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No need for trade offs

09 February 2021

Playing it safe doesn’t have to slow us down, explains Linde Material Handling UK product manager David Bowen who outlines how enhanced safety features can boost efficiency and productivity.

THERE'S AN outdated perception that safety comes from doing everything very slowly. While there may have been some truth to that in the past, advances in safety technology mean that safety and productivity now go hand-in-hand. 

At Linde Material Handling, our safety technology is about making life easier and safer for the operators and the people working around them. The operator is still responsible for the safe operating of their forklift, but there are additional measures in place to assist them in maintaining safe operation. When operators know that their truck is working safely, it frees up headspace for them to operate the truck more effectively and efficiently.

It goes without saying that accidents can have a huge impact on productivity. Injured warehouse employees, lost stock and damage to trucks and buildings can all lead to significant amounts of unplanned downtime that many operations can’t afford. A large proportion of forklift accidents are caused by trucks tipping when operators try to take corners too quickly. We introduced Linde Curve Control on our engine and electric trucks to help reduce the risk of these accidents happening. The truck slows down automatically when steering lock is applied, so operators take corners at the right speed and accidents are avoided. 

55.3% of all truck and pedestrian accidents happen when a truck is reversing (BGHW, 2014). It’s one area where adopting enhanced safety technology can go a long way to reducing the risk of accidents and injury and help all employees to feel more comfortable at work. The Safety Reversing System is something we developed specifically for the brick and block industry but is now widely available across the Linde range. It uses ultrasonic sensors to detect any items behind the truck and slows down to a creep speed when it senses an obstacle. The Linde Motion Detection System does a similar job using radar – pedestrians wear sensors which are detected by the radar causing the truck to slow down. 

Handling loads is another area where features to increase safety can also aid productivity. Linde Load Assist enables operators to easily assess whether or not a load is a safe weight for their truck without having to leave the truck. Building on this, Linde Safety Pilot uses a sensor on the back axel of the truck to assess not only the weight of each load, but also where its centre of gravity is for optimum security and safety. This system is particularly important when the operator is handling a wide variety of loads from large but light to small but very heavy. From there, if a load is beyond the safe working parameters of the truck, Linde Safety Pilot can either alert the operator passively, with a warning light in the truck display, or actively – for example by interceding to reduce tilt or lifting speed  or stop the function entirely. 

Reach trucks pose their own challenges when it comes to safety. It’s vital that operators can see where the forks of the truck are in relation to each pallet to ensure accuracy and avoid accidents which could damage racking and stock, or cause injury to pedestrians working below. At the same time, operators need to be aware of what’s happening on the ground around the truck. Trying to do both at the same time not only divides their concentration, it’s also likely to slow them down. Our solution, the Linde Vision System, uses two cameras – one on the overhead guard and one on the carriage – to give the operator both an overall view of what’s happening around them and a more detailed view of the pallet so they stack and retrieve loads safely. We have also introduced a new Vertilight system which illuminates a wide area up and down racking, improving overall visibility substantially. 

The right lighting systems can help to improve productivity and create a safer working environment for both operators – by making them feel more comfortable operating the truck – and pedestrians who are more able to see trucks coming and tell which direction they’re going in, and therefore move more freely around their workspace. Linde Lighting Stripes are LED strips on the front and back of the truck which link to traction control and change colour depending on which direction the truck is going in, with white to the ‘front’ and red at the ‘back’, so pedestrians can easily see whether or not a truck is heading towards them. Boundary lights, Linde Blue Spot and Truck Spot are all easy and effective ways of communicating to pedestrians when they might be too close to a truck, or when a truck is coming towards them before they see the truck itself.

All of these safety features are designed to make our customers’ lives easier and safer. If they slowed down operations, they wouldn’t be doing their job. The idea is for safety to be built in and used in such a way that it becomes habit – like putting on your seatbelt when you get into your car. And by providing that extra layer of support for operators and additional visibility for pedestrians, you can absolutely increase efficiency and productivity as well. 

For more information, visit www.linde-mh.com/en