Anyone who's roamed the aisles at a ProMat Show knows that material handling professionals can get pretty excited about a shiny new lift truck. But apparently they're not the only ones who appreciate excellence in forklift design. Lift-truck maker Crown Equipment Corp. recently earned accolades from an organization of professional industrial designers for one of its vehicles.
In July, the Industrial Designers Society of America presented Crown with an International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) in the Commercial and Industrial Equipment category for its ESR 5000 Series of narrow-aisle reach trucks. Although judging criteria included visual appeal and appropriate aesthetics, the ESR 5000 didn't earn the award solely for its "pretty face." The selection criteria also included innovation, benefit to the user, benefit to society and natural ecology, and benefit to the client. This is the fifth consecutive year and 18th overall that Crown Equipment has received an IDEA.
To Kazue Sasaki, chairman of Toyota Material Handling North America and president of Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM), a forklift is also a worthy subject for artistic endeavor. Sasaki commissioned a stained-glass "portrait" of his company's 8-Series AC electric forklift (at his own expense) and presented it at a ceremony introducing the new model in August. The detailed design was judged "anatomically correct" by those in attendance. According to one of Sasaki's associates, the Toyota executive closely monitored every step of the design and production process to make sure the image was accurate—no surprise given his background in mechanical engineering and lean manufacturing.