Ep. 10: Celebrating Forklift Operators - Solutions Designed with Operators in Mind
In the fast-paced, innovate-now world we operate in, taking a moment to recognize the hard work and dedication of the people who make our lives easier is important — the forklift operators in the factories, warehouses and distribution centers whose jobs are focused on getting the products we demand manufactured and shipped to our doorsteps. We at The Raymond Corporation want to say thank you to the forklift operators who help keep the supply chain moving. We believe it’s important to highlight that appreciation through operator-first equipment and product design, in our work processes and in our dedication to continuous improvement. Hear from Raymond experts as they highlight innovative solutions that help operators work more confidently and efficiently..
TUESDAY, MARCH 21 | 11:15 A.M. TO 12:00 P.M. | THEATER H
Product Manager of ***
The Raymond Corporation
Vice President of Customer Solutions and Support
The Raymond Corporation
Warehouse Solutions Designed with Operators in Mind
Welcome, everybody. My name is Matt Curtis, and I am an iWAREHOUSE Product Manager here at the Raymond Corporation. I am responsible for the operator-assist technologies that we are testing out with our customers as their needs evolve.
I'm very excited to be here today to take a moment to say thank you to all of the forklift operators out there. In this fast-paced innovative-now world that we live in, it's all too easy to overlook the hard work and dedication of those people who make our lives easier. The workers in the factories, warehouses, and distribution centers, whose jobs are focused on getting the products that we need to our doorsteps in just a matter of days.
We just finished celebrating National Forklift Safety Day here at the Raymond Corporation on June 13. As the Raymond Corporation celebrated and thanked our operators for all of their hard work and dedication, we also wanted to highlight the material handling industry, warehousing, and distribution industries and their appreciation for their workers. That appreciation then transfers over into equipment and the product design that Raymond has with the operator in mind.
Here with me today, we have the Vice President of Customer Solutions and Support at the Raymond Corporation, Dave Norton.
Hey, Matt. Glad to be here. And again, I also want to thank all the forklift operators out there for all they do for us every day. As a forklift operator myself, I've probably had a license for longer than-- yeah, for sure longer than you've been around. But, yeah, I've driven many pieces of equipment and understand and appreciate what our operators go through in their daily life.
Just a little bit about myself. I've been with the Raymond Corporation for over 34 years in design, and development, management-- product management, and now with my existing role with customer solutions and support, much focused on training technical publications, our field service, our parts distribution, and customer experience along with a lot of our new technologies that we're rolling out to our customers to improve operating efficiency and effectiveness.
That's awesome. Well, thank you for being here. Having been a forklift operator myself, I can attest that confidence is key when you're operating those forklifts. Sometimes the environments Matt can be very noisy, and having the confidence that an operator needs is crucial to their success there.
Raymond is developing a ton of different operator-assist technologies that really help focus on improving those worker confidence. In your mind, what are some of the ways that we can help improve the worker confidence?
Well, of course, it always starts off with training. My first answer is always training and training the operators to be successful and confident in what they do. Raymond has an entire line of training tools, starting with our Safety On The Move, both classroom and e-learning. And as we know, there's three phases to operator training. First as a classroom environment.
The next is actually using the equipment and then learning how to use equipment in your application. And last is being tested by a certified trainer to make sure that you understand how to use the equipment appropriately. And you can be certified to do so.
With that, as I said, our safety on the move product offering is available both online, and our solutions and support centers are happy to come out and train forklift operators or train your trainers in the tools to help train your operators for the long term. We also have our virtual reality training tools, which work fantastic for that second phase of training, where the operators are actually getting on the truck, learning how to use the truck in a virtual mode.
As you can see by the videos here, we've got the ability to expose those operators to real-life experiences, from completing daily checklists to actually operating the trucks in very simple ways around understanding the controls and how the truck functions, all the way through adding more and more complicated lessons as they advance so that the operator is able to experience working around pedestrians, working in different environments, and get that experience in a virtual world.
So they're not moving the truck, and once they complete their virtual training, then they're ready to move on to actual driving the truck and being certified by a certified trainer.
Awesome. Yeah. Absolutely. The VR is a great way to help inexperienced operators learn in a more private environment as well. Sometimes, if you have a ton of people around, it gets a little uncomfortable for them. So that's a great way to help build their confidence.
I'd even say that it actually-- it helps when you have multiple people training at the same time because the truck isn't moving. So as the instructor is working with that operator who is in the VR environment, the other operators who are going to be trained or being trained learn from that person who is actually in that VR environment and their trainer.
Yeah, that's great. We also have telematics too, right, Dave? Some of the stuff that we can do is have the correct operator on the correct piece of equipment.
Absolutely. Making sure that only certified operators are operating the equipment that they're supposed to be operating through our telematics systems that also gives the ability for the operators to do their daily checklists and make sure that equipment is ready to be operated every day as required by OSHA to make sure that equipment is ready to be operated and good to go before they start their shift.
Yeah, and that's key, right? Making sure that the piece of equipment that they're going to use is in good working order in order to achieve their tasks.
What about some of our different types of location and zoning systems or object detection?
We have some newer products available where we actually are able to track the vehicle, and in certain areas, we have our real-time location system or RTLS system, where we can control the truck speed in certain environments, say, in an area where there's a charging area or a pedestrian aisles. We can change the truck speed. We also can slow trucks down at the end of aisles.
And you can see that by-- basically, by this graphic, the different areas that we're able to modify the performance of the truck and reinforce that operant behavior we expect from that operator. In addition to that, we have our object detection system, which reinforces best practices by reducing truck speed when the operator gets in close proximity with fixed objects or other trucks.
And you can see by this video how the truck functions in those types of situations. In this case, the trucks slows to a stop at the end of the aisle based upon our TLS, and then when it proceeds on as the vehicle is getting to the end of the aisle, this vehicle using our object detection system, is able to detect the truck that's in its cross path and slows that truck down, as you could see by the red before the truck exits the aisle.
Yeah. Those are great technologies. They definitely can help build that confidence for those new operators or existing. Another option that telematics offers is the ability to slow the truck speed down for those newer operators to help them gain that confidence that they need. But confidence is only one part of the whole one piece of the puzzle that we have for thanking these operators out there and how Raymond designs their trucks with the operators in mind.
Comfort is another piece of this puzzle. You're on a forklift for a long extended period of time, right? How are-- or how does comfort impact the workers?
Operator comfort is critical for reducing fatigue, keeping that operator attentive and focused throughout their shift, and making sure that operator is comfortable and goes home with full of energy.
So with our vehicles, all of our trucks are designed around the 95th percentile male and the 5th percentile female so that the whole spectrum of operators fit and are comfortable in our equipment, from lean pads and soft cushions for elbows and knees so that they're able to lean and be comfortable, all the way through suspension systems.
Many of our trucks have suspension so that the operator doesn't feel the bumps as they travel around the warehouse, minimizes for sure fatigue, and our trucks are designed so that the operator can shift their weight and be comfortable by shifting around throughout their shift.
That clear view mask that we also have it gives the operators a nice full view for that 95th percentile males that you can see right through. It really helps gain the confidence that they need there. So prioritizing the operator comfort is definitely a very good way to start making your operators more efficient.
But what are some of the other benefits with operator comfort and convenience? We do have the comfort dance floor, and that's great from a shock absorption going over dock plates and whatever. But what are some of the other ways that we can help prioritize operator comfort?
We also put in convenience features such as accessory bars pockets for different compartments so that you can put your tools that you're using throughout your shift, and USB ports for plugging in-- plugging in your terminals and RF terminals and things like that. As a matter of fact, this past year, we've won an IFOY award for our new 8910 end rider pallet truck as a finalist in the International Annual Logistics and Forklift Truck of the Year.
Basically, it was certified or awarded best in interlogistics certificate around ergonomics. So fantastic attribute to that piece of equipment, and customers and operators love it.
Yeah. That's great news about the 8910. It's a really nice truck. So let's elaborate a little bit more on the comfort and convenience when we're talking about operators performing their daily tasks, right? So what are some of the new operator-assist technologies that will help those operators be comfortable and efficient at the same time?
Sure. As we talk about improving our operator's comfort, we also focus on improving their productivity and minimizing the extra labor that they have to do as much as possible.
And in some of these products, we've come out with such as pick2pallet or pick to light on our pallet trucks, where the operator can actually pick to a location in a multiple pallet type pallet truck when they're picking. If you see by this video, the operator is able to know which location on those pallets to put the products. They don't make errors, and it minimizes the chances of that duplicate work. They make sure that they know they're putting that product in the right location for that customer order.
So that's a great improvement to productivity, efficiency, and minimizing errors. Especially with new operators, we make sure that product is being put on the right pallet for that customer order.
Yes, absolutely. Then it looks like in this video here, we are also showing Advance, right? So we're helping to reduce the operator fatigue from having to go on to the truck and drive every time, right?
Absolutely. The operator can sequence the truck forward while they're doing their picking. And as you can see here, they don't have to get on and off the truck. It moves forward for them, and they can do that pick as efficiently and effectively as possible.
That's great stuff. So we also have a couple of automated products as well, right? So that can take out those tasks that may not be as valuable to the operators, so they can focus on other tasks that are more valuable, right?
Just like you said, if there's a very repetitive tasks within a facility, moving things that happen over and over again, we have automated products that can take care of that so that the operators can do more value-added-- value-added work for their employer. Moving garbage. Things that are-- things that are repetitively done throughout a facility.
And you can see in the video, we have multiple different products that are automated that can be put on a loop or put in a cycle and do things for the customer so that the operator basically does not have to be on that truck. That operator can be used for other product or other tasks within that facility. So another valuable option for us is to be able to help our customers with those repetitive type of tasks.
And in my mind, allowing the operators to focus on more valuable tasks is a great way to help build morale within your facility, right? So you keep them driving for success with those more involved tasks that they have. So when we talk about engaging operators, how do you feel that it impacts the operators overall in a positive way?
We use a lot of our tools-- Raymond Lean Management tools to talk to operators to understand what their challenges are and help them improve how they work and how they operate and improve warehouses through our solutions and support centers. Those folks can work with and improve the culture by asking the operators and the employees how we could make their life easier. How can we make that product or that job more effective, more efficient?
And with that, those operators take ownership of that challenge, and they make lots of great suggestions. And working with the customers, we can improve efficiency and flow throughout the facility.
Absolutely. Yes, yes. The continuous improvement portion is key. The operators are the ones doing those tasks on a daily basis, so they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to creating more efficiencies there.
Yes. Well, great. Thank you, Dave, for taking the time today to talk about National Forklift Safety Day and to thank the operators both at our Raymond facilities but also in the material handling warehousing and distribution industries as well. For those people who would like to learn more about National Forklift Safety Day, please hop on over and visit the Raymond website. There you'll see a couple of different links that we could go through.
And once again, thank you very much to all those forklift operators out there. It's because of you that we're able to have the stuff come to our doorstep within a matter of hours in some places. So thank you very much.
Oh, great. Thank you all.
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