Recently I was asked by a journalist what I thought of the technology available on forklift trucks today. The question wasn’t part of the interview per se and therefore we didn’t get into any great detail but it’s something I have continued to think about over the past couple of weeks.
Obviously there is a place for such technology, especially where additional measures of safety and control are required to ensure stringent H&S standards are met. But I do believe that if safety is a main driver for looking at truck technology then the solution is not going to be found solely in the latest technological gismos but by going back to training and management basics as well.
At best, training can be perceived as a grudge purchase. At worst, it’s an ‘add on’ cost that can be cut. In my opinion neither is accurate. Training is actually about getting the best from your truck and your operator in order to make the most of your investment – as safely as possible.
This argument is made all the more acute as companies continue to look for ways to truly optimise their operations in order to ensure costs are reduced, or at the very least maintained, and efficiencies are increased.
As a result I would argue that training and management should actually be moving quickly up your priority list – over and above technology. The reason for this is because technology can only go part of the way to supporting warehouse management. Yes, it can give added peace of mind but really it comes down to the operator and his sense of responsibility as to whether or not efficiency and safety remain centre stage. With the right training, knowledge and support, safety becomes an intrinsic, almost subliminal, aspect of day-to-day truck driving.
A perfect example of this is when companies move from a standard reach truck operation to an articulated, VNA solution. It’s a move that requires forklift operators to reassess the way they work and training is a fundamental aspect of facilitating that mindset shift.
Not only does the VNA layout of the warehouse maximise space, the trucks you use coupled with training will maximise your operations. Safety, as a core aspect of that training, will come to further enhance the entire process.
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