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DISCUSSION FORUMS : Forkliftaction.communicate
Forum: Safety, training & legislation
Discussion:  Forklift Collision Detection - What are the important criteria ?
Number of messages: 13

New South Wales, Australia

I am new to this forum.
My name is David Huisman and I have a Electronic development and manufacturing company located in NSW, Australia.
I am looking for feedback from forklift owners and operators regarding the features that would be important to them in a collision detection system. The aim is to use any information received to better serve the industry by supplying systems that satisfy actual needs.

Some valuable insight for me would include:
What style of mounting of tghe devices would be most convenient to fit
Any IP rating requirements
Whether mult-zone detection is important (a pre-warning zone and then alarm zone for example)
What methods of setting the range between objects would be considered to provide ease of installation and configuration
Is a visual and/or audible warning in the cab useful as well as the main Relay contact outputs provided when objects are detected
For units worn by people, would a belt clip, helmet attachment or fit-in-the pocket style of
enclosure be most appropriate.
In addition to preventing forklifts from colliding with people and buildings, is there a requirement for mobile beacons that can mark "kepp out" or danger zones ?

Thanks in advance for any information you may be prepared to share with me. I assume this safety form is the most appropriate place to ask this sort of question.


David Huisman
Managing Director
Orbit Communications
NSW, Australia

Posted 11 Jul 2006 06:21 PM Reply  Report this message
REPLIES: Sort replies by
Wisconsin, United States
I guess I’m a little skeptical of the practicality of a “collision detection” system for lift trucks. Lift trucks must drive directly towards an obstacle (their load) every time they pick up the load. They also drive directly towards racking , stacked loads, or trailer walls to place loads and drive extremely close to racking, other lift trucks, and other obstacles as part of their normal operations.  I’m struggling to accept that you can develop a system that can tell the difference between the objects the lift truck operator is intending to approach and those he is not. My guess is you may try to take speed into account, but there is a significant amount of lift truck damage and injury caused by very slow moving lift trucks. Then there is the whole “direction of travel” thing. Lift trucks travel forward, backward, and sort of sideways (with tight turn radius) and operators have collisions in all directions of travel.

I’ve seen the futuristic demos of collision detection systems for automobiles driving on the highway, but I question how they would perform in city driving. And, lift truck operations take city driving to a whole new level. In past decades we’ve seen impact detectors sell like hotcakes, but in my experience the majority of these devices are very quickly deactivated or had their sensitivity tuned to a level such that they don’t detect anything anymore because in many lift truck environments they just don’t perform as well in the real world as they do in the brochure. I suspect a lift truck collision system will likely just be a much more expensive piece of technology that sounds good, but can’t perform effectively due to the nature of the environment.

I appreciate that there are businesses such as yours working on safety technology such as this, but I guess I need a lot of convincing on this one.

Posted 19 Jul 2006 01:06 AM Reply  Report this message
New South Wales, Australia

Thankyou for your valueable input. This is exactly the type of information I was looking for as it highlights some concerns that others may also have. The concern of false detection and annoyance to operators if the system was continually being activated during the normal part of their operation.

Our systems use an "active" monitoring where a device is located on the  areas,people or objects that must be avoided. This means the alert will not be activated on objects that are not fitted with a device. The range of detection can be set individually for each device. For example it may be that the system activates when within 4m of a person wearing a device but is set to 1m for another object.

Any other ideas/comments please ?




David Huisman
Managing Director
Orbit Communications
NSW, Australia

Posted 19 Jul 2006 09:31 AM Reply  Report this message
Ontario, Canada
You may want to consider a device that senses people or objects in-behind the truck so that when the forklift is in reverse, which hampers many operators views, or they simply don't bother looking backwards, it detcts and warns the operators of such obstructions.  That would resolve the issue of loads, etc., in the front of the truck, which is not an issue because of the requirement to drive in reverse with tall loads blocking the operators' view.  Otherwise, without being blind or careless, the operator DOES have a clear view of what's in front.

Whether it would be effective or not is yet to be determined.

Posted 8 Sep 2006 01:42 AM Reply  Report this message
Ohio, United States
I would like to see a system that has the following criteria:

1) Needs to be durable and weather proof to meet a variety of applications both inside and out.

2) Should not as simple as possible and built off software and other systems that people already know if possible.  Systems only the maker knows are not great in the field and trying to support a system that goes all over the world is not easy with time differences.

3) It should be compact and easy to install on a variety of types of lifts so it can be universally applied to all types of mixed fleets of different fuel types, truck types, etc.

4) It should be easily adjustable in range for different applications and preferences and to create as few false alarms as possible - too many and the system gets disregarded.  

5) It should be able to tell a person from an object, to me property damage is second to people damage.  Property damage is fixed with money but people damage is not.  Forklifts work close to fixed objects all the time, very close.  They should not be that close to people, they may be close but not that close.  Something that senes a person (like the heat signature on infrared systems) might work well but would be costly.  It could tell getting close to a person versus a wall or other item.

I have not seen a system yet mounted on a lift and sold in the US that I think is a good value.  That does not mean there is not a good one, it is just not something I have seen or I felt it was overpriced and undersupported.  Hope this helps.

Posted 22 Sep 2006 01:57 AM Reply  Report this message
New South Wales, Australia

Well, we have finally released our Forklift and Personnel Proximity alarm system. We have called the system "BodyGuard".

I am personally interested in feedback regarding the best mounting options for forklifts and any other issues that we may have overlooked in our development. At the end of the day we want to provide a system that is easy to install and use and is very effective in lowering the risk of collision between forklifts and people.


David Huisman
Managing Director
Orbit Communications
NSW, Australia

Posted 2 Sep 2008 06:54 PM Reply  Report this message
Ohio, United States
Our company researched this exact problem for a few years and found that the best system for our application was custom prepared from [url/email removed] ...they did an excellent job working with our specific problems and the solution has worked beautifully for our concerns.  I would absolutely recommend their products~!

Posted 14 Sep 2011 03:54 AM Reply  Report this message
Ohio, United States
interesting that the site was removed....for those wondering:  read between the lines alert   lines  safety  lines products  lines dot lines com

Posted 14 Sep 2011 03:55 AM Reply  Report this message
New South Wales, Australia

Orbit's BodyGuard proximity detection and warning system does not rely on a fixed proximity detection point between forklift and a detector (as the light beam shown on your site). BodyGuard proximity detection and warning system will detect personnel in close proximity in almost any area as long as they wear the TAG unit. The system will operate in poor visibility areas such as dusty, smoky, dirty environments. It is not prone to false alarm from Ultra sonic noise produced by industrial equipment or infra-red interference and blocking from sunlight etc.
BodyGuard proximity detection and warning system is very flexible. It is easy to set up specific alarms and proximity distances between each object. The system "knows" what type of object it is close to and can respond accordingly.
The history log stored in the BodyGuard proximity detection and warning devices can be used as a pro-active risk reduction tool by allowing any higher collision risk areas to be identified (bunching of proximity detection events over time or by type of object detected or specific operator).


David Huisman
Managing Director
Orbit Communications
NSW, Australia

Posted 14 Sep 2011 07:39 AM Reply  Report this message
South Carolina, United States

I think the task unit might be better utilized as a key to be able to operate the forklift, in other words, only certified by employer operators are given a tag unit, that will then enable them to un-lockout the transmission in the unit they are authorized to use.
You may recognize I don't feel there is any possible better method than an alert, trained and caring operator to deal with the ever changing hazards around a forklift, and that safety devices that induce false security should be avoided as much as sleeping while driving should be avoided.

"it's not rocket surgery"

Modified 15 Sep 2011 05:53 AM
by poster.
Reply  Report this message
New Jersey, United States
You ask, "What are the important criteria?  

With any technical solution to forklift/operator safety such as yours, I will get interested fast when I see the research report comparing various forklifts under various workplace conditions...with and without the device.

In general, I believe the key criterion is that the device can reliably improve upon operator's precision (safety) and speed  on the job.  Another criterion might be that at least 90% of the operators using the device could learn to use it to improve their safety and speed on the job.  

Best wishes,

Joe M.


Operator/Examiner Certification for In-House Supervisors

Posted 15 Sep 2011 06:32 PM Reply  Report this message
England, United Kingdom
With these tags, which I assume are RIFD tags, how does the machine isolate the operator's tag who is driving it. Surely the operator would need a tag to walk in and out of the machine so would be at risk from other machines?

Posted 8 Nov 2011 07:05 PM Reply  Report this message accepts no responsibility for forum content and requires forum participants to adhere to the rules. Click here for more information.

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