(19)
(11)EP 1 884 439 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
21.12.2011 Bulletin 2011/51

(21)Application number: 07112815.1

(22)Date of filing:  20.07.2007
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B62B 3/06(2006.01)
B62D 49/06(2006.01)
B62B 3/12(2006.01)
A61G 7/08(2006.01)

(54)

Lift truck

Gabelstapler

Chariot élévateur


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MT NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 28.07.2006 IT BO20060570

(43)Date of publication of application:
06.02.2008 Bulletin 2008/06

(60)Divisional application:
09166721.2 / 2108564
11178858.4

(73)Proprietors:
  • Vire Automation S.r.l.
    48018 Faenza (RA) (IT)
  • Formula Servizi Società Cooperativa
    47100 Forlì (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • Oltrecolli, Maurizio
    48010 Cotignola RA (IT)
  • Cavini, Renzo
    48018 Faenza RA (IT)
  • Rinaldini, Graziano
    47034 Forlimpopoli FO (IT)

(74)Representative: Modiano, Micaela Nadia et al
Modiano & Partners (IT) Via Meravigli, 16
20123 Milano
20123 Milano (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A- 0 466 065
EP-A- 1 486 393
EP-A- 1 516 796
DE-A1- 2 450 692
DE-A1- 19 723 973
FR-A- 1 365 714
US-A- 2 598 151
US-A1- 2005 016 782
EP-A- 1 439 107
EP-A- 1 506 902
WO-A-03/014001
DE-A1- 19 717 375
DE-A1- 19 817 033
GB-A- 2 419 856
US-A- 4 884 936
US-A1- 2005 189 730
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention relates to a lift truck which has particular mobility and versatility.

    [0002] The need to transport goods and/or various items (including furniture) over short distances has made it necessary to use devices known as lift trucks or more generally as transpallets.

    [0003] The term "pallet" in fact designates a particular platform, generally made of wood, which has particular openings which are suitable for mating with the front forks of lift trucks.

    [0004] The limitation of lift trucks is that they require relatively large maneuvering spaces, due to the fact that their steered wheel is arranged at one end of the truck: the minimum turning radius that can be provided by a traditional truck is equal to the center distance between the steered wheel and the fixed free wheels (arranged at the opposite end of the truck): this minimum turning radius is obtained only by arranging the steered wheel so that its direction of motion is at 90° with respect to the free wheels, leading to an obvious poor maneuverability of the vehicle.

    [0005] In practice, the length of the truck often coincides with the minimum turning radius that can be provided during maneuvers.

    [0006] A field in which a lift truck finds an important and interesting application is the hospital and/or hospital-related field (rehabilitation centers, spas, health care centers, homes, et cetera): in such cases it is in fact necessary to move the beds, often with the patients on them, while passing through narrow corridors and furnished rooms.

    [0007] Hospital beds usually have supporting wheels to allow their easy movement: in particular, the wheels are all casters and can be locked in order to ensure maximum ease of use.

    [0008] To move the beds, the standard practice is to assign two people (one at the bedhead and the other one generally at the opposite end) who guide the bed along the path that it must follow. In this manner, maneuvering problems are minimized (all the wheels are casters), but the operating costs are extremely high, since two people are required for every movement.

    [0009] Of course, these problems occur in a similar manner, and are solved by the present invention, whenever it is necessary to transport pieces of furniture provided with wheels (office furniture, exhibition furnishings, et cetera) in spaces which have tight maneuvring spaces.

    [0010] EP 1 506 902 discloses a load transport assembly having a combination of elements as set forth in the pre-characterizing portion of the appended claim 1.

    [0011] The aim of the present invention is to provide a lift truck with a tight turning radius and with high maneuverability.

    [0012] Within this aim, an object of the present invention is to provide a lift truck with a variable turning radius.

    [0013] Another object of the present invention is to provide a lift truck which is flexible in terms of use, since it is adapted to be used with different load supporting structures and therefore is not necessarily integrated with the element that needs to be transported.

    [0014] Another object of the present invention is to provide a lift truck which is suitable for transporting beds and other pieces of furniture, optionally provided with wheels, and is adapted to work with small maneuvering spaces.

