Crown Shares Innovative Approach to Forklift Design that Improves the Way People Work

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Upon winning its seventh consecutive International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Crown Equipment shares insights for creating forklifts that improve the way people work.

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When you operate a Crown forklift, it’s obvious the company truly understands the design elements that make a good forklift and the relationship between operators and their lift trucks.

Crown's approach to design focuses on advanced ideas for lift truck operator productivity, safety and product lifespan. Its dedication to researching the human to forklift relationship produces forklifts designed with the highest capacities and speeds for the most productivity.

Industry Trends and Data

  • Nearly three out of every four respondents (71 percent) named driving down costs as the biggest material handling challenge facing their organization, according to an August 2012 survey conducted by Crown Equipment.
  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents to the same survey made it clear that the material handling industry will become more reliant on technology within the next five years.
  • Humans represent nearly 70 percent of the costs associated with operating a forklift.
  • Labor costs associated with the more than 500,000 industrial truck and tractor operators (including forklifts) in the United States exceed $16 billion annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Key Facts

  • When Crown Equipment started producing forklifts 56 years ago, it was committed to designing products that improved the way people worked. The company was founded on the idea that the material handling industry needed a smaller line of high quality lift trucks for intermediate-duty use.
  • Nearly six decades later, Crown has earned more than 80 awards around the world for excellence in forklift design that has revolutionized how people work. And in doing so, Crown forklifts have helped reduce operator cost through design advancements that improve productivity. Some of the most notable accomplishments include:
  • Bringing the market the side-stance design for operator positioning in stand-up counterbalanced forklifts
  • Introducing the sit, lean, stand design that has been adopted across the world for operator positioning in reach trucks
  • Incorporating direct feedback from operators into the design of the X10™ Handle for walkie pallet and stacker forklifts. The X10 Handle allows users to complete lifting, traveling and horn functions simultaneously and comfortably with one hand, right or left. These easy-to-use features improve performance, minimizing hand and wrist movements
  • Creating the industry’s first-ever pantograph reach truck for narrow aisles to reach new heights with heavier loads and greater operator visibility
  • Designing a forklift remote advance system that simplifies workflow and improves the low-level order picking process to increase productivity and reduce operator fatigue. This advanced technology helps reduce the number of steps order selectors take on and off a forklift’s platform by up to 70 percent.
  • Earlier this year, Crown earned its seventh consecutive international design excellence award (IDEA) from the International Designers Society of America (IDSA). Crown’s 21 IDEA awards make the company one of the most decorated companies in the Commercial and Industrial Products category of the competition and one of the most recognized companies regardless of category.
  • In its October 2011 edition, Fast Company magazine included Crown Equipment as part of its feature on “The United States of Design: 30 Companies That Get It.” The magazine said that Crown is “proving that forklifts can be as well designed as iPods.”
  • Crown earned its first design award in 1965 from the American Iron & Steel Institute for a tow tractor/personnel carrier, pallet truck W227.

Quotes from Jim Slattery, vice president of operations, Fairrington Transportation

  • When you operate a Crown forklift, it’s obvious the company truly understands the design elements that make a good forklift and the relationship between operators and their lift trucks.
  • As a result of this commitment, companies such as ours benefit from a product that doesn’t just look nice; but, also helps to make an operator’s job easier and their entire warehouse more productive.

Quotes from Mike Gallagher, vice president of design, Crown Equipment

  • While I am flattered that many in our industry recognize how nice our forklifts look inside warehouses, our emphasis on design is not all about appearance; rather, it is really about experience.
  • We’re well aware of the operator costs associated with forklifts, so our job is to make the operator as productive (and yet comfortable) as possible while he or she is operating the forklift. It is an investment by our customers that cannot be taken for granted.
  • At Crown, design is not just about improving the shapes of machines. It is about improving the way people work.

Additional Resources:
Video Animation of Crown's Design Approach
News Releases Highlighting Crown's Recent Design Awards

About Crown Equipment Corporation
Crown Equipment is one of the world’s largest material handling companies. Crown’s award-winning line of forklifts maintains a reputation for advanced product design, engineering and technology, and integrated manufacturing processes. Offering a broad range of forklifts, as well as automation and fleet management technologies, Crown seeks to provide customers with forward thinking and innovative products designed to improve performance and lower operating costs. Headquartered in New Bremen, Ohio, with regional headquarters in Australia, China, Germany and Singapore, Crown operates a global service and distribution network. Additional information about Crown’s ideas for helping its customers advance the productivity of their operations and accomplish more can be found at

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