Lift Truck Tips: Keep lift truck operators in one place

Standard and optional lift truck features can help the operator move as little as possible, a sure way to increase comfort and productivity.

By ·

Operating a lift truck all day can be physically demanding. With an eye toward improving operator comfort, many lift truck manufacturers have been developing standard and optional ergonomic features to reduce an operator’s stress and strain. Fingertip controls can replace hydraulic levers to minimize upper body exertion. Seat suspension can alleviate lower back pain. But to really boost comfort and productivity, the end-user should work not only to ensure the operator is comfortable in his seat, but that he stays there as often as possible.

According to Nebojsa “Beck” Trajkovic, electric product planning specialist with Toyota Material Handling U.S.A., ergonomics have such an impact on productivity that customers can even build a justification for new equipment based on ergonomics alone.

“Customers understand more than ever how ergonomics play an important role in not only reducing fatigue, but keeping the operator productive,” Trajkovic says. “If you’re trying to keep the operator as comfortable as possible, their amount of movement is directly related.”

With each new generation of lift truck, more ergonomic features become standard, such as fully suspended seats, smaller steering wheels to reduce strain to shoulders, and a lower front cowl, which improves visibility. Improvements in visibility lead to a reduction in movement, since viewing the forks, the load and any obstructions requires less craning, leaning and stretching. Minimizing leaning is not just a good practice, says Trajkovic, it’s an activity monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Leaning out of a truck is a citable offense, says Trajkovic, and thus a clear indicator of a problem.

But some of the most ergonomically friendly aftermarket options for lift trucks, such as integrated scales and fork positioners, are not presented expressly as ergonomic solutions. Scales reduce the need for an operator to exit and enter the lift truck to weigh a load, while the ability to bypass a stationary scale creates more direct routes for load movement. Fork positioners reduce the likelihood of hand injury, speed up productivity, and, again, keep the operator firmly planted in the seat.

For operators in some applications, repeated entry and exit is unavoidable. In this case, there are features that lessen the difficulty of frequent dismounts. In addition to more spacious floor space and a lower step height, lift trucks can be fitted with a swivel-seat option to reduce twisting motions. These seats can also lock at an angle to minimize lower back strain for rear-facing operators.

The justification starts with listening to operators, or providing a channel for feedback. Best of all, says Trajkovic, is that “happy operators will always lead to increased productivity.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Gaining Efficiencies Through End-to-end Warehouse Automation
Warehouse and distribution center managers in B2B and B2C have never been under more pressure to scale up their operations to meet customer demands in the new, digital economy. Warehouse Automation Custom digital issue, Peerless custom Automation white paper. Warehouse Automation research papers.
Download Today!
From the September 2016 Issue
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true omni-channel distribution center.
Lift Truck Tips: Knowledge is Power
Software system gives new facility a competitive edge
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
5 Emerging Technologies Enabling Competitive Advantage for Distribution
Come hear about the latest in each-picking robotics, co-bots, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, sensors, drones and droids that are enabling competitive advantage for distribution.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive...

Destination Maternity: Destination Automation
Running short of space in its old facility, Destination Maternity Corp. built a new, highly...
Hibbett Sports: Faster, Flexible and Efficient
A high-speed conveyor and sortation system at Hibbett Sports’ Alabama distribution center speeds...