    [0015] Another object of the present invention is to provide a lift truck which has a low cost and is relatively simple to provide in practice and safe in application.

    [0016] In accordance with the invention, there is provided a lift truck as defined in the appended claims.

    [0017] Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will become better apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred but not exclusive embodiment of a lift truck, illustrated by way of non-limiting example in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

    Figure 1 is a perspective view of a lift truck according to the invention;

    Figure 2 is a perspective view of the lift truck according to the invention, without the external housings for covering and protection;

    Figure 3 is a top view of the lift truck according to the invention, without the external housings for covering and protection.



    [0018] With reference to the figures, the reference numeral 1 generally designates a lift truck.

    [0019] The truck 1 comprises a chassis 2 which rests on wheels 3a, 3b and 3c (in the embodiment shown in the figures, the wheels are three, but they might also be more than three in order to ensure greater stability of the entire truck 1) and a platform 4 which can perform a vertical translational motion with respect to the chassis 2.

    [0020] The wheel 3c is free and is arranged proximate to an end of the chassis 2, while the other two wheels 3a and 3b are each controlled by a respective independent motor element 5a and 5b.

    [0021] In particular, the wheels 3a and 3b are parallel and proximate to each other at the sides of the chassis 2: according to the embodiment shown in the figures, the wheels 3a and 3b are surmounted by the platform 4.

    [0022] The motorized wheels 3a and 3b and the respective motor elements 5a and 5b are stably associated with a slider 6, which is engaged slidingly in appropriately provided guiding abutments 7 of the chassis 2: the abutments 7 and the stroke of the slider 6 are mutually parallel and longitudinal with respect to the direction of the extension of the truck 1. A motor 8 and respective motion transmission means 9 (gears, speed reduction units, and the like) are mounted on the chassis 2 in functional association with the slider 6, for its controlled longitudinal translational motion along the guiding abutments 7.

    [0023] The vertically translating platform 4 is moved by means of an appropriate electric motor 10, on which a suitable actuator 11 is keyed; according to a particular embodiment, the actuator 11 can be provided as an element which is designed to convert the rotary motion of the motor shaft into a translational motion of a shaft 12 with which the platform 4 is associated. According to a particular embodiment (not shown in the figures), the platform can be arranged exclusively proximate to the end of the chassis 2 that comprises the free wheel 3c: in this case, the platform 4 is extremely small and comprises support and engagement elements which are stably associable with one or more mutually different structures designed to carry the load, for example with tubular elements, even of different sizes, which are typical of bedheads.

    [0024] According to the embodiment shown in the figures (which is more generic), the platform 4 runs along the entire surface of the truck 1 and has suitable support and engagement elements 13 proximate to the end of the chassis 2 that comprises the free wheel 3c.

    [0025] According to an application of particular interest in practice and in application, the support and engagement elements 13 can be associated with a portion of the head of a hospital bed: in this case, the truck 1 can be used to move the bed rigidly coupled to the engagement elements 13.

    [0026] The operator, after coupling the bed to the elements 13, can in fact transport the bed by using the propulsion action of the truck 1.

    [0027] In order to optimize ease of use, the truck 1 comprises a control and management unit 14, which is designed to control the motors 5a, 5b, 8 and 10: the unit 14 is provided with respective levers 15 for controlling motion (in particular handling forward travel, backward travel and the stopping of all the motors 5a, 5b, 8 and 10) and the direction of motion (in particular defining the speed of each of the motors 5a and 5b, determining the leftward and rightward direction of the motion of the truck 1). The independent motorization of the wheels 3a and 3b in fact ensures that their rotation at different speeds (or even in mutually opposite directions) is converted into rotations of the truck 1, in an extreme case even in place (the two wheels 3a and 3b turn in opposite directions and determine the center of rotation at the midpoint of their center distance).

    [0028] In the more general case, a steering maneuver of the vehicle is obtained by making the two driving wheels move with speeds which are parallel in their direction, have matching or opposite orientations, and have a different absolute value; the turning radius and the momentary center of rotation of the vehicle are determined by the value of the rotation rate of the individual wheels. The control system of the vehicle, provided with a control logic unit, is capable of calculating and optimizing motion as a function of the received command and of the application.

