Getting a handle on choosing the most reliable joystick for highly demanding off-highway applications requires a lot of careful consideration. In part 1 of this series, we explored key considerations, including function, application and space. Now it’s time to dive further.
Protect Against the Environment
Wherever your off-highway / construction machinery is headed, the environment and the elements will need to be taken into consideration. Adequate gasketing and sealing is essential in components used for off-highway equipment; joysticks, handles and handle devices are no exception. Choose a joystick/handle that employs sufficient protection against ingress of rain, dust, dirt, salt and other environmental contamination that would otherwise lead to premature failure.
Don’t Forget the Operator
Select a handle that meets the operator’s comfort requirements. Consider if a hand support is necessary, and ensure that the handle comfortably fits all of the control devices required and supports intuitive operation. J.R. Merritt offers a large variety of control handles and configurations. This comprehensive handle range affords our customers enormous flexibility in selecting size, shape and functionality.
Perhaps equally important as the physical properties of the joystick and handle is whether or not you are taking the equipment operator’s preferences into consideration. Whenever possible, the operator should be interviewed early in the decision-making process to ensure that they are happy with the style of joystick/handle and the options that are available.
You should also take the operator’s style into consideration. Are they heavy-handed or do they exhibit more finesse with the equipment?
Once you have selected the best joystick for the job, there are placement issues that must be considered when designing systems for mobile equipment. Make sure that the joystick location allows for adequate hand and knuckle clearance during operation. Restricting this clearance/space could potentially create a stressful operating position for the operator.
Industrial joysticks are typically robust and rugged, but are not designed to withstand a person’s body weight. Avoid placement that is easily accessible to the doorway, where the operator could be tempted to use the handle to pull him/herself into the cabin. In addition, one must be wary of placing the joystick anywhere that could result in inadvertent machine operation.