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FLT development receives an efficiency boost from new brake technology…

Global clutch and brake manufacturer Altra includes two of the markets most influential brands, Warner Electric and Matrix International.  Matrix and Warner combined account for a significant share of the market for electrical brake systems in the European fork lift truck market and are using the latest wheel brake designs and motor regeneration technology to improve performance and increase efficiency, allowing electric FLT vehicles to be faster, more flexible and more efficient to use.

As far as electric forklift and tow trucks are concerned, the market trend over the past 15 years has been towards the adoption of electromagnetic braking solutions. Hydraulic or purely mechanical braking systems are gradually being replaced by combined electromagnetic/hydraulic or fully electromagnetic systems that can be linked to other more ‘intelligent’ feedback and control devices.

The forefront of current technology, the MATRIX VARISTOP brake design

The Matrix Varistop effectively addresses the challenge of getting a truck from point- to- point as quickly as possible, with as small a turning circle as possible. It does this by taking account of how the centre of gravity changes with different loads on-board.

Varistop achieves this using variable torque braking; the torque change is stepless in order to achieve smooth operation. The change in electrical current to produce the torque can be controlled by electronics in the truck, and varied depending on the magnitude of the load and the height at which it is being carried. This allows the truck to be braked from speed to rest as quickly as possible without becoming unstable.

The future is increased efficiency

Mechanical clutch and brake plates are a wear component in any system and will require replacement, by designing the system to its optimum based on usage however, servicing intervals can be stretched to their maximum and the operator has the minimum cost of ownership.

A great example is using the electromagnetic brake as an emergency brake only, and the AC motor as a regenerative service brake. This way the majority of the every day wear-and-tear is absorbed by the motor. The friction plate will receive very little wear; as a result the brake will require very few services.

The converse aspect of this equation is balancing dynamic performance with energy efficiency; electrically operated FLTs give more service life if the electrical systems are more efficient. Via Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) control on the brakes Matrix are able to drop the holding current which helps to reduce power consumption. By designing-in electromagnetic brakes, manufacturers are able to optimize the braking and use more of the regenerative brake capacity of the motor to recharge the battery.

Designed for purpose

Dedicated engineering teams at both Matrix International and Warner Electric are there to help support the development phase. Most products are customised to meet particular OEM requirements, and brand new designs are often undertaken when a new model range requires it. The most common current solutions from Warner are as follows.

Warner traction-motor brakes
Warner Electric has developed a wide range of traction motor brakes to cover the needs of various types of truck.

The Electro-Released Dynamic brake (ERD) is designed for use in dynamic applications providing an on / off dry failsafe brake that operates from 5-1,000 Nm. With high heat dissipation capabilities and adjusting spacers, the ERD is particularly suitable for trucks that require frequent dynamic braking.

The Electro-Release hydraulic Amplified (ERDH) brake combines spring force and hydraulic force to achieve the optimal torque required for required deceleration rate and stopping distance. The major benefits are improved ergonomics and lower maintenance costs through reducing the risk of worn or flat tyres. The ERDH is particularly suitable for ride-on trucks with high load capacity, such as order pickers and pallet trucks.

The Electro-Release Bi-Functional brake (ERDHBF) which provides a hydraulic service brake combined with an electromagnetic failsafe brake is particularly suitable for reach trucks and counterbalanced trucks.

Parking and emergency brakes

The Pan-Cake [PK] range is a pre-assembled on/off dry failsafe electromagnetic brake used for parking and emergency only. In addition to the brake, an AC motor is used for regenerative braking of the truck. The low profile design is particularly suitable for back-to-back dual-drive configurations such as ride-on trucks and boom lifts.

Load and cast wheel brakes
These electromagnetic brakes are integrated in the front wheel and used in addition to the traction-motor brake. By having multiple braking points (load wheel and traction wheel); the truck is able to produce higher braking force and better stability. Controllers can monitor the braking between the AC motor and the wheel brakes to provide the benefits of higher load and speed capacity. The load wheel brakes are particularly suitable for reach trucks and very narrow aisle trucks.

Altra worldwide
Globalisation is leading to the development of more efficient and cost effective logistics platforms. With trucks being key components of platform efficiency, continuous improvement of their performance, ergonomics, safety, and reliability is essential. With experienced and dedicated R&D teams, global sales coverage, and global manufacturing capability, Altra can provide cost-effective solutions to solving truck manufacturer's challenges on a short- and long-term basis.

Picture 1 caption

Multi-plate Load Wheel Brakes such as this operate in support of regenerative braking systems used on electric Fork Lift Trucks. The Load Wheel Brake is only used for the final stage of braking enabling manufacturers to optimize braking efficiency and use more of the regenerative brake capacity of the motor to recharge the battery.


Picture 2 caption 

The Warner Electro-Released Dynamic brakes, ERD, ERDH and ERDHBF are developed alongside OEM manufacturers to optimise electric truck performance for a wide range of truck designs.


Picture 3 caption 

The Matrix Varistop brake helps to get a truck from point- to- point as quickly as possible, with as small a turning circle as possible. It does so by taking account of how the centre of gravity changes with different loads on-board and translating this to variable  torque braking; providing a smooth, safe and optimised performance. The change in electrical current to produce the torque is controlled by electronics in the truck.

Matrix International GmbH
Heinz Nürnberg

Heimradstr. 10
D – 34130 Kassel, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0) 561 67 938
Warner Electric Europe
Anthony Bouvié

Market Manager Forklift/Nordic Countries Area Manager
Åsgärdevägen 35, 12131 Enskededalen, Sweden
Tel: +46 842 038 069



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