How to keep forklifts where they are safest and create a more efficient work flow in the process.
Forklifts are useful pieces of equipment, but they are relied on too heavily in the manufacturing environment. Overuse can lead to inefficient processes as well as safety risks. The best use for forklifts is lifting heavy pallets and transferring them from point A to point B. Transporting and even some unloading should be left to other means.
Think of the typical scenario when product comes in from a truck. Incoming product has been loaded onto a pallet and workers use a forklift or pallet jack to unload the semi-trailer. Some companies lift the heavy pallets onto pallet shelves close to the loading docks. Other companies leave the pallets on the floor and push them up against a wall. The pallets will sit until the parts are needed and then the pallets are unloaded. Most companies wait as long as possible to unload pallets; this helps people avoid stacking empty pallets or doing the work of unloading product before they need the parts. Pallets are so commonplace in a production facility that companies repurpose them. Employees will fill them back up with sub-assembled parts, and then move the pallet to another work cell to get more parts added. These moves also require a forklift or pallet jack used in the production area around people. Eventually all product is taken off the pallets and used in production and the pallets are discarded.
While this is the way things have worked for years, it is not the most productive strategy.
A safer and more efficient method of moving product around a production floor is with a Load Mover and carts or dollies on wheels. Consider this example:
Product arrives in a facility on pallets and is offloaded from delivery trucks and put into inventory. Pallets of product are either placed on the floor, put onto pallet shelves, or put onto a pallet dolly. When the product is needed for production, the pallet can be placed onto a wheeled dolly and put into the production staging area. The entire job of forklifting pallets can be done in the shipping and receiving area of the facility. This keeps the heavy equipment away from the production personnel, reducing the chance for injuries.
When parts are needed in production, a production worker can gather new parts with the help of an electric powered tug. Load Mover, Inc. manufactures electric tugs that attach to the wheeled dolly. The loaded dolly is pulled out of the production staging area and walked to the production work cell. If a production job requires several pallets of parts, then the dollies can be outfitted with tow bars and coupled to one another. A single operator with a Load Mover can then pull a train of carts to the work cell. A return of empty pallets can also be trained together to minimize trips back to the staging area. The amount of equipment traffic in the production area is greatly reduced, increasing safety. Efficiency is also increased because new parts are pulled at the moment that they are needed. These concepts also keep the production space open for production and not for forklifts and inventory. A side benefit of not lifting wooden pallets multiple times is they won’t break. A broken pallet is unsafe for a variety of reasons.
Research is leading to many company mandates to remove forklifts from production areas and other places with heavy pedestrian traffic. With the use of a Load Mover and wheeled carts or dollies, forklifts can be limited to the shipping/receiving area. With the practicality of the Load Mover, not only is the operation safer, it is also more efficient which both lead to cost savings.
Find out how your operation can become safer and more efficient with an electric powered tug manufactured by Load Mover, Inc. Our experts will analyze your needs and determine your drawbar pull requirements and then recommend a solution to your application. Call 952-767-1720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.