By: Jack Kaumo, director of iWAREHOUSE technology solutions at The Raymond Corporation
June is National Safety Month, which makes it the perfect time to promote effective warehouse practices. Instilling a culture of continuous improvement through the optimization of data, people and processes is essential for companies to operate with maximum efficiency and minimal incidents. Utilizing proven instruction methods that teach correct behaviors even before operators reach the warehouse is essential in creating a work environment with everyone’s well-being in mind, as well as encouraging a culture of continuous improvement. On top of implementing vigorous training methods, there’s a few things you can do to keep your warehouse running without incident.
Operator best practices
Everyone in your facility is responsible for creating a reliable work environment. As a forklift operator, there are a few things you can do to make sure you and pedestrians can operate efficiently and effectively.
- Operators should give pedestrians the right of way, even if pedestrians are crossing outside of designated walkways. It is important to be attentive and give pedestrians the right of way in all cases.
- Operators should also keep a distance between their truck and pedestrians. Leaving sufficient room gives everyone in the facility space to perform the tasks necessary to keep an operation running.
- It is also important for operators to always look in the direction they’re traveling and stay focused on what’s in their path. By making themselves known to the pedestrians and regularly stopping to press the horn when approaching an intersection, crosswalk or exiting an aisle, operators can become better stewards of sound practices in a facility.
Pedestrian best practices
Designated pedestrian walkways are the best place for on-foot workers to make their way across the warehouse. Keeping aisles and driving lanes clear will not only reduce incidents but also boost productivity by allowing fewer work interruptions.
Be sure to stop, listen and look for oncoming traffic just like you would when crossing a busy street. Be aware of your surroundings and check for trucks if you need to cross an aisle or lane. Make yourself known on the floor by making eye contact with drivers. It is important to make eye contact with oncoming operators to ensure they know you are in their vicinity. Lift trucks cannot stop immediately, so try to give forklifts adequate time to stop for you by making your presence known. When on the warehouse floor, keep in mind it takes a lift truck an average of 16 feet to come to a complete stop. Lastly, stand clear of lift trucks that are operating. This not only ensures pedestrian well-being but also keeps the operation productive and efficient.
Utilizing technology in operational instruction
New advancements, such as e-learning and virtual reality instruction, have been revolutionary tools for instruction in material handling operations.
E-learning is a great, cost-effective way to educate employees and reinforce desired behaviors. One of the key benefits of e-learning is its quick information delivery, speeding up the learning process. The experience can be personalized to each employee’s needs, giving operations real-time feedback and actionable data on an individual’s performance.
A virtual reality simulator can offer a unique, engaging tool that functions as a more effective learning experience for students and a more efficient teaching tool for instructors. Users enter a simulated warehousing environment on a real forklift truck. This capability also eliminates the need to purchase additional trucks to be used specifically for instruction and increases operators’ proficiency level by learning on the actual truck they’ll be using on the floor. Virtual reality instructional tools attract new talent to the industry and help ensure lift truck operators are coached more quickly and confidently before reaching the warehouse floor.
Customers are regularly looking for better visibility into their operations, including fleet utilization and operator behavior. Telematics and integrated intralogistics solutions can provide valuable information to help operations increase productivity by: identifying inefficient asset allocations, providing visibility into operator behavior, and giving managers a tool that can “see” all over the warehouse so they can reinforce proper behaviors. Advanced technologies like telematics allows operations to connect and communicate directly with their fleet, assets, and workforce, resulting in streamlined processes to identify areas for potential improvement.
As a whole, it’s important to keep the well-being of your staff top of mind. A good measure of success in achieving a safety culture is when everyone in a facility supports and reinforces the proper expected behaviors. Leveraging proper instructional techniques and intralogistics solutions in a facility can help operations instill a culture of continuous improvement and keeps employees thinking about the best ways they can support each other.