    [0029] Further, the variation of the position of the axis of the wheels 3a and 3b, which can be optionally controlled by the control unit 14 (and can be obtained by means of the translational motion of the slider 7 on the abutments 7 by way of the action of the respective motor 8) allows to arrange said axis in the most convenient position to ensure that the loaded truck 1 can turn in place even in very tight spaces.

    [0030] According to embodiments of particular practical interest, the control unit 14 can comprise a first assembly, which is rigidly coupled to the chassis 2 and is provided with a signal receiver, and a second portable assembly, which is provided with the control levers 15 and is equipped with a signal transmitter which is associated with the receiver: in this manner, the truck could be controlled remotely, with the advantage of eliminating the space occupied by the operator and facilitating the execution of maneuvers in particularly tight spaces.

    [0031] For the operation and power supply of its components, the truck 1 comprises a battery assembly 16: in the embodiment shown in the figures, the assembly 16 is arranged in a cantilever fashion in the portion beyond the motorized wheels 3a and 3b in order to use their weight to give grip to the wheels 3a and 3b and stability to the entire truck 1. As an alternative, it is possible to provide suitable stabilizing counterweights, not shown in the figures.

    [0032] In order to comply with applicable statutory provisions regarding safety, the truck 1 can comprise acoustic and luminous motion indicators: these accessories are particularly important in all environments in which there are also uninformed people in addition to operators (for example hospitals).

    [0033] To facilitate use by the operator, the truck 1 can also comprise an end ledge 17 for accommodating the operator.

    [0034] It has thus been shown that the invention as defined in the claims achieves the intended aim and objects.

    [0035] The invention thus conceived is susceptible of numerous modifications and variations, within the scope of the appended claims.

    [0036] All the details may further be replaced with other technically equivalent ones.

    [0037] In the exemplary embodiments shown, individual characteristics, given in relation to specific examples, may actually be interchanged with other different characteristics that exist in other exemplary embodiments.

    [0038] In practice, the materials used, as well as the shapes and dimensions, may be any according to requirements without thereby abandoning the scope of the protection of the appended claims.

    [0039] Where technical features mentioned in any claim are followed by reference signs, those reference signs have been included for the sole purpose of increasing the intelligibility of the claims and accordingly such reference signs do not have any limiting effect on the interpretation of each element identified by way of example by such reference signs.


    Claims

    1. A lift truck of the type which comprises a chassis (2) which rests on at least three wheels (3a, 3b, 3c), a platform (4) which can perform a vertical translational motion with respect to said chassis (2), and at least one respective element for moving one of said wheels (3a, 3b, 3c), at least one of said wheels (3c) being free and arranged proximate to an end of said chassis (2) and two of said wheels (3a, 3b) are each controlled by a respective independent motor element (5a, 5b) and are mutually parallel and proximate to each other, said platform (4) lying above said motorized wheels (3a, 3b), characterized in that said motorized wheels (3a, 3b) and the respective motor elements (5a, 5b) are stably associated with a slider (6) which is engaged slidingly in appropriately provided guiding abutments (7) of said chassis (2), said abutments (7) and the stroke of said slider (6) being parallel and longitudinal with respect to the longitudinal direction of said truck (1).
     
    2. The lift truck according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises a motor (8) and respective emotion transmission means (9), which are associated with said slider (6) for its controlled longitudinal translational motion along said guiding abutments (7).
     
    3. The lift truck according to claim 1, characterized in that said vertically movable platform (4) is arranged proximate to the end of said chassis (2) which comprises the at least one said free wheel (3c), said platform (4) being provided with support and engagement elements.
     
    4. The lift truck according to claim 1, characterized in that the platform (4) runs along the entire surface of the truck (1) and has suitable support and engagement elements (13) proximate to the end of the chassis (2) that comprises the at least one free wheel (3c).
     
    5. The lift truck according to claim 4, characterized in that said support and engagement elements (13) arse associable with a portion of the head of a hospital bed, said truck (1) being adapted to move said bed which is rigidly coupled to said engagement elements (13).
     
    6. The lift truck according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a control and management unit (14) which is designed to control said motors (5a, 5b, 8), said control and management unit (14) being provided with respective levers (15) for controlling motion, forward travel, backward travel and stopping, and the direction of motion, leftward and rightward direction.
     
