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Changing lift truck operator behaviour

06 January 2020

Innovation is embedded within the warehousing and logistics industry, yet little has been done to innovate within forklift training. Laura Nelson, RTITB Managing Director, explains why it’s time to bring operator training into the 21st century.

Forklift operator training has been stuck in a rut. It has been principally the same for more than 20 years. For a novice, it’s a five-day training course, with three days of practical training and up to two days of theory in the classroom. It covers all the essentials for compliance, safety and skilled operation, and if you want to train a forklift driver, that’s how it has to be. Right? 

Wrong. Our work within the industry has shown us that training needs to be about far more than knowing how to manoeuvre a truck and what the right and wrong answers are on a theory paper. Yes, this is essential stuff, but when it comes to working in the real world, driver behaviour plays a hugely important part in safe and productive forklift operation. Despite this, the majority of training is not designed with behavioural change in mind so is simply not as effective as it should be.  

In addition, the attempts that have been made to innovate lift truck training with e-learning solutions have often been lacklustre and met by the industry with a suitably lukewarm reception. No matter how good the training materials are and how much paper is saved, transferring them into a PowerPoint presentation or an online quiz will only improve engagement and training effectiveness so much. 

By and large, e-learning solutions have also failed to tackle one of the most difficult challenges when it comes to lift truck operator training – time.

Reducing lift truck operator training time

One of the biggest objections that we at RTITB hear from employers when discussing operator training is time. Due to the requirement to attend a five-day course, taking operators out of work for training is a huge expense and a big challenge for many businesses for whom productivity and maximum uptime is essential. So, what do we do?

For a long time, we’ve wanted to find a solution that helps overcome the challenges around lift truck training duration, and enables us to give access to safe, effective, quality assured operator training to a wider range of industry. We knew this would need to be very different, and we also knew we would have to be extremely innovative. Our goal was to not only find a way to save time and improve training effectiveness, but to change lift truck operator training for our industry, forever.

Training through digital storytelling

The result was eTruck UK, a unique digital storytelling tool that teaches lift truck operators the reasons behind driver behaviour and why people may make bad decisions, alongside the relevant theory. This totally online system can save up to 2 days of training time per person, per course. For employers, these reduced training times help keep downtime and costs to a minimum. The system also leaves Instructors free to spend less time in the classroom and more time delivering hands-on practical training. 

eTruck UK is a totally online system, enabling candidates to complete the theory training on a computer or tablet, in the workplace or at home, before attending practical training and taking their final assessments. For a novice, this can reduce the time taken to complete counterbalance lift truck operator training from 5 days to 3 days.

With eTruck UK, candidates learn by following a story (based on real-life events) that tackles key issues relating to safety. The digital storytelling platform allows more complex themes – such as driver behaviour – to be communicated more effectively than in a classroom lecture. This training method is believed to help learners to better retain information so boost training effectiveness, giving employers reassurance that their operators are safer, and better prepared for the workplace.  

Taking training online

As an industry, we are good at exploring and adopting new technologies, and outside of work, most of us are frequently connected, using our devices to do more and more online. Video is also a favoured medium for many, particularly the millennial generation which our industry is so keen to engage with. In a recent survey 96% (https://techjury.net/stats-about/live-streaming) of people stated that they have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. So, why has none of this been taken into account and harnessed within workplace transport training? 

Combining device-based learning with video for delivering lift truck operator theory training does exactly this, playing to the learner’s existing preferences. This makes the course more interesting and engaging for trainees, as well as giving them the chance to learn online, at their own pace. We believe that approaching operator training in this way has the potential to totally transform the traditional attitude to theory training as being the ‘boring’ part of the course.

It’s time for a lift truck training revolution.

Since its launch in September 2019, hundreds have tried eTruck. This shows just how strong the demand is within the warehousing and logistics industry for a new, more engaging and more time-efficient way to train materials handling equipment operators. It proves that after around two decades of the same type operator training, it is now essential that accrediting bodies, training providers and employers innovate.  

This new offering is not just a gimmick, designed to engage trainees in the short term. It is part of RTITB’s mission to lead a digital, technology led revolution in lift truck training and is a robust, future-proof solution which will be a standard part of all lift truck operator training and testing in future. We believe that eTruck UK is the biggest step in the right direction to have been taken in a long time but there is still more to be done if we want to improve training effectiveness and boost both operator standards and safety throughout our industry.

For more information or to request a free demo license contact etruck@rtitb.com, call 01952 520207 or visit www.rtitb.com/etruck-uk

Develop Conference

RTITB will be supporting the Talent in Logistics Develop Conference in 2020. The event provides relevant CPD for in-house training teams, training providers and instructors and, this time, is focused on the future of regulatory bodies, training technologies, apprenticeships and skills requirements. The conference takes place on 22nd January 2020 at Hotel Football in Manchester.