Welcome back to our "Focus On" series, the first update of the new year to give you the quick run-down on a useful piece of equipment. Today we're introducing the Toyota 3-Wheel Electric series. Pictured above is the 8FBE, a sit-down counterbalance truck with a twist: only three points of contact with the ground. You can read what Toyota has to say about it here.
The 3-Wheel Electric series is a small family of five trucks available in 36V and 48V versions, and divided by weight class and tire type. One of the most widely used of these is the 8FBE20U with a base capacity of 4000 lbs. Something to keep in mind though is that this is also the largest truck in this particular line (we'll talk more about this point below).
Before we get to that part though, one of the biggest points to make about the 3-Wheel Electric is that even if you've never used a forklift before or see a fair bit of staff movement, the 3-Wheel Electric is really easy to drive. As one of the most maneuverable units on the market, even novice users can quickly feel comfortable driving it. The small size is a huge gift in this regard, as the tiny counterweight and Toyota's high visibility masts keep situational awareness high even without considering the other benefits that every Toyota ships with.
3-Wheel Electric Dimensions
Why make a 3-Wheel forklift?
If you're used to the run-of-the-mill beast you probably think they look a little funny to start with (and you're not wrong!). A tiny counterweight means most of their mass is battery, and they lack the usual heft in the rear of each truck.
A little earlier I mentioned that these are a warehouse truck. They aren't just a warehouse truck, but that's where they shine. In the warehousing world size is king; more specifically though it is all about basic right angle stack distance. How narrow an aisle can a truck work in and not worry about knocking into things? Because like we talked about last time the less space you need to dedicate for aisles, the more space you have for racking.
With that "less is more" in mind, the 8FBE20U can do that turn and stack in almost a foot less space than a similarly rated four wheel forklift (10"/25cm less to be specific). In this case it means that for every eight aisles in your warehouse you could save an entire aisle worth of space! Keep in mind this is with the largest of the 3-Wheel Electrics too. Maybe you don't need that 4000 lbs. of base lift capacity but only need 3000? You can save another 8"/20cm of length by using the 8FBES18U (the short model). So now you're saving more than 20"/50cm compared to a 4 wheel forklift!
Maybe you don't have a huge warehouse and even with that space saving you couldn't fit another set of racking in. What does a 3-Wheel Electric get you in that case? The much smaller turn radius means you need to dedicate less space at the ends of aisles to being empty for the forklift to use. This means you could possibly add a bit more racking or anything else you can think of for that suddenly available space (floor stacking, high movement items, LIFO stock, etc.). Less turning space also means the unit handles better in general and can get around in tight spaces and around loading docks that much more accurately and safely. That wide swing typical of forklifts almost disappears and lets these trucks turn within their own length.
This tight maneuverability means that the 3-Wheel Electric can even work in spaces that typically don't fit forklifts, so you can find more things for the truck to do. Picking and placing product closer to where it will be used is just the start in a manufacturing setting, and working inside trailers becomes a breeze. With up to 79"/202cm of free lift, these trucks can easily double stack inside a trailer without even needing a special mast!
Speaking of features: Toyota didn't stint because the truck is smaller!
Like we talked about before Toyota forklifts ship with a lot of safety features built in. A couple of the most important for the 3-Wheel Electric are the Active Mast Control (AMC) we've talked about before, and the automatic turn speed control built into the forklift.
Because of the "third wheel" design (actually two wheels on the same pivot point) there isn't a traditional axle for Toyota to install their usual System of Active Stability (SAS) swing-lock cylinder on. Without this ability to add stability to the truck, Toyota needed to find a way to bring that safety feature to life in the 3-Wheel Electric. So pairing the AMC with the new turn speed controls made the truck safer without sacrificing the enhanced turn capacity of the truck. Because it is a tripod unit it will never have the stability that a true SAS equipped truck has, but Toyota still leads the industry in safety.
Wet disc brakes as default are another advance Toyota has built into these units. Sealing the brakes away behind the steel of the unit means it is that much harder to interfere with, as well as making them food storage friendly by eliminating brake dust! The wet brakes mean they dissipate heat that much faster, which aids in reduced wear and better performance under heavy use. This is paired with a momentary hold system to help prevent the truck from rolling unexpectedly on inclines.
As always ergonomics are a concern as well. Large entry handles on both sides of the forklift (and optional rear assist grip with horn button) mean your drivers will always have someplace to hold onto when boarding the unit from the conveniently low punched entry plate steps (no plastic here!). Cowl mounted controls, easy to adjust steer column with brake release, and directional control at their fingertips all mean that operators can control the forklift with a minimum of extra movement and without having to look down to fiddle with controls.
How high can you go?
What most people want to know about forklifts boils down to basically three questions: how much can it lift, how high can it lift it, and how long can it do it for?
Thanks to advances in battery technology and AC power systems, the 3-Wheel Electric can run 20% longer and 15% faster than the competition. This means fewer charges, and if you're in a particularly intense situation, it means you need fewer batteries per truck to keep it running 24/7. This means less space and time dedicated to battery handling, and less budget needed to keep things running smoothly. Please reach out to one of our Customer Service Specialists to help learn how you can get the best power system for your needs.
When it comes to how much these trucks can lift, there isn't as wide a range as some of the more traditional lift trucks. Built to work in a warehouse setting and much smaller than a more common truck, the 3-Wheel Electric lifts between 3000lbs (1360 kg) and 4000lbs (1814 kg) base capacity. The low end of that range is the 8FBE15U and the 8FBES15U (S is for "short," an option that shrinks the truck 2" in length), at 3500lbs (1587 kg) base capacity sits the 8FBE18U and the 8FBEH18U (the H has a high-capacity battery), while the top end is the 8FBE20U we started today mentioning.
How high can you get with the 3-Wheel Electric? Like always it comes down to what you need it to do and how you intend to use it. The maximum fork height depends on which mast you decide on, from the positively stubby Wide Visible (V) ranging from 100-159" (253-440cm), the Full Free-Lift 2-stage (FV) ranges from 107-159" (273-440cm), the Full Free-Lift 3-stsage (FSV) gives you 147-237" (374-604cm), and the towering Full Free-Lift 4-stage (QFV) takes you to a whopping 241-277" (613-705cm).
A word of caution on those heights though: If you need a full base capacity of 3000-4000lbs (1360-1814kg) at the top end of these ranges, you might want to invest in a Reach Truck instead. We'll talk about those in a later installment of Focus On. At full 277.5" (705.5cm) extension, the QFV mast with cushion tires will support only a 1850lbs (839 kg) base capacity. It does this with a mast that is 40% shorter than a 3-stage reach truck though, so if you have to go through doors or into trailers it might still be something to think about.
Lets talk options!
You can call it what you want: bells and whistles, bling, flash, special use features, added safety items, etc. The fact is that Toyota gives you a lot of ways to customize your truck straight from the factory. EE and ES rated units, 36 or 48 volt electrical systems, air, solid, or cushion tires, battery roll-out sliders, cold storage, different carriage widths and four different masts... it's a pretty long list.
The usual list of lights, strobes, and work-lights are complimented by options like insetting the headlights into the overhead guard (no more smashing them off!) and key off headlight systems. Safety lights, indicators, and alarms can all be selected in various versions. Even the hydraulics get a lot of love, with options for quick disconnect, clamp release interlocks, integral side shifters and side shifting fork positioners, and four way valves mean that any sort of attachment you can imagine can be hooked up to the truck so long as you've got a dataplate to reflect them.
That's a few of the major points for the Toyota 3-Wheel Electric lift trucks, one of the best multi-use warehouse trucks available on the market. Like always if you want to know more you can always Click Here to see what Toyota says about their product.
Better yet you can Get In Contact with one of our CSS Team Members to learn more about this machine and about your options for outfitting your business with some of the best warehouse forklifts on the planet.