With manual handling accounting for a third of all accidents in the food and drinks sector, leading retailers have been keen to find a safer way to move roll cages
The Health & Safety Executive point to roll cages as being one of the five main sources of injury in the highly pressured world of FMCG (fast moving consumer goods). It's easy to see why, when you consider the demands of roll cage movement. Laden with up to 600kg at a time (imagine a shopping trolley stacked full of baked beans and cola and then double it!) cages have to be moved from the tail lift of the delivery vehicle, onto the pavement, up slopes and finally into store. The most dangerous part of this operation is pulling the cage off the tail lift. There have been a number of examples of employees being crushed by cages that have overbalanced and fallen on top of them. Not only do accidents like this deal a blow to staff morale, they also cost the business financially. Coventry City Council successfully prosecuted Kwiksave in 2005 for a
tail lift roll cage accident. They were fined £7000 with a further £6750 in costs.
It is with this backdrop that in 2005 a UK supermarket group sought to find a machine that would address these issues. Their focus was on improving safety for deliveries made to their smaller stores. Found, for the most part, in town centre locations, deliveries to these stores are often made from a parking bay outside the shop. The setup means that the delivery drivers are contracted to take cages onto the vehicle tail lift, whilst the task of taking the cages from tail lift to stock room falls to the shop workers.
With over a decades experience in the design and manufacture of powered pedestrian tug units, Derbyshire based MasterMover® International Ltd, was ideally placed to provide a solution to these delivery challenges. Over nine months of research & development led to the SmartMover being born. Similar in size to an upright vacuum cleaner, the SmartMover enables the quick and easy unloading of a 600kg roll cage direct from the tail lift. By using a hydraulic clamping mechanism that attaches to the cage base, the SmartMover creates a rock steady platform which virtually removes any chance of a cage toppling off the tail lift. Once clear of the vehicle the operator can then adopt a forward facing position and let the SmartMover do the hard work of towing the cage into store. This again improves on current methods where staff are forced to push a heavy cage from behind without a clear view of what's in front. A customer at an Essex based department store recently needed stitches following an accident where an employee unwittingly pushed a cage into the customers' legs.
The range of features on the SmartMover makes it a very user friendly device. A simple throttle paddle on the headset means that the operator can constantly vary the speed according to conditions. There is also a twin speed button that allows the operator to place a cap on speed, for example, when inside the store. Amongst the other safety features are an anti crush button that ensures that the user cannot become trapped between the machine and an immovable object. Vital when trying to negotiate the tight spaces found in retail stockrooms! The machine also features an electro magnetic brake which is always on until the operator applies power through the throttle.
The investment MasterMover® made in developing the SmartMover has certainly paid off with over 200 units already out in the field.
As the corporate focus on health & safety grows, so does the market for the SmartMover. Andy Owen, Managing Director of MasterMover®, is excited by the machines prospects and the
impact it will have on the business. He suggests that “interest in the SmartMover is growing fast
amongst Britain's retailers, but there is a wider market in the healthcare and industrial sectors. The SmartMover will excel in any environment where the load is relatively light and where manouvreability, safety and control are key”.
MasterMover® International Ltd (www.mastermover.com) is the market leading manufacturer of electric tug units and electric pushing machines. Designed and
manufactured in the UK, MasterMover® supply machines globally into a diverse range of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, distribution and leisure. The company's range of machines move everything from aerospace fuselages through hospital beds and trolleys. Using a patented weight transfer method MasterMover® machines can gain the necessary traction to move loads ranging from 50 kilos up to 64 tonnes.