Fork Lift Trucks: Safety and Durability in a Working Environment
Fork Lift trucks have seen a global increase in sales. In 2017, global forklift Market sales reached a record high of 1.334 million units and Forklift truck market report, published by Market Research Future, projects that the global forklift truck market is estimated to reach USD 41.73 billion by 2023.
Fork lift trucks may seem to many like an old fashioned vehicle, associated with factories from the past but there has been much improvement in research and development of more technically advanced vehicles, focusing on the environmental advantages in reducing carbon emissions, with the development of more sophisticated electric and hydrogen cells powered fork lifts. Along with this much needed advancement, the vast increase in e-commerce sales, manufacturing in the retail sector and the automotive and food industry has dramatically increased global sales.
At Ecotile, we too are reliant on fork lift trucks and use them daily to move our industrial and garage flooring products around our production and manufacturing facility. We consider a number of important factors when choosing fork lift trucks for Ecotile;
• Performance characteristics
• Safety functions
We settled on choosing one major player in the fork lift truck market; Jungheinrich counterbalance trucks, which fitted the above criteria and are exceptionally quiet and ergonomic in use.
We have 3 Jungheinrich forklifts in the Ecotile production and warehouse facilities and use them 24/7 for a variety of functions in our flooring manufacturing facility.
We produce heavy-duty interlocking flooring in the U.K. for garages, gyms, workshops and industrial applications. The flooring is highly durable and manufactured from high impact resistant PVC. Our fork lift trucks lift on average 800k on each journey and move around 60 pallets a day, including moving raw material into and out of storage and bins of raw materials to the production line. Once the flooring has been manufactured, it’s placed onto the warehouse racking and then orders are picked and placed onto delivery trucks for customer deliveries, destined for garages, industrial settings and consumer’s homes all over the U.K. and overseas.
Ecotile supplies high impact flooring to high profile British brands including; Jaguar Land Rover, Royal Mail, TK Maxx, SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy) and AES Seal. They chose Ecotile flooring for the similar reasons that we chose Jungheinrich trucks.
Some, if not all of these companies, use fork lifts in their manufacturing and warehousing facilities and find that activities involving frequent changes in the truck’s direction, requires highly robust flooring to withstand repetitive wear, for which Ecotile is renowned within the industrial flooring sector. Another safety benefit of Ecotile is all of our flooring ranges are anti slip, which is especially important in settings like garages and workshops, where water and oil spills occur.
Safety is an extremely important factor when using fork lifts and whilst they look small and compact, they are obviously capable of lifting heavy loads. They can and do tip over if over loaded, driven incorrectly, or at high speed as they can reach 35mph, so making sharp turns and driving at speed, will inevitably result in an accident. Around 1000 serious or fatal fork lift accidents happen each year in the U.K. and ensuring Health and Safety guidelines are followed is imperative to staff safety.
We train our fork lift drivers onsite and it is a very skilled and experienced driver who masters the numerous complex manoeuvres required to lift, drive and deliver loads safely around our factory. Allowing drivers to take short breaks and drink water maintains alertness and helps avoid accidents, as driver inattention is a common cause of accidents and very easily preventable. Our drivers are tested for safety off site at one of the approved testing centres and regularly updated with training to refresh on safety procedures. We also carry out safety training with employees working in the same locations as the fork lifts, as they can also be injured, or contribute towards accidents through lack of awareness.
Educating staff that are driving or working around fork lifts, on the weight limits of each machine type and how fork lifts actually lift and balance loads helps prevents accidents occurring. Simple physics explains how cleverly the design of counterbalanced fork lifts keep the centre of gravity within the wheel base. Think of a See Saw and how shifting weight at either end can cause instability to the person at the other end. The further away from the centre of the see saw, called the ‘fulcrum’ (where the weight is balanced) the more bouncy and unstable it gets. The closer to the fulcrum the more stable the see saw but it is not as much fun though!
Whilst the physics of this might send some to sleep, it is an intriguing and very clever design for such a small machine capable of lifting extreme weights. It is also important for staff to understand the basic physics and the machine’s weight limits for safe operation of fork lifts.
At the rear of the fork lift, there is a counter weight, the size of this depends on the machine’s lifting capacity or load rating. The weight lifted by the fork lift is balanced by the counter weight and to avoid tipping over, it is crucial to keep the centre of gravity within the wheel base of the truck for it to remain stable. The higher the centre of gravity, the more risk of it tipping over, for example; risk is increased with the load held high up and making sharp turns.
To keep the fork lift stable, placing the load closer to the front wheels results is less likely for accidents to occur. The higher and further out the forks are placed, creates more chance of tipping over. Don’t forget seat belts should always be worn too.
Accidents can change lives and affects not just of the injured but many people connected with the person who is injured, has tragically lost their life, or has witnessed the accident. The legal and monetary affect on companies can be vast. Taking safety precautions in investing in staff safety training and investing in products such as Ecotile’s anti slip floor ranges and choosing a vehicle such as Jungheinrich with high levels of safety features helps to reduce those risks.
In a factory or industrial setting where you may be thinking about safety and preventing or reducing wear from fork lifts; Ecotile flooring is comfortable underfoot, the textured surface is anti-slip and the hard wearing PVC tiles prevents wear from numerous fork lift manoeuvres.
Take a look at the video to see examples of how frequent changes in direction are very tough on the floor tiles we produce but our flooring withstands these repetitive actions, due to the superiority of our floor tile products.
Lucinda O’Reilly, Exports & Marketing Director is an integral part of the team that has grown Ecotile Flooring in to the successful manufacturing business it is today. Over the last 20 years she has successfully employed her skills in sales and marketing to ensure Ecotile Flooring is recognised as the market leading manufacturer of PVC interlocking floor tiles. Lucinda’s love of travel means the Ecotile brand is dominant all over Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and India.
To ensure compliance with export regulations Lucinda has gained accreditations from the Chamber of Commerce in Incoterms & Export Licence Controls and Export Procedures & Documentation and has completed the Institute of Export course on Incoterms 2020. She is a member of the Institute of Export, was a finalist in the Natwest Open to Export competition in 2018 and was instrumental in Ecotile Flooring winning a Queen’s Enterprise for International Trade in 2017. Lucinda has recently been interviewed by BBC News and Channel 4 News for her insights on Brexit and is an Export Champion for the Department for International Trade.