Press Release


ZF the System Supplier for Material Handling

  • Ideally placed for a global market orientation through electric drives and steering
  • New joint venture allows ZF supply turnkey 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 lift 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 different kinds of battery technology, fuel cells or hybrid drives such as counterbalance lift trucks, seated or standing-driver equipment or walkies, 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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ZF the System Supplier for Material Handling

New joint venture allows ZF supply turnkey solutions for material handling vehicles

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

Ideally placed for global manufacture

One of the big competitive advantages which ZF offers its globally operating customers is the global setup of its production locations, the so-called ‘global footprint’. In case of material handling, with plants in Passau (Germany), Stankov (Czech Republic), Gainesville (USA), Hangzhou (China) and one scheduled for Hefei (China), ZF is close to the customers and present on a global scale. 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 drive and steering

ZF also demonstrates expertise when it comes to systems for forklift drive systems: its ZF eTRAC brand (fig 3) offers electric powered systems for 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.

ZF not only offers different alternative solutions via bespoke front and rear-wheel drive for electrical counterbalance lift trucks, but also complete installation-ready systems for all types of warehouse technology such as mobile elevating work platforms, electric tugs, cleaning vehicles, a driverless transportation system, or other special applications (spur, bevel and planetary gear systems). The ZF eSTEER EPS 3 model (fig 4) for front-drive three-wheel counterbalance lift trucks and EPS 4, the new electromechanical axle steering system (fig 5) for front-drive four-wheel counterbalance lift trucks perfects the company's portfolio.

Heavy Material Handling with ZF ERGOPOWER

ZF ERGOPOWER transmission (fig 6) offers diesel technology for lift 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. Transmission hardware and electronic steering complement each other perfectly, meaning the ZF ERGOPOWER transmission allows for smoother switching during operations – a decisive factor in the practical application of material handling equipment. ZF, therefore, supports logistics by allowing the movement of containers and semi-trailers and the loading and unloading of ships.

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

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

With its hydrostatic-mechanical power-split transmission cPOWER (fig 8), ZF has emphasized its position as technological leader for years. For diesel applications in heavy material handling, this “premium class” transmission ensures benefits in terms of consumption of up to 25 % consumption 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 across all speeds of the typical wheel loader operating cycle, i.e. during the controlled manoeuvring of the load, the positioning of transported material and transport itself. During this process, the percentage of hydrostatic power is kept low whereby an optimal degree of efficiency can be achieved.

Already in the start-up process the majority of drive power comes from the mechanical part of the transmission. Even in very short loading cycles, the benefits of CVT technology in terms of fuel consumption can be observed.

Main features of ZF cPOWER:

  • Continuously variable across the whole forward and reverse range
  • Hydrostatic-mechanical power splitting in all driving ranges, including the popular range up to 10 km/h
  • Reduction of diesel motor 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