    7. The lift truck according to claim 6, characterized in that said control and management unit (14) comprises a first assembly, which is rigidly coupled to said chassis (2) and is provided with a signal receiver, and a second portable assembly, which is provided with said control levers (15) and with a signal transmitter which is associated with said receiver.
     
    8. The lift truck according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises at least one battery (16), which is arranged so as to cantilever out in the portion beyond said motorized wheels (3a, 3b) its weight giving grip to said wheels (3a, 3b) and stability to said truck (1).
     
    9. The lift truck according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises acoustic and luminous motion indicators.
     
    10. The lift truck according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises an end ledge (17) for accommodating the operator.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Ein Gabelstapler von der Art, der ein Fahrgestell (2) umfasst, das auf mindestens drei Rädern (3a, 3b, 3c) ruht, eine Plattform (4), die eine vertikale translatorische Bewegung in Bezug zu dem Fahrgestell (2) durchführen kann, und mindestens ein entsprechendes Element zum Bewegen eines der Räder (3a, 3b, 3c), wobei mindestens eines der Räder (3c) frei ist und angrenzend an ein Ende des Fahrgestells (2) angeordnet ist und zwei der Räder (3a, 3b) jeweils von einem entsprechenden unabhängigen Motorelement (5a, 5b) gesteuert werden und zueinander parallel sind und aneinander angrenzen, wobei die Plattform (4) oberhalb der motorisierten Räder (3a, 3b) liegt, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die motorisierten Räder (3a, 3b) und die entsprechenden Motorelemente (5a, 5b) fest mit einem Gleitstück (6) assoziiert sind, das verschiebbar mit geeignet bereitgestellten Führungs-Auflagern (7) des Fahrgestells (2) in Eingriff steht, wobei die Auflager (7) und der Hub des Gleitstücks (6) parallel und in Längsrichtung zur Längsrichtung des Gabelstaplers (1) angeordnet sind.
     
    2. Der Gabelstapler gemäß Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er einen Motor (8) und entsprechende Bewegungsübertragungsmittel (9) umfasst, die mit dem Gleitstück (6) zum Zwecke seiner gesteuerten translatorischen Bewegung in Längsrichtung entlang den Führungs-Auflagern (7) assoziiert sind.
     
    3. Der Gabelstapler gemäß Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die vertikal bewegliche Plattform (4) nahe dem Ende des Fahrgestells (2) angeordnet ist, welches das mindestens eine freie Rad (3c) umfasst, wobei die Plattform (4) mit Stütz- und Eingriffselementen ausgestattet ist.
     
    4. Der Gabelstapler gemäß Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Plattform (4) entlang der gesamten Oberfläche des Gabelstaplers (1) verläuft und geeignete Stütz- und Eingriffselemente (13) nahe dem Ende des Fahrgestells (2) hat, welches das mindestens eine freie Rad (3c) umfasst.
     
    5. Der Gabelstapler gemäß Anspruch 4, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Stütz- und Eingriffselemente (13) mit einem Teil des Kopfs eines Krankenhausbetts assoziiert werden können, wobei der Gabelstapler (1) ausgebildet ist, um das Bett zu bewegen, das starr mit den Eingriffselementen (13) gekoppelt ist.
     
    6. Der Gabelstapler gemäß einem oder mehreren der obigen Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er eine Steuerungs- und Verwaltungseinheit (14) umfasst, die dazu dient, die Motoren (5a, 5b, 8) zu steuern, wobei die Steuerungs- und Verwaltungseinheit (14) mit entsprechenden Hebeln (15) ausgestattet ist, zur Steuerung der Bewegung, Vorwärtsfahrt, Rückwärtsfahrt und des Anhaltens, und der Bewegungsrichtung, der Linksrichtung und Rechtsrichtung.
     
    7. Der Gabelstapler gemäß Anspruch 6, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Steuerungs- und Verwaltungseinheit (14) einen ersten Aufbau umfasst, der starr mit dem Fahrgestell (2) gekoppelt und mit einem Signalempfänger ausgestattet ist, und einen zweiten tragbaren Aufbau umfasst, der mit den Steuerhebeln (15) und mit einem Signalsender ausgestattet ist, welcher mit dem Empfänger assoziiert ist.
     
