It may sound like something from a futuristic 80s movie plot, but people working safely alongside machines is a serious subject, particularly in materials handling operations. Transmon Engineering strives to help operations achieve ‘no harm’ by introducing innovative electronic devices to an operation.
Industry figures suggest that over 40 people suffer injuries caused by forklift trucks each week in the UK and even more during busy peak periods, with the increase of site pedestrian and driver activity.
"Safety should be a priority in any materials handling operation, so add-ons that enhance safety levels should be considered, particularly in operations where forklifts and pedestrians are required to operate in the same areas" says Paul Sercombe of Leicester based Transmon Engineering, which supplies a range of electronic devices and systems to help improve the safety and efficiency of forklift truck operations.
When pedestrians are required to operate in the same areas as forklift trucks, in warehousing operations for example, visibility is a key safety concern, as the blind spot is one hazard that no amount of training can remove.
Transmon has developed a Pedestrian Alert System that utilises RFID technology and can be fitted to almost any forklift truck. It detects the presence of a pedestrian, via an RFID active tag, worn by workers onsite at all times. The RFID active tags pulse a signal several times every second, activating the system when it enters the proximity detecting field (approximately 7 meters from a forklift). A clear warning in the form of a beacon, buzzer or LED alerts the driver and pedestrian that they are close.
Paul Sercombe explains "Transmon’s Pedestrian Alert System helps reduce the risk of a forklift and pedestrian collision in any operation, particularly when visitors are onsite, such as visiting lorry drivers or during busy times when temporary staff are employed."
The Pedestrian Alert System is particularly suited to loading and unloading areas, or for areas with limited visibility at intersections between pedestrians and forklift trucks or the exits from warehouse aisles.
Another system from Transmon, the Active Zone Reversing System, which can also be added to any vehicle, provides a visual and audible alarm as it gets closer to a person, object or structure such as racking. The distance limits are adjustable with warnings that can start at up to 7 metres, which get increasingly louder and change from green to amber to red.
Also using RFID technology, Transmon’s Zone Speed Savure