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From Mechanical to Electric: An Extensive Product Portfolio for Material Handling Applications

  • Electric drives and steering systems provide an optimal position for competition on the global market
  • New joint venture enables ZF to become a complete supplier solutions for material handling vehicles
  • Driveline technology for heavy material handling vehicles

Each application in material handling has special requirements that call for different technical solutions. Whether it is quiet, emission-free electric forklift trucks for indoor use or diesel forklifts required to transport heavy loads outdoors across long distances: ZF supplies the technology. ZF offers a wide array of products for both of these product types. These include electrically powered system solutions for machines with hugely varying kinds of battery technology, fuel cells or hybrid drives. These include counterbalance lift trucks, seated or standing driver equipment or walkies stackers, low and high-lift trucks in ITIA warehouse technology classes 1 through 3. Alternatively, we offer solutions for all kinds of material handling vehicles with internal combustion engines.

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From Mechanical to Electric: An Extensive Product Portfolio for Material Handling Applications

New joint venture enables ZF to become a complete supplier for material handling vehicles

ZF is reinforcing its position on the forklift market via its joint venture with Chinese Anhui Heli Co., Ltd. The joint venture opens up ZF's access to the world's largest and fastest-growing lift truck market in China. Additionally, ZF peads out its extensive product portfolio with new products and those products based on Anhui Heli technology.

Ideally placed for global manufacturing

One of the big competitive advantages which ZF offers its globally operating customers is establishing its production locations internationally, otherwise termed the ‘global footprint’. In the material handling sector, ZF is represented worldwide by its plants in Passau (Germany), Stankov (Czech Republic), Gainesville (USA), Hangzhou (China) and has another plant scheduled for Hefei (China), enabling ZF to stay close to its customers. This enables ZF to adapt production systems precisely to the requirements specific to their respective markets. These production systems are based on six principles: standardization and flexibility, process orientation for customer/supplier relations, just-in-time production, employee and team orientation, zero error policy and innovation and continuous improvement.

ZF electric drives and steering systems

ZF also demonstrates expertise when it comes to systems for forklift drive systems: its ZF eTRAC brand (image 3) offers electric drive systems for electrically powered forklifts with a lifting capacity of up to 3.5 tons. The components of such technology are perfectly co-ordinated and include: traction motor, brake, wheel, connector frames, steering motor and steering sensor – basically everything that you need to drive, steer and brake a forklift truck.

ZF offers customers front and rear-wheel drives for electrical counterbalance lift trucks, along with complete installation-ready systems for all types of warehouse technology such as mobile elevating work platforms, electric tugs, cleaning vehicles, driverless transportation systems and other special applications, with the option that all of these can be tailored to the customer using various alternative solutions (spur, bevel and planetary gear systems).

The ZF eSTEER EPS 3 model (image 4) for front-drive three-wheel counterbalance lift trucks and EPS 4, the new electromechanical axle steering system (image 5) for front-drive four-wheel counterbalance lift trucks rounds out the company's portfolio.

Heavy Material Handling with ZF ERGOPOWER

ZF ERGOPOWER transmission (image 6) offers diesel technology for forklift truck systems, reach stackers, straddle carriers and container handling vehicles (so-called ro-ro, terminal and yard tractors) for engine power up to 330 kW. The transmission hardware and electronic steering complement each other perfectly, thus the ZF ERGOPOWER transmission enables smoother switching during operations – a crucial factor in the practical application of material handling equipment. ZF, therefore, supports logistics companies in moving containers and semi-trailers and loading and unloading ships.

ZF has also expanded its proven axle model ranges to include system applications in the field of material handling. The new MT-F 3000 model range will commence with two axle types, MT-F 3065 and MT-F 3070, offering tailor made technology especially for the heavy material handling market. (image 7)

Premium class: ZF cPOWER – Continuously variable transmission for material handling vehicles

With its hydrostatic-mechanical power-split transmission cPOWER (image 8), ZF has stated its position as technological leader for years. For diesel applications in heavy material handling, this “premium class” transmission ensures benefits by reducing consumption by up to 25% compared to hydrodynamic transmissions and purely hydrostatic designs. The trend towards lower engine speeds and the demand for engine stabilization through a constant speed design are the challenges the lift truck market faces. ZF's continuously variable cPOWER is the answer to these challenges: Maximum traction, excellent driving comfort and easy handling.

High loads at low speeds in combination with high dynamics are the particular requirements for off-highway machinery like material handling vehicles.

The benefits of continuously variable transmission are clear throughout the operating cycle of a working machine, i.e. during the loading and unloading and transport itself. During this process, the percentage of hydrostatic power is kept low which means that an optimal degree of efficiency is achieved. From the start-up process onwards, the majority of drive power comes from the mechanical part of the transmission. Even in very short loading cycles, the significant benefits of CVT technology in terms of fuel consumption can be observed.

Main features of ZF cPOWER:

  • Continuously variable across the whole speed range
  • Hydrostatic-mechanical power splitting in all driving ranges, including the frequently used range up to to 10 km/h
  • Reduction of diesel engine speed independent of driving speed
  • Up to 25% less consumption
  • Up to 20% more efficiency
  • Compatible for installation with ZF-ERGOPOWER


Alexander Eisner

Product Communication/Technical Press

+49 851 494-2175