    8. Der Gabelstapler gemäß einem oder mehreren der obigen Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er mindestens eine Batterie (16) umfasst, die so angeordnet ist, dass sie in dem Abschnitt über die motorisierten Räder (3a, 3b) hinaus freitragend vorsteht, wobei ihr Gewicht den Rädern (3a, 3b) Straßenhaftung und dem Gabelstapler (1) Stabilität verleiht.
     
    9. Der Gabelstapler gemäß einem oder mehreren der obigen Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er akustische und leuchtende Bewegungsanzeiger umfasst.
     
    10. Der Gabelstapler gemäß einem oder mehreren der obigen Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er einen Endabsatz (17) zur Aufnahme des Bedieners umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Chariot élévateur du type comprenant un châssis (2) reposant sur au moins trois roues (3a, 3b, 3c), une plate-forme (4) qui peut effectuer un mouvement de translation verticale par rapport audit châssis (2), et au moins un élément respectif pour déplacer l'une desdites roues (3a, 3b, 3c), au moins l'une desdites roues (3c) étant libre et disposée proche d'une extrémité dudit châssis (2) et deux desdites roues (3a, 3b) étant commandées chacune par un organe motorisé indépendant respectif (5a, 5b) et étant mutuellement parallèles et proches l'une de l'autre, ladite plate-forme (4) étant située au-dessus desdites roues motorisées (3a, 3b), caractérisé en ce que lesdites roues motorisées (3a, 3b) et les organes motorisés respectifs (5a, 5b) sont associés de manière stable à un coulisseau (6) qui est engagé de manière coulissante dans des butées de guidage (7) dudit châssis (2) prévues de manière appropriée, lesdites butées (7) et la course dudit coulisseau (6) étant parallèles et longitudinales par rapport au sens longitudinal dudit chariot (1).
     
    2. Chariot élévateur selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend un moteur (8) et des moyens de transmission de mouvement respectifs (9) qui sont associés audit coulisseau (6) pour assurer son mouvement de translation longitudinal contrôlé le long desdites butées de guidage (7).
     
    3. Chariot élévateur selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que ladite plate-forme déplaçable verticalement (4) est disposée proche de l'extrémité dudit châssis (2) qui comprend l'au moins une roue libre (3c), ladite plate-forme (4) étant munie d'éléments de support et d'engagement.
     
    4. Chariot élévateur selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que la plate-forme (4) longe toute la surface du chariot (1) et possède des éléments de support et d'engagement (13) appropriés proches de l'extrémité du châssis (2) qui comprend l'au moins une roue libre (3c).
     
    5. Chariot élévateur selon la revendication 4, caractérisé en ce que lesdits éléments de support et d'engagement (13) peuvent être associés à une portion de la tête d'un lit d'hôpital, ledit chariot (1) étant adapté pour déplacer ledit lit qui est couplé de manière rigide auxdits éléments d'engagement (13).
     
    6. Chariot élévateur selon l'une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend une unité de commande et de gestion (14) qui est conçue pour commander lesdits moteurs (5a, 5b, 8), ladite unité de commande et de gestion (14) étant munie de leviers respectifs (15) pour commander le mouvement, l'avance, le recul et l'arrêt, et la direction du mouvement, la direction gauche et droite.
     
    7. Chariot élévateur selon la revendication 6, caractérisé en ce que ladite unité de commande et de gestion (14) comprend un premier ensemble couplé de manière rigide audit châssis (2) et muni d'un récepteur de signaux, et un second ensemble portable muni desdits leviers de commande (15) et d'un émetteur de signaux qui est associé audit récepteur.
     
    8. Chariot élévateur selon l'une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend au moins une batterie (16) qui est disposée de manière à être en porte-à-faux dans la portion située au-delà desdites roues motorisées (3a, 3b), son poids conférant une prise auxdites roues (3a, 3b) et de la stabilité audit chariot (1).
     
    9. Chariot élévateur selon l'une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend des indicateurs de mouvement acoustiques et lumineux.
     
    10. Chariot élévateur selon l'une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend une pièce d'appui d'extrémité (17) pour accueillir l'opérateur.
     




    Drawing











    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description