A focus on safe material flow
Safety in operations is gaining increasing attention these days. Potential risks associated specifically with warehouses and production areas are becoming especially apparent at times when goods handling is extremely busy. Accidents can happen quickly. But companies do not have to sit back and watch helplessly. There is now a wide variety of passive and active assistance systems available that are designed to ensure a high level of operational safety. One of the latest examples in this regard is the Linde Motion Detection warning and protection system. Sensor-based, it is capable of detecting movement behind a stationary truck and can thus prevent accidents involving people and other industrial trucks. The system is yet another addition to the growing portfolio of safety solutions from Linde Material Handling (MH).
Specific potential hazards and accidents exist in any production and warehouse environment. Accordingly, it is one of the most important tasks of businesses, regardless of the industry, to ensure the highest possible level of operational safety. After all, the consequences of accidents in the workplace can be serious – and every accident is one accident too many. In addition to personal suffering, an accident is associated with downtime, disruptions to operations and damage to goods, as well as consequential expenses and loss of productivity. Last but not least, those responsible also have to fear legal consequences if something happens. That’s why hazard reduction and accident prevention are top priorities for many companies.
Forklift operations: A constant source of danger
There are numerous potential sources of danger in day-to-day warehouse and production operations, including forklifts, pallet trucks and other industrial trucks as well as material transport equipment. It is not uncommon for a forklift driver to lose control of their vehicle and for them or another person to be knocked down, crushed or run over by a forklift. Other frequent incidents in industrial truck operations happen when the driver gets on or off the truck, during fast turns or while driving with the load lifted.
Reversing: Accident hazard due to time pressure, excessive workload and multi-tasking
It happens time and again that people walking around the warehouse are under the impression that forklift drivers can always see them – something that can have tragic consequences and has therefore increasingly become the focus of the safety experts at Linde MH in recent years. This has resulted in the development of the new Linde Motion Detection assistance system for counterbalanced trucks. It warns forklift operators and people in the vicinity if the truck reverses and any person or other vehicle is present in the work area. A sensor reliably detects any movement behind the stationary vehicle, regardless of the prevailing lighting conditions – and irrespective of whether it is triggered by people or other vehicles. Upon the detection of movement, the system automatically prevents or stops the reversing of the approaching truck and alerts the operator via a display. In addition, the assistance system optionally triggers an acoustic alarm to make passers-by aware of the dangerous situation that has arisen and provide learning effects for everyone involved. The operator is allowed to continue driving only after they have actively returned the accelerator pedal to its initial position, which further increases safety.
Linde Motion Detection: Relief for drivers in critical situations
The critical situations described in the interaction between forklift drivers and pedestrians arise, for example, when storing and retrieving or picking up and setting down loads. While concentrating on the load to be moved, forklift drivers may not be aware of pedestrians or other vehicles behind them. If time pressure is added to this or the driver's mind is not fully on the job, the risk of such incidents increases. Additional factors include challenging work environments such as poorly lit warehouse sections or narrow aisles that are difficult to see. In response to this, the Linde Motion Detection system provides flexibility by way of the option to adapt the detection range to the respective operating and ambient conditions; unlike conventional reversing warning systems, the acoustic signal only sounds in the event of an acute hazardous situation. The assistance system is also available as a retrofit solution so that existing fleets can be equipped with it as well.
An intelligent passenger that increases safety: Linde Safety Pilot
In order to achieve the highest possible level of protection for all those working in warehouse and production environments, however, it is usually necessary to adjust various parameters. That is why the portfolio of safety solutions at Linde MH has grown steadily in recent years. Another example in this regard is the Linde Safety Pilot, a solution for preventing tipping accidents that is unique in the industry. Many experts are aware of the dilemma associated with transporting frequently changing loads: The driver does not know the respective load weight and the load’s center of gravity and thus cannot determine beyond doubt how high they can safely lift it. It is therefore not uncommon for the operator to make a decision based on assumption and risk the truck tipping over. The Linde Safety Pilot is a helpful passenger in such situations: Both the Active and Select versions of the assistance system feature sensors that measure the lift height, fork tilt and load weight at various points on the vehicle. This data is displayed on a monitor in the driver’s cab. Therefore, the driver no longer has to estimate the weight of the goods to be transported and is enabled to keep the driving style and lift height within a safe range. If the driver fails to do so and a critical driving condition is reached, the color of the LSP monitor changes – initially to orange, then to red, and an acoustic warning signal sounds. The Active LSP version goes one step further, preventing additional operational error by having the vehicle control system actively intervene to bring the truck back to a safe state and not allow any further lifting or tilting of the forks.
Concrete and pinpoint alerts triggered by the Linde Safety Guard
The Linde Safety Guard assistance system is designed to deal with yet another hazard scenario: the close interaction between people and vehicles that often prevails in day-to-day industrial operations. This includes, for example, people walking carelessly through doors and into the driver’s path, thus risking a collision. In these cases, the Linde Safety Guard warns people and forklift drivers of each other’s presence at an early stage. The concept is based on localization using ultra-wideband technology and operates with an accuracy of up to ten centimeters. It consists of a truck unit – a compact module permanently installed on the vehicle – which communicates with a portable unit for pedestrians to attach to their clothing with a clip. If a forklift truck comes close, the person is warned acoustically, visually and by means of vibration. In addition, the forklift driver is shown via his display how many people there are in the warning zone and from which direction they are approaching the vehicle. The radio waves in the high-frequency range pass through walls, shelves and gates and sound the alarm even before a door is opened.
The Zone Intelligence assistance system is based on the same technology. Here, fleet operators define specific zones in warehouse and production areas within which the speed of the vehicles is automatically slowed down. Wideband radio signals in the 4-gigahertz range are exchanged between permanently installed sensors and the vehicle sensor. The fleet manager uses hall or plant maps to define the various zones. With software support, the zones are configured and then specific parameters assigned to them. The focus is on four areas of application: First, selective speed adjustment when the truck approaches a location identified as critical – for example, blind corners, crosswalks or intersections that pose a potential hazard in general. Secondly, area-based speed adjustment is possible for zones where, for example, people are frequently on the move. The third application is at rolling gates or on driving routes and the fourth controls speed when driving on uneven surfaces.
Attention, forklift approaching: Warning signs on the ground
However, it doesn’t always take an assistance system to improve safety in materials handling. Lighting solutions are another option. One of these is the Linde Truck Spot. With this spotlight, forklifts and other industrial trucks are always equipped with a warning signal when reversing. Mounted on the overhead guard frame, it projects a visual warning onto the ground behind the vehicle. Approaching pedestrians and other vehicles are given the unmistakable message via the large-format LED symbol in strong contrasting colors: Look out! Here comes a forklift.
Conclusion: Safety pays off for many reasons
The issues of occupational health and safety are top priorities for many companies. Operators of intralogistics systems can plan and implement both of them appropriately and effectively in their day-to-day work. Various protection and assistance systems are available for this purpose, which can be utilized in a user-oriented fashion and thus enable safe and efficient warehouse logistics to be achieved. Linde Material Handling offers an extensive portfolio of solutions for fleet operators in a wide variety of industries. With the Linde Safety Guard, Linde Safety Pilot and, more recently, Linde Motion Detection, they can effectively protect their employees from accidents in production and logistics environments.
Author: Fabian Zimmermann, Product Manager Safety Solutions at Linde Material Handling.
Linde Material Handling GmbH
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Linde Material Handling GmbH
Linde Material Handling GmbH, a KION Group company, is a globally operating manufacturer of forklift trucks and warehouse trucks, and a solutions and service provider for intralogistics. With a sales and service network that spans more than 100 countries, the company is represented in all major regions around the world.