Friday, October 1, 2021

New Technology Available to Reduce Incidents in Narrow Aisle Racking

Touch Sensitive Articulated Lift Trucks Stop Automatically
Shipping News Feature

UK – Operating a lift truck in the narrowest of aisles can be a stressful and dangerous practice which requires a high level of skill from the operator. Now one manufacturer is introducing a safety feature which it claims dramatically reduces the risk of anything untoward happening whilst working in the banks of closely spaced racking.

Flexi Trucks from Narrow Aisle Ltd are fitting a Smart Stop ‘touch sensitive’ in-aisle sensing system which causes the articulated lift truck’s digital drive system to lock out should the truck touch a pallet load or rack while turning in an aisle. The Flexi Truck Smart Stop system is offered for use with the latest Flexi ‘Digital’ range of articulated warehouse trucks. Quickly and easily fitted to a truck’s left- and right-sided flanks, Smart Stop technology interfaces with the Flexi Truck’s digital ‘brain’, which controls all drive, hydraulic and steering functions.

Once shut down by Smart Stop, the Flexi Truck can only be restarted when the driver has reported details of the incident to his or her designated line manager. Because the operator cannot override this functionality, a product or rack impact incident must be logged and dealt with immediately. John Maguire, managing director of Narrow Aisle Ltd, comments:

“Alongside overloading racking beyond its capacity, lifting equipment abuse is the leading cause of rack system failure. Often, what appears to be a relatively minor incident can inflict significant long-term structural damage to racking. This can ultimately lead to rack collapse if the problem is not noticed before the next scheduled rack inspection.

“By deactivating and disabling a Flexi Truck that comes into contact with an object, such as a pallet load, racking or rack guards within the storage aisle, Smart Stop makes it impossible for an incident to go unreported. Not only does Smart Stop slash the type of damage to racking and products which can cost companies many thousands of pounds each year, it also simplifies the operator’s role by taking away the stress of causing damage whilst driving in aisle and also the need to report an accident.

"With the logistics industry finding it hard to attract lift truck operators, it is important to make the driver’s job as easy and stress-free as possible. The unique digital steering Flexi Truck was already one of the most straightforward trucks to operate on the market and now the availability of Smart Stop makes a highly driver-friendly lift truck even easier and safer to work with.”

John Maguire’s comments are backed up by those who have started using the technology. One of the early adopters of Smart Stop is online garden supplies retailer, Primrose. Earlier this year, the company upgraded the materials handling fleet at its Sharpness, Gloucestershire, high-bay fulfilment centre with a new fleet of Flexi Truck 12 metre articulated forklift trucks featuring Smart Stop. Mike Costello, Primrose’s Head of Operations at Sharpness, observed:

“In the time since the new Flexi Trucks with Smart Stop have been in service at our Sharpness facility, incidents of rack damage have been completely eliminated and costs incurred by carrying out rack or truck repairs reduced to zero.

“While rack repairs are costly and also have a negative impact on productivity, we know that some of the more serious safety problems within warehouses occur when truck operators fail to pass on details of collisions with racking or storage systems.

“If damage goes unnoticed there is a chance that a more significant safety issue will occur. The Flexi Smart Stop in-aisle sensor system means that there is absolutely no chance of aisle impact being overlooked within our operation.”