MMH    Topics     Jungheinrich

Ergonomics as a Retention Factor

In tough times for attracting operators, having a fleet with operator- and application-appropriate comfort factors can help.

Stand-up trucks with fold-down seating can enhance comfort on longer horizontal runs.
Stand-up trucks with fold-down seating can enhance comfort on longer horizontal runs.

At a time when attracting and retaining lift truck operators is challenging—with DCs in tight proximity to each other competing for a finite pool of labor—one way to set your operation apart starts with the truck itself: ergonomic features that contribute to operator comfort.

Many distinct features help with comfort, from seats and backrests of different sizes, to other ergonomic benefits more integral to the core design of the truck itself, says Chad Munger, product manager at Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas.

“It all ties back to putting operator comfort and operator needs at the center of lift truck design and then building the rest of the truck around that principle,” says Munger.

For example, with Jungheinrich lift trucks, one of five brands offered by Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas, some ergonomic truck features are inseparable from the mechatronics of the truck, such as an electric steering feature called jetPILOT on Jungheinrich’s ECE central control pallet rider that makes driving the truck like steering a car. Or, with the company’s low-level orderpickers, a remote-advance feature called easyPILOT Follow leaves the operator’s hands completely free.

This type of smart remote advance, explains Munger, allows the vehicle to follow the operator automatically “like a loyal puppy following its owner.” The ergonomic benefit, Munger says, is that the operator doing order picking doesn’t have to climb on and off the truck to advance, while the solution also precisely moves the truck to the right halt location when picking to multiple pallets, reducing wasted steps.

Other features are a bit simpler, but still part of operator-centric truck design, such as storage tray options and handy stow cubbies for gear, adds Munger. “They may seem like minor details of the truck, but it’s all part of making the operator’s job easier,” he says.

Regional differences when it comes to stand-up versus sit-down variants of the same type of truck include stand-ups being prevalent in the U.S. market and sit-down variants often preferred in Europe. With stand-up trucks like the ECE, Munger adds, fold-down seats are an ergonomic feature, because they offer comfort for longer transport runs, and when folded up, act as a backrest.

For some larger DCs, however, a sit-down model may be best if much of the truck’s use is for longer distances. “Sometimes, layout and distance travel will influence the best options and truck variants for operator comfort,” says Munger.

Lift truck ergonomic features often tie into the needs of specific types of applications and truck types. For example, Jungheinrich’s EJE walkie, which is often used for truck unloading or loading, has a “crawl speed” feature that is engaged with the handle in the upright position, which helps with tight corning in trailers. “Have a good understanding of your application needs and how you wish to improve efficiency,” says Munger.

Every major lift truck OEM can rattle off comfort and ergonomic features, such as suspended floors, steering mechanisms, while “integrated” lithium trucks designed to take advantage of the energy dense, compact nature of lithium batteries are allowing OEMs to do things like lower cab step up heights.

But do ergonomic features really help attract and retain operators? As Munger sees it, they are part of the answer to a tough challenge. “It can only help with retention if the trucks in your fleet are designed around operator comfort,” he says. 

Article Topics

   All topics

Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks News & Resources

Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas building new facility to meet demand for electric lift trucks
Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas group celebrates 10th anniversary of National Forklift Safety Day
Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas recognizes 2023 Dealers of Excellence
Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America (MCFA) supports seventh annual National Forklift Safety Day
Renze Display’s propane forklifts ensure high productivity
MCFA appoints New England Industrial Truck Inc. (NEIT) to represent brands in New England
Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America celebrates 25 years
More Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks

Latest in Materials Handling

Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association releases semi-annual statistics
Zebra study: nearly six in 10 warehouse leaders plan to deploy RFID by 2028
Conveying Strategies for Robotic Applications: How to Maximize Throughput
Combilift enters offshore wind sector with handling solution, collaborating with Siemens Gamesa
Kion Group partners with Li-Cycle to recycle lithium lift truck batteries in Europe
Record-breaking Pack Expo Las Vegas exceeds expectations
Dexterity AI and FedEx unveil robotics trailer loading technology
More Materials Handling

About the Author

Roberto Michel's avatar
Roberto Michel
Roberto Michel, senior editor for Modern, has covered manufacturing and supply chain management trends since 1996, mainly as a former staff editor and former contributor at Manufacturing Business Technology. He has been a contributor to Modern since 2004. He has worked on numerous show dailies, including at ProMat, the North American Material Handling Logistics show, and National Manufacturing Week. You can reach him at: [email protected].
Follow Modern Materials Handling on FaceBook

Subscribe to Materials Handling Magazine

Subscribe today!
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
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.

September 2023 Modern Materials Handling

Providers of automated packaging and carton right-sizing solutions have thrived by offering systems that deliver on labor and parcel shipment savings— now they’re looking to further evolve by looking to use lighter materials and support flexible “box-first” workflows.

Latest Resources

Conveying Strategies for Robotic Applications: How to Maximize Throughput
This webinar will discuss the recent development of embedding motion-control technology into conveyors to enable packages to be correctly presented to a robot so that throughput of the manual task that the robot has been assigned to perform is maximized.
Improve safety and ergonomics with code-compliant stairs
Outside the Box: Why parcel shippers are suddenly focusing on packing
More resources

Latest Resources

2023 Automation Study: Usage & Implementation of Warehouse/DC Automation Solutions
2023 Automation Study: Usage & Implementation of Warehouse/DC Automation Solutions
This research was conducted by Peerless Research Group on behalf of Modern Materials Handling to assess usage and purchase intentions forautomation systems...
How Your Storage Practices Can Affect Your Pest Control Program
How Your Storage Practices Can Affect Your Pest Control Program
Discover how your storage practices could be affecting your pest control program and how to prevent pest infestations in your business. Join...

Warehousing Outlook 2023
Warehousing Outlook 2023
2023 is here, and so are new warehousing trends.
Extend the Life of Brownfield Warehouses
Extend the Life of Brownfield Warehouses
Today’s robotic and data-driven automation systems can minimize disruptions and improve the life and productivity of warehouse operations.
Power Supply in Overhead Cranes: Energy Chains vs. Festoons
Power Supply in Overhead Cranes: Energy Chains vs. Festoons
Download this white paper to learn more about how both systems compare.