How Warehouse and Forklifts Can Adapt to the Challenges of COVID-19

How Warehouse and Forklifts Can Adapt to the Challenges of COVID-19

For many, the current pandemic has been a challenge to say the least. Whether it’s finding alternative work processes, finding work or actually battling the disease, a whole host of people and places have felt the strain.

Warehouses and forklifts have not been exempt. Perhaps somewhat luckily, especially considering the greater implications, some warehouses have needed to ramp up production lines.

Although some retailers have fallen on hard times, Amazon, ASOS and a great number of online retailers witnessed soaring profits.

Dealing with Increased Demand During a Pandemic

How exactly are warehouses equipped to increase production whilst adhering to social distancing at the same time?

After all, more workers means more people at all ends of the service process.

There a few innovative ways that companies around the globe have been doing exactly that.

Remote Control Forklift Drivers

Maybe the most innovative, as well as most effective, solution is the implementation of remote controlled forklifts.

Teleoperation has long been mooted as a technology that could potentially save money for businesses in any industry.

Of course, it has its drawbacks too. The main one being that there would still need to be regular servicing and maintenance of machines.

Elliot Katz, co-founder of Phantom Auto, believes that forklift operation can very well be a desk job.

He told the BBC:

“We have customers today where we are fully remotely operating those forklifts from remote locations”

Katz continued:

“If someone is behind that forklift and says, ‘Hey, you’re about to hit me,’ the operator can hear it just like he’s sitting on the forklift”.

It’s no secret at all that the internet of things has changed the way we work. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why teleoperation can’t be a useful, if likely very expensive, asset to the forklift and warehouse industry.

Space Saving

One of the easiest and most obvious methods of ensuring social distancing is to maximise space. More floor space means less personnel clutter.

Mezzanine floors and vertical racking have long been championed as the ultimate way to “build up”. They make use of vertical space in a way not many other solution can tap into.

Both offer a pretty quick turnaround in terms of getting set up and can be temporary or permanent.

It’s important to remember that when implementing a mezzanine floor, a number of regulations, planning permission and health and safety aspects must be taken into consideration.

Training

In March 2020, The Forklift Truck Association released a statement regarding training for fork lift trucks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It essentially laid out the ongoing importance of training and how to ensure the safe delivery of necessary training in the current climate.

Whilst training or retraining could potentially be carried out remotely for those who have used forklifts in the past, the chances of an inexperienced rider gaining sufficient knowledge without hands-on guidance is probably very low.

Avoiding scenarios like those below is obviously critical.

Even in today’s climate, there is no justifiable excuse for undertrained or underqualified staff to operate machinery out of their remit.

With that in mind, if training cannot be delivered safely, it should not be delivered at all.

Doing Our Part

Of course, the current global pandemic is not the best thing to have happened to the world.

We do have a duty, however, to ensure that everything possible is done to minimise the risks involved in work processes.

Hopefully, working together, we can ensure that nobody is punt in unnecessary danger.

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