Fleet and Operator Management Systems: A Valuable Tool in Your Forklift Safety Toolkit

The core foundation of an effective safety culture is access to quality training at various levels of an organization; where training is provided and encouraged not just for operators, but also for trainers, supervisors and even pedestrians. While this multi-faceted approach to safety may seem daunting, a forklift fleet and operator management system can give you the information and control you need to tackle the complex issue of safety and give it the consistent attention it deserves.

The forklift is no longer just a vehicle used to move products from point A to point B. It has become an intelligent, interconnected, mobile information technology hub. Today’s forklifts are industrial-strength computers capable of carrying full pallet loads as they collect valuable data on operator performance, equipment status and health and product movement.

The data and visibility provided by this new level of connectivity is empowering operators and managers to make informed decisions that help reduce costs and improve operator and forklift productivity. It can also be used to help increase workplace and operator safety.

A Data-Driven Approach to Safety

A good forklift fleet and operator management system can leverage the increased connectivity to help managers implement a data-driven, proactive approach to safety. Following are four ways a forklift fleet and operator management system can help improve overall safety.

1. Reduce Impacts

Many managers don’t realize just how many impacts occur in their facility. It can be a little shocking when they discover the exact number. It’s not uncommon for some facilities to see 50 or more impacts a day. Typically, it has been difficult for managers to track and understand enough about the impacts to take steps to reduce them.

Forklift fleet and operator management systems provide that visibility. Collected data helps create an accurate picture of how and when impacts are occurring. Using the data, warehouse managers can identify areas where impacts are most likely to occur and operators who are most likely to be involved. Armed with this information, managers can take the necessary actions to reduce avoidable impact events.

2. Streamline Compliance

The data collected as part of a forklift fleet and operator management system can bring increased rigor and oversight to compliance processes. In fact, compliance with OSHA inspections, training and licensing requirements is often one of the primary goals of forklift fleet management implementation.

Certain systems allow managers to limit forklift access to only operators with the required certification and training. An electronic inspection checklist ensures operators have inspected the truck and determined that it is safe to operate. The electronic system documents the completed checklist and the amount of time it took to complete. The information is saved to provide evidence of compliance to OSHA.

3. Identify Safe/Unsafe Behavior

Most operators strive to be safe operators and champions of best safety practices. However, as with every profession, there are always those who either willfully disregard the rules or need additional safety reminders or training.

Information provided by a fleet and operator management system can provide both a window into operator behavior and an instrument for modifying that behavior. For instance, monitoring forklift impacts allows organizations to set goals for specific operators and the entire team. Highlighting and rewarding operators with the fewest impacts while setting and communicating team goals can increase safety awareness and motivate operators to strive for continuous improvement. Operators who do not improve can then be targeted with additional training or incentives.

4. Implement Real-Time Operator Coaching

Currently, forklift fleet management systems focus primarily on monitoring operator behavior as exhibited through the forklift. As forklifts become more connected, real-time coaching will assist operators in planning routes, including knowing the location of other forklifts to minimize congestion and reduce the chance of impacts. Voice and visual alerts could be used to reinforce safe operating behavior as well as notify operators of unsafe conditions, such as a spill or fallen product.

Creating a safer work environment for forklift operators and other personnel doesn’t happen without effort and participation of all stakeholders. As forklift connectivity continues to increase, leveraging a forklift fleet and operator management system will equip managers with a more robust toolbox to create and/or enhance a data-driven, proactive approach to safety.

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