high volume, low cost, high quality and on time delivery. In January 2012, The European Foundation of Quality Management awarded the NMHG plant, the prestigious Northern Ireland Quality Award 2011.
Bobby Dickson admits that while ‘customer needs have not changed very much since the AXL was launched in 1985, new manufacturing and systems technologies have advanced so far and so fast in recent years, that change was inevitable.’ Dickson says: “I’m pleased to have been associated with a design original that was able to stand the test of time and epitomises the strength of UK forklift manufacturing expertise”.