Forklift Occupancy Detection

FlexiForce sensors are integrated into forklift seats to ensure occupancy detection and to enforce safety regulations on the industrial floor. 

Ensuring Safety with Force Sensing Controls

Background: According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Association, each year there are roughly 85 forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries. Numerous safety regulations are put in place on an industrial floor to ensure worker protection and create a safe work environment. Forklifts and motorized hand trucks are highly regulated pieces of equipment that must meet standard safety requirements set by individual companies and OSHA.

Challenge: Dysfunctional or mishandled industrial vehicles can lead to accidents on the floor resulting in injury and loss. Tekscan Inc. was approached by a forklift manufacturer looking to design a vehicle with occupancy detection to ensure safety on their floor. The manufacturer was looking for a low cost solution they could easily integrate that would detect if an operator was present.

Solution: The company designed FlexiForce™ ESS301 sensors into their forklift seats. They were also interested in designing the sensor into the hand controls of their motorized hand trucks. The ESS301 is a durable sensor fit for applications exposed to high temperature and humidity; ideal for an industrial setting. The company used FlexiForce because the sensor can measure variable force, which can be set to trigger an action upon measuring a certain threshold. The company calibrated the sensor to a specific weight value, so that once this value was met, the forklift would recognize an operator was present.

If a body was detected in the forklift's seat, the machine would be able to start. If no body weight was detected, the machine would stop. The company integrated the sensors into their seat and used their own electronics to create a smart machine. This function helps prevent accidents, and ensures that the vehicle is in a stand still until someone is actually controlling it.

Paulausky, C. (2013, September 1). Death by Forklift is Really the PITs. Retrieved from Occupational Health & Safety website:

Benefits of FlexiForce™ Sensors

  • Ultra-thin sensor construction and flexibility means minimal interference/disturbance to normal action
  • Accurate response gives your customers and end users confidence in the performance of your product
  • Knowledgeable, experienced technical staff help you develop the most effective, economical sensor based on your specific requirements. All manufacturing takes place at ISO 9001 compliant & 13485 registered Tekscan headquarters.
  • 100% factory inspection ensures your sensors meet established performance specifications

Getting Started with FlexiForce Sensors

FlexiForce sensors are available off-the-shelf in packs of four or eight for testing and prototyping. Visit our online store to place an order, or contact us to discuss customization options with one of our engineers.