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While the average working-life of a forklift truck is about 15 years, Ball Tec Co., Ltd in Hikone city, Shiga prefecture Japan is still using the 5LR model Toyota Forklift Truck made in 1967. While giving an indication of how strong the 5LR is, in these times when environmental issues are important, it also reminds us of the importance of using a machine for a long period of time.
Established in 1976 as a subsidiary of Hirose Valve Industry Co., Ltd. (then Zex Machinery) Ball Tec is involved in the development of hydraulic ball valves. Hirose Valve Industry Co., Ltd. purchased the 5LR in 1968, with Ball Tec taking possession in 1976.
Managing Director of Hirose Valves, Mr. Isoshima is also the supervisor of the plant. He knows the workings of the 5LR since it's purchase well. "We fully operated the machine every day for the first eight years since Hirose Valves purchased it. I often operated the machine at that time also, using it to move 10-ton batches of valves, etc around the storeroom. It worked very hard."
"Since being taken over by Ball Tech it's use has been cut back to an hour a day. Even so, it's an extremely tough forklift truck that has never broken down in 35 years. Although we haven't done anything special to it in that time, I would say that the careful care and attention given to it by Toyota, including regular services, would be one reason for it's long life."
At the time the 5LR model attracted great attention, as it was equipped with features far beyond those standard for other domestic forklift trucks, helping Toyoda Automatic Loom Works (now Toyota Industries Corporation) to top the domestic sales share.
"The changing times have brought great advances in forklift trucks. The basic features of the 5LR have made it almost obsolete compared with recent models. It is very easy to operate. Together Ball Tec and Hirose Valves employ some 150 people, with almost all of them having operated the 5LR. The machine has a special place in everyone's heart, including myself. I don't know how much longer we can continue to use it, but we will as long as it doesn't breakdown and cease operating."
The 5LR currently carries out all movement of heavy materials at the company. As when it was first bought, the expectations for hard work remain.
With the cooperation of Ball Tec Co. Ltd.
638-8 Nodayama-cho, Hikone-shi, Shiga Prefecture