Boy, am I so glad that I grew up in the 80’s. You can say a lot of good things about the advancements in technology but, pre-tech people have an experience that cannot be discounted. Admittedly, I do not spend much time with younger people but somehow, the world just seems duller than it used to be. It seems as if people no longer know how to do as much stuff as before, like skills have been lost due to de-industrialization or something. Sure, people have more knowledge readily available to them than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a “well-rounded” person. We were made to do stuff, not just know stuff. Stuff with our hands and bodies in concert with our brains. They have done studies that show intelligence is not only developed from cognitive processes alone but physical exertion as well. We have yet to understand physiological phenomenon like genetic memory, how nature affects one’s emotional health and physical exercise improving brain function. Doesn’t it just make sense that we need to work with our bodies in addition to our minds to be both smart and healthy. We seemed to have lost some of that along the Super Highway of “progress”.
The “truck” pictured above is my all time favorite, it was built around 1998 or so. I have jumped on other Crown manufactured trucks that were built after this one, but they just didn’t have the spirit of the one pictured above. For those who are not familiar with what a “Reach Truck” or Industrial Stand Up Truck is, here is a quick explanation.
Industrial trucks usually refer to operator driven motorized warehouse vehicles, powered manually, by gasoline, propane or electrically. Industrial trucks assist the material-handling system with versatility; they can go where engineered systems cannot. Forklift trucks are the most common example of industrial trucks but certainly aren’t the extent of the category. Tow tractors and stock chasers are additional examples of industrial trucks. Their greatest advantage lies in the wide range of attachments available; these increase the truck ability to handle various types and shapes of material.
Reach truck – variant on a Rider Stacker forklift, designed for small aisles, usually Electrically Powered, named because the forks can extend to reach the load. There are two variants, moving carriage, which are common in North America, and moving mast which are common in the rest of the world, and generally regarded as safer.
Crown RR 5000 Series
The 5000 series was a radical departure from existing products. The RR’s design significantly improved, operator comfort and visibility while establishing a bold new appearance.
Conceived as a product platform, the RR 5000 family encompasses a range of products that share common components. The most innovative model, the 5000s, features a re-configurable operator support system that allows operators to stand, lean or sit while driving. With the launch of the RR 5000 series Crown reversed market share erosion and established a new standard in comfort, safety and ease of use in this category of industrial vehicles.
The RR 5000 has received considerable industry recognition including; Multiple IDEA Awards, an iF Product Design Award, Red Dot Award for Product Design, Good Design Award, ID Magazine Award and the Alexander C. Williams Human Factors and Ergonomics Society award.
My personal story with this truck…
The Crown RR 5000 was not the first stand up reach truck that I operated. The first one that I learned to operate was a Toyota and it absolutely, positively SUCKED. Paradoxically, Toyota makes THE BEST sit down propane powered forklifts, but their stand up reaches suck ass. It never ceased to amaze me how a company that made such great automobiles and forklifts could get stand ups so wrong.
Their forklifts were a dream to operate and “drove” like little sports cars. People would actually get banned from them because they were so fast and handled so well that you could not resist speeding and doing “tricks”. People would do burn outs, skids, bounce the front and back wheels, ride on two wheels, spin in a circle like an amusement ride etc. THOSE THINGS WERE SO MUCH FUN! And then, you had the Toyota Reach Trucks. YUCK.
Everyone hated those lemons so much that they would just stay parked in the corner all day, only the supervisors would use them when absolutely necessary. They had no speed, turned like the Titanic, felt very unstable, had clunky controls and actually felt like they might rattle apart. Terrible, real pains to operate. They broke down a lot too, the boss finally got rid of them.
Next up from the Toys were the Raymonds. Some people liked them, some didn’t. I was one of those that did not like the Raymond Reach Trucks. First of all, I didn’t like the color (red) and thought they were ugly. Second, they had clunky controls too. They were only slightly faster than the Toyota’s but did feel solid although, they had a mind of their own. They would do things without you initiating it. I didn’t like that because it made me nervous. Sometimes the brakes wouldn’t engage right away. Other times the throttle would lag before engaging. Sometimes, they would dart off in “Jack Rabbit” mode even though you had not selected it. To be fair, the Crowns shared some of these problems too but, I loved them so much I didn’t care.
When I first laid eyes on the Crown Reach Truck I was working for a temporary agency that provided temps for warehouse and light industrial. I got an assignment as a certified forklift operator in a brand new warehouse located in Hayward, California. I feel bad about it now because we took such advantage of the employer, they didn’t have their act together. Really, it wasn’t exactly our faults that they had messed up their inventory and for an entire two weeks all we had to do was report for eight hours and do nothing but, I still felt bad. So, I would get there and just hop on my Crown Reach, arrange some pallets into an enclosure and like a spider, back into it and bury myself with merchandise. You could see neither me nor the truck in there, eating snacks and pondering the universe. Never had a job like that before nor since. They were scared to send us home because they might not be able to get truck operators on short notice again, a real problem if and when the big rigs showed up. It was cheaper to pay us than to pay a trucking company to let its trailers sit on the docks. Ergo, we got paid to do nothing for eight hours, for two whole weeks.
Anyway, I was happy to just sit in my Crown Truck, I was in love with the thing. I’m not kidding, I was really and truly in love.
These trucks were brand spanking new, not a scratch on them. They even had that new car smell! As you can see for yourself, they are pretty too. Now let me tell you how they handle. QUIET, like the sweet whisper of a lover’s pillow talk. ZZZ, ZZZ, ZZZ… is the only sound they made, no rattles, no squeaks, just solid and precise control. Think about doing something and the truck reads your mind, before you finish the thought it is already done. Fast? Let me tell you about fast. These things were Nitro powered, nimble as a sprint car. Smooth, quiet and POWERFUL. So powerful. Like Billy Dee used to say “don’t let the smooth taste fool you!”
I made the mistake one day of not clearing the tip of my fork from under one of the other trucks, I actually had it under it. Checking the controls, I pulled upward on the joystick which extends the mast skyward with the fork blades. The perfect girlfriend, I mean truck, just did what I had asked her to do and without any noticeable strain nor protest, lifted her blades obediently. So smooth and powerful was she that it took me a while to see that something was not quite right. She hadn’t offered any clue of what was wrong, everything seemed fine except that, I saw something strand in front of me and the truck.
Upon closer examination, I slowly came to the realization that the other truck still parked in it’s docking bay, was inexplicably broken. It was leaning way over on its side! I stared at it wondering how in the hell it got that way. I kept looking and looking, trying to figure it out but was stumped. What was it sitting on?? After a full two minutes it finally dawned on me that a fork blade was underneath it holding it almost completely off the ground. “How the heck did that happen?” I asked myself, so I traced where the blade was coming from. You know what? The blade holding up the other truck was coming from my truck! Holy crap!
I was amazed and profoundly embarrassed at the same time, I had just almost tipped over a brand new beautiful truck due to stupidity and a lack of respect for their power. These trucks weigh the equivalent of three small cars or, six thousand pounds. My truck had effortlessly raised six thousand pounds of steel straight up into the air without so much as even a hiccup, so quickly and so smoothly that I hadn’t even noticed. I gently lowered my forks back down and the six thousand pound beauty came down with them. For all the world it felt like the truck may as well have been handling nothing but air, you could not tell that this thing had just hoisted six thousand pounds skyward very quickly, and then ever so gently let it down again. These trucks are amazing.
To test out just how nimble these trucks were, I experimented with moving fragile things. I’m sure you could pick up an egg without breaking it and then turn right around and flatten a building. These trucks were super powerful, super dexterous and super smooth. It was then that I understood that if autonomous robots were ever made like this, humanity didn’t stand a chance. I had immense respect for my truck after that.
Towards the end of our assignment, we got so good with the trucks that we would have races and contests. The brake pedal is on the floor and very exact compared to other trucks. We would go running full speed into the charging stations and then slam on the brakes full skid. Sometimes we would do that to each other out on the warehouse floor and slide into each other. BAM! Bad thing to do but really fun. Amazing no one lost any limbs. When I first got there, I almost ran into another co-worker and he got really mad, he said “Thank you buddy” very sarcastically after that, every time he saw me for the rest of the night. Years later I ran into him selling guns at a gun show, he still hated me after all those years. 🙂
If you’ve never operated one of these, you would be surprised how intuitive they are. Anyone can jump on one and by the end of the day be competent. To get really good with them though, you really need to enjoy and play with them. People thought that I had been operating them for years when I actually only had a couple of weeks experience. The warehouse supervisor offered me a permanent job but I turned him down, I was having too much fun temping.
When you are a temporary worker, you get to do many different jobs at many different places. IT IS SO MUCH FUN. You learn so much, see so much, work when you want and not work when you don’t want to. I LOVED BEING A TEMPORARY WORKER. Best work experience of my life and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Yes, I’m still in love with those Crown Reach Trucks and if I were wealthy, I would buy one just to play with. Sadly, I fear that the job title of “Warehouseman” and “Forklift Operator” are soon to be anachronisms, obsolete vocations felled by automation. Amazon already has robot order pickers and inventory systems, no humans needed. Thats why I say, this newer generation has many technological advantages but may have lost some things perhaps even more important. Those things would be the satisfaction and personal enrichment of being a human being who is both needed as well as indispensable.