A Look At Lift Truck Design

Peter Amico's Bet: The Sidewinder ATX-3000

The marketing challenge for Peter Amico's new lift truck concept may be in communicating the totally new application implications of the unusual design. For example, will potential customers understand that the benefits of its omnidirectional design are more than the ability to take a 40-foot beam through a 12-foot doorway? Drive motors at each wheel enable sideways movement and also enable the vehicle to rotate 360 degrees within its own footprint. And will potential customers note the designed-in maintenance savings? Amico, chairman and CEO of Airtrax Inc., Hammonton, N.J., is also counting on prospects -- and industrial architects -- to appreciate that such maneuverability could eliminate the need for 20% to 25% of the floor-space needs for an industrial plant or warehouse. Amico says the concept is designed to increase storage density by placing heavier loads higher in racks, reducing aisle width and decreasing space between pallets. Productivity in pick-and-place operations soars because a lot less time is spent backing up, he adds. Controlled via two joysticks, the truck has no steering wheel, brake pedal, clutch pedal and no shifting rods or levers. The traction-control joystick controls movements in all directions via a microprocessor. A second joystick controls all of the hydraulic movements, including lift, lower, tilt and auxiliary functions. "Vehicle design is modular in the sense that each corner of the truck has a motor, a brake, a transmission and a unique roller-based wheel," says Amico. Each wheel consists of a high-strength, steel hub with 12 specially designed polyurethane-coated elliptical rollers. The roller-based wheel design facilitates maneuverability, adds Amico.

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