Facility Maintenance Decisions

Utility Vehicles: Managers Must Consider Noise, Emissions Compliance

Managers specifying utility vehicles also must pay attention to a host of additional issues, including compliance with noise and emission regulations, and operator safety and ergonomics.

"One of the key issues for many customers is sound, or noise levels, and electric-powered vehicles delivers well on that," Koch says. The vehicles are quieter and produce fewer emissions than vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines.

Also, Koch says, some of his company's newer models incorporate electronic fuel injection with a catalytic converter, resulting in an 8-decibel drop in noise levels.

Manufacturers have made changes to other vehicle components in an effort to reduce noise.

"We spent a significant amount of time minimizing noise levels by optimizing exhaust outlets, reducing RPM levels, and isolating the operator from engine noise," Melka says.

While manufacturers have made numerous changes over the years to ensure the safety and comfort of operators, technology advances have created new opportunities for additional safety improvements.

For example, Breckley says his company has focused on drive-system programmability to help operators match vehicle operation to various application requirements.

"Things like forward and reverse speeds can be increased or, more often, decreased to adapt the vehicle top speed to the environment, removing the possibility of over-speeding from the operator's control," he says. "Other parameters, including acceleration rates, can be altered to reduce the aggressiveness of acceleration and deceleration.

"Regenerative braking extends the life of service brakes, and on-board diagnostics in the speed-control and charging systems provide feedback and preemptive shutdowns in unsafe conditions."

As for operator comfort, Koch says his company has looked more closely at all-terrain vehicles to identify features those vehicles use that can provide a more comfortable ride on rough terrain for operators. As a result, some new models incorporate a coil-over shock absorber suspension system and an active in-frame twister joint as a way of improving performance and operator comfort.

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  posted on 11/9/2009   Article Use Policy

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