JR Merritt

How To Choose The Best Handle For My Application?

Joystick handles, also referred to as grips, play a pivotal role as the user interface for controlling heavy equipment. To ensure optimal performance and durability, careful consideration of various factors is essential when selecting the appropriate joystick handle for your application. To help make an informed choice that aligns with the unique requirements of your application, here are some features to explore when choosing a handle model from J.R. Merritt Controls. 

Size and Shape: Joystick handles come in diverse sizes and shapes, intended to match different heavy equipment applications and operator preferences. First, identify the handle size based on whether you need a handle small enough to be operated with fingertips or a complete hand. Fine movements or applications requiring extreme precision can benefit from finger-operated or smaller joystick handles and are typically less stressful on the operator. 

Hand-sized grips are ideal when a larger range of motion and the option for multiple functions on the handle are desired. From fighter grips to rocker handles, a variety of shapes and designs are available to suit your intended operation and to provide comfort for operators. Contoured handles, leaning forward or side to side, offer benefits such as improved comfort and intuitive control for both left-hand and right-hand users. Ambidextrous or straight up-and-down type handles are also suitable for left or right-handed operators.

Before choosing a style, consider where the joystick will be mounted in relation to the operator. Joysticks in chair systems with left and right-hand placed controls can benefit from left-hand and right-hand style handles, while control panels or belly boxes are best suited with an ambidextrous grip. Additionally, be mindful of the space surrounding the joystick and the potential for the handle to bump into other devices or objects when the joystick is being operated. Reviewing the degree of travel for the joystick model along with the handle size (height and width) will be the most effective way to confirm if you have any restrictions within the console or panel where the joystick will be mounted.

Functions and Options: When evaluating joystick handles, it is important to identify the number of functions and type of devices you want at the operator's fingertips. Consider actions that will be operated frequently to make work intuitive for the user and not require them to take their hand(s) off the joysticks to engage key functions. Choose a variety of handle devices like push buttons, thumbwheels, rocker switches, triggers, and mini joysticks, as well as functionality like haptic feedback, twist, and capacitive sensors. J.R. Merritt is also beginning to experiment with the integration of LCD screens into joystick handles to display key info formation to the operator.

The total number of devices identified to be built into the handle will guide you toward the style of the handle needed. If your operation requires 6 or more buttons, a top consideration should be a multi-function handle like a fighter grip. Fighter grip handles can accommodate numerous handle functions with placement options in the front, rear, and in some cases on the side. Avoid over-populating the handle with devices to prevent confusion and potential errors during operation. 

Beyond the quantity and types of devices for the handle, consider the placement of these items within the handle. Placing the most frequently used devices closest to the thumb or index finger will make for an intuitive operation, allowing the operator to effectively and efficiently operate the equipment.

Safety: Safety features are paramount in industrial settings, and joystick handles can be equipped with measures to enhance operator and work safety. Depending on the intended task, consider incorporating operator presence switches, such as triggers or capacitive sensors, to prevent accidental machine activations. Some handles, such as the BH handle, are available with an optional guard to protect the operator's presence switch from inadvertent operation. 

Mechanical interlock is also available with certain handle models, keeping the joystick 100% fixed until a mechanical collar is pulled up. Implementing safety features protects against unintended movements and enhances overall workplace safety.

Application-Specific Models: Take into account the unique requirements of your heavy equipment application when selecting a joystick handle, as some handles are designed for specific types of operation styles. For example, T-handles are designed specifically for use in throttle control applications, offering a comfortable grip with contours for easy control and the option to include push button functions. Outside of throttle applications, the T-style handle can be used for any single-axis operation, such as a crane hoist.

In conclusion, joystick handles are integral components in heavy equipment machinery. The design features of joystick handles can vary depending on the intended use and the specific needs of the equipment. By carefully considering these factors, such as shape, size, functions, safety features, and application-specific requirements, you can select a joystick handle that meets the functional requirements of your heavy equipment, enhancing the overall operator experience and productivity. J.R. Merritt Controls offers a range of high-quality joystick handles, ensuring equipment manufacturers can find a handle that aligns with the unique demands of their industrial setting or heavy equipment.

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