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You have seen remote control cars, aeroplanes, and helicopters. However, what about a remote control forklift? That is exactly what was on display earlier this month in Leeds when Van European unveiled its new equipment purchase. The family-run business spent £32,000 on a two-tonne Palfinger Crayler remote control forklift after seeing a demonstration online.

If you would like to see the forklift in action, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner posted a video on its website on 20 July (2015). In the video, an operator can be seen setting up the forklift, using it to unload a 2-tonne pallet from a waiting truck, and then guiding it into storage underneath the trailer. Although the process appears to be time-consuming, it is very impressive nonetheless.

Even though remote control forklift trucks are not the norm by any stretch of the imagination, there is a lot of potential here if manufacturers can scale up without substantially increasing costs or jeopardising safety. The technology could have a very positive impact on the materials-handling industry over the next several years. If it takes off, the idea could redefine the role of the forklift operator.

Advantages of Remote Operation

The primary appeal of a remote control forklift is the perceived safety of operation. With a traditional forklift, the operator has to safely navigate around workspaces that can be cluttered with equipment, freight, and storage solutions. And of course, there are other workers to worry about. An already difficult task is made much harder when the driver’s view is obstructed by the cargo being moved.

A remote control unit allows the forklift operator full and unobstructed view of his/her entire surroundings. He or she is also better able to manage the load because they can now see it from all four sides. The better view makes for safer and more efficient operation.

As far as disadvantages go, remote forklift operation tends to be slower – although that could be due to the newness of the technology. There is also the weight factor to consider. Right now, no one is making high-capacity forklifts with remote operation. That should not be difficult to correct, however.

Should remote control forklift operation become the norm then it will require a new way of training the typical forklift operator. Not only will he/she need to understand the basic concepts of forklift-based materials handling, he/she will also have to learn to skilfully operate a new set of controls. Instead of learning to manipulate the forklift from the driver’s seat, he or she will be operating from the floor using a remote control device.

The HGV Training Centre currently offers forklift training for individuals planning to operate traditional machines. Will we ever adopt remote control training? That remains to be seen. For now, we are dedicated to providing our students with industry-leading training that makes them as safe as possible in the workplace. We teach the forklift operator how to correctly load and unload freight, how to manoeuvre in tight spaces, proper load-balancing techniques, avoiding collisions with workers, and more.


  1. Huddersfield Daily Examiner – https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-haulage-firm-takes-delivery-9686309


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