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Sustainable forklift development

Thursday, 12 Sep 2019 ( #940 )
Reducing carbon emissions and other atmospheric pollutants is an increasing demand. We must achieve this while maintaining an excellent user experience for the driver and meeting customers’ performance and operating cost needs.
How will tomorrow's IC engine forklifts meet users' needs? This is a key question for the new IC Engine Product Manager at Cat® Lift Trucks, who combines her engineering knowledge with a deep care for the planet.

Carmen van Boeckel seems ideally suited to an organisation with such global perspectives and activities, as she has experienced much more of the world than most people. Thanks to her parents' international projects, she has lived and attended school in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Tanzania and the United States, as well as The Netherlands.

"My three sisters have also worked and studied in different countries, and when we get together it's like a Unicef meeting with discussions in three or four languages. We grew up in a family where sustainability was always a topic of conversation at the dinner table. I'm very happy to be working for an international manufacturer that makes sustainable development such a high priority."

During her studies, she worked in a Bolivian orphanage, an American fitness centre and a French surf lodge. After graduating from the Hogeschool van Amsterdam with a BEng degree in aviation engineering, she developed further skills at two Dutch companies before joining Cat Lift Trucks.

Life lessons

"Each country and job taught me something I still use on a daily basis, both in my job and at home," she says. Her most memorable learning experiences include a hair-raising journey home from school - past road blocks and burning tyres - during an anti-government riot in Bolivia. While living in Tanzania, she remembers having to secure her school lunch bag against monkeys who waited on every corner.

"In Africa, I met the famous naturalist Jane Goodall and learned about her passion concerning environmental crises," Carmen recalls. "She urges us to consider the effects of our actions on all living things and on the planet we share."

Connecting the specialists

Before joining Cat Lift Trucks, Carmen often found she had to prove herself to male staff who had difficulty in taking a female engineer seriously. She was able to win the respect of everyone from tough rig workers to highly specialised software engineers.

"The answer, I find, is to show a genuine interest in what they do," she explains. "For anyone who is passionate about their specialty, a chance to talk to someone who is really interested is a treat. It's great for me too, as I do actually love talking with people who know a lot about their very specific subjects."

Carmen describes herself as a 'bridge', connecting the expertise of specialists to the business in which they work. At the same time, her bridging role helps the experts to understand what others in the business need from them.

In her first position at Cat Lift Trucks, as a Technical Trainer, this approach enabled her to interpret and communicate each subject to service engineers. As a Product Manager, her co-operation with R&D, marketing, sales & aftermarket and dealer staff will help to deliver the right new products.

Priorities in engineering

Having started in aviation, Carmen has noted some interesting similarities between aircraft and forklift engineering. "One important goal they have in common is to make life easier for the person in the pilot's or driver's seat. Safety and quality are essential too.

"I believe manufacturers in both industries should focus on continuous improvement of the strong core products in which they specialise, while simultaneously exploring new directions. It's also vital to involve all stakeholders at an early stage in every new development."

Her attraction to the world of forklift trucks owes much to the endless diversity of applications in which these machines are used. The challenge of matching forklift solutions to highly complex needs is one she relishes.

The future of IC engine forklifts

As she starts her new job, Carmen van Boeckel will be assessing today's IC engine challenges and looking closely at what developing technologies have to offer.

"One thing is very clear: reducing carbon emissions and other atmospheric pollutants is an increasing demand. We must achieve this while maintaining an excellent user experience for the driver and, of course, meeting customers' performance and operating cost needs.

"Cat Lift Trucks has an impressive record of sustainably satisfying all of those demands through strong teamwork and shared values. As part of its team, I look forward to drawing on my environmental awareness, my education in sustainability and my background in engineering to help find new answers."

Further information on Cat® forklifts, warehouse equipment and related services can be found at See them in action via and follow the news on Facebook and Twitter.

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