sumoglove.jpgSumoGlove, the innovative fork tip impact reduction system, has recently been at the centre of a major safety improvement project by Kodak at their lithographic plate plant in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The Kodak plant manufactures lithographic plates for the printing industry, producing approximately 28 million m2 per year, which is shipped worldwide.

As part of Kodak’s Six Sigma Greenbelt training at the site their Health & Safety Officer, Roger Rustom MIIRSM, undertook a safety improvement project looking specifically at damage caused by forklift trucks. This was the first safety-oriented Greenbelt project Kodak had undertaken, and the aim of the project was to create a safer working environment as well as minimising loss due to unnecessary damage.

Roger Rustom commented: “Following an extensive study between 2007/2008 into the recorded safety incidents and the scrap reports, as well as discussions with the forklift truck operators, we determined that significant savings could be made by reducing the number of incidents involving forklift tip damage to the lithographic plates.

“Next, we raised the awareness of forklift truck related incidents throughout the staff by team briefs, brainstorming/try-storming sessions, one to one training and personal safety audits. One of the main theories was, if there were a significant amount of product on the shop floor waiting to be processed, this would be a major contributing factor to the level of damage.”

“However counterintuitive it may seem, this was not the case. It was in fact the distance between each pallet that was critical. Being too close dramatically increased the chance that fork tip damage would occur.

“We then went looking for possible solutions, and identified the SumoGlove fork tip impact reduction system as the most proactive and cost effective way to reduce the damage, as well as offering the potential to reduce the severity of injury to personnel.”

After Kodak enlisted the help of the manufacturer of the SumoGlove Impact Reduction System, the initial trial in August 2008 involved two Jungheinrich reach trucks being fitted with Sumo Gloves. Since then, Roger Rustom says there have been no reported incidents of product damage in the area where these forklift trucks operate. Due to the overwhelming success of the trial, the remaining suitable trucks are being fitted with the SumoGlove Impact Reduction System.

Forklift operator behaviour has changed in a positive way as the SumoGloves cause the operator to be more aware of the tips, especially in low light areas and enable them to judge fork positions more accurately when placing or pulling loads in the warehouse racking. Incidents involving damage to plates have been reduced by over 80% with only 20% of the fleet fitted.

This equates to a minimum saving of £15,000 and more than 9500m2 of plates remaining in perfect condition. Intangible costs including, rework, investigation time and part-loaded vehicles are also greatly reduced.

Roger Rustom concludes: “Due to the success of the trial area, we will be fitting SumoGlove fork tip protectors to all 12 suitable forklift trucks within the Leeds manufacturing plant and we will be recommending that they be fitted to all appropriate forklift trucks within the Kodak Corporation.”

Simon Ross, Managing Director of Sumo, says: “We are delighted that SumoGlove has passed such a rigorous test and has received this recognition from such an important company as Kodak. In these current times it is reassuring to be able to offer all forklift users a product which gives immediate and effective savings through damage reduction, enabling users to become more productive and in turn more profitable.”

For more information about Sumo Glove, go to or call sales on 01482 654466