The Human Element in Forklift Design

When materials handling organizations look to purchase new forklifts for their operations, the final decision is often made based on input from a number of different departments involved in the supply chain operation. From finance to IT and logistics, the purchase of a new fleet of forklifts effects everyone in the company. Unfortunately, however, the people who are often left out of the process are the ones actually tasked with operating the forklift. Companies rarely purchase forklifts with an eye towards operator comfort. They don’t do this out of malice. It’s just the nature of managerial nearsightedness. They simply don’t know about the issues facing operators.

We want to help. Let’s take a look at some of the forklift design issues facing operators. Being aware of these issues can increase employee morale, contribute to safety and ultimately boost productivity.

Before deciding on a forklift, take some time to ask your forklift provider about operator specific issues. Here is a list of questions to get clear answers to before purchase

1. Is the visibility appropriate for the tasks the operator will be required to perform?

As a safety concern, proper visibility is essential. Operating a forklift in the narrow confines of a warehouse can be hazardous for both operator and workers on the floor. The many blind spots that exist in the warehouse layout are hazardous enough. Ensure that these hazards are not exacerbated by a poorly designed forklift with impeded visibility. Get feedback from your operators to ensure that what is promised in a spec sheet actually performs on the warehouse floor before purchase.

2. How readily will the truck accommodate different body sizes?

In the 1950, the US Airforce discovered the flaw of cookie cutter accommodations based on average height, weight and extremity length. They discovered that this flaw was contributing to crashes and deaths and needed immediate rethinking, forever changing the way airplanes are designed.

Before making a decision on a forklift purchase, ensure that the forklift design takes into consideration the fact that people are not all the same size. What is good for an operator who is 5’7’’ may not be good at all for an operator who is 6’3”. In this case, the forklift needs to offer adjustable seating or other options to accommodate all operators.

3. How will an operator’s posture impact comfort and fatigue?

Bad posture is one of the leading causes of fatigue and lost productivity. Before making a forklift purchase, make sure that the forklift is designed with operator posture in If a forklift design you currently use contributes to bad posture by forcing an operator to strain or use compensatory techniques, your organization may want to think about replacing these forklifts.
Getting answers to these question is not just a matter of reviewing the spec sheet and checking each off. It is important that you ensure that what is promised on the spec sheet actually manifests in the working environment and operator conditions of your warehouse. The best way to get clear, unbiased answers to these questions is to consult with your operators on each and let them test the forklift you are thinking of purchasing for issue in design. This will go a long way to ensuring that your warehouse is a safe, efficient and employee friendly environment.

Forklifts with Reno Forklift

No matter what forklift design you decide is best for your company, Reno Forklift can help outfit your operations with new and used forklifts. Come Check out our products and services and contact us today!

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