Electric counterbalance truck faces the endurance test
In May 2017, UniCarriers added ten new models of the TX series to its counterbalance family. Theo Egberts from Andersom Testing has now investigated whether the electric vehicles really deliver what they promise. The renowned forklift truck expert carries out the IFOY tests on the nominated trucks annually. The TX was scored on the basis of the same standardised criteria.
Text and photos from the following report by Theo Egberts, Andersom Testing
With an impressive range of 10 new models, UniCarriers brings the new TX series on the market. The TX3 range includes 3-wheel forklifts with lifting capacities from 1.25 to 2 tonnes, while the TX4 line offers four-wheel trucks with 1.6, 1.8 and 2 tonnes capacities. Just like their predecessors, under the name Nissan, the trucks are produced in the Spanish Pamplona factory. The TX3 line is available in three chassis lengths, and TX4 in two. The TX3-18L (long wheel-base) test truck offers a 48V / 750 Ah battery instead of the 625 Ah used for the standard chassis.
UniCarriers proudly announce the new TX line and emphasise this claiming ‘the most economical and quietest in its class’. Special features include the ProVision system for optimal visibility and the Stability Support System S3 for extra safety. We do indeed see many of the predicted benefits on our test truck. With the ProVision, UniCarriers works on vision optimization. The front roof edge is chamfered in the line of sight, as is the connecting beams in the overhead guard. The dashboard is kept extra low and the side shift is integrated. This improves the view on the fork tips and reduces the blind spot by ± 10 cm. The pillars of the overhead guard are slimmer and provide maximum visibility of the environment outside the TX3. However, we experience the greatest gain with the two viewing windows in the bulkhead. The sturdy plexiglas offers excellent visibility of the front corners of the load, so forks can be positioned accurately. Such windows could just become the standard in the forklift world.
The TX series is not only more ergonomic than its predecessor in terms of visibility, the entrance has also been improved. The trucks are equipped with an extra step, providing easier and safer access. The foot space on the footplate is spacious and free of obstacles. We would like to see a smarter solution for the locking of the battery cover, the ‘conventional closure’ is sometimes felt in the right lower leg. The brake pedal may also be slightly lower so it would be easier to swing from the acceleration pedal to the brake pedal. The Grammer MSG65 seat sits fine and the armrest with integrated fingertip-handles is perfectly adjustable and solid. With the thumb, the switch for the travel direction (forward / backward) can be adjusted, with the little or ring finger you can easily indicate the direction (right / left). Optional is a push button to set the forks automatically in horizontal position. Those who prefer mechanical levers, they are available – the choice between the two drive options can be made without additional costs.
With the Stability Support System (S3), the TX ensures safety. The system continually measures the steering angle, the load and the speed, so that the stability of the truck remains steady. The so-called Dynamic Cornering Control ensures a lower speed in curves but keeps the truck just a little bit too long in straight-ahead mode when driving straight, which means that we lose some flexibility and time. It is nice to see that the TX standard has a weighing indication and warns when threatened to overload. Also, standard is the new steer-by-wire system with steering wheel synchronization. With this system, the steering wheel is always in the same position when driving straight ahead and that is very pleasant. The steering process is controlled and predictable. Thanks to the electric steering system, the steering column remains slim ensuring more legroom. The column is infinitely adjustable in angle of inclination, but not in height. The column is available in two heights, we experience the higher version on our test truck as just a little too high. Also standard is a rear assist grip with horn on the rear roof post for extra secure grip when reversing. The TX also has a built-in consumption meter, the new display shows the additional information about the energy consumption of the truck.
The question remains about the lowest energy consumption and noise level. The TX3 has indeed become very quiet, but not quieter than other modern trucks. However, this is out of the question when reversing; the warning beeper is explicit presence. According to UniCarriers, energy consumption is very low, but we do not see these values in the measurements of our practice-oriented test approach. Thanks to the electric steering and the improved energy recovery, the TX3-18L is more efficient than its predecessor and we achieve a slightly more favourable value than the average consumption in this class. The measured productivity is slightly less favourable than average. We owe this, among other things, to the delayed acceleration after taking sharp turns and the ‘second of thought’ when lifting. Remaining us to conclude that we experience the P position as the finest driving and working mode (H is quite brute, E too careful) and this makes the TX3-18L a nice, stable and predictable truck. The truck is pleasantly solid, offers an easy battery change from the side and is modern. In our opinion, the best feature is the strong improved view of the ProVision system and the electrical steering. The few minuses are surmountable and might be adjusted by UniCarriers in due course.
With the TX3-18L UniCarriers brings a worthy successor for the TX3-18 which we tested in 2013. The newcomer is more refined, more economical and offers some unique aspects that may become the norm for the internal transport industry.
Plus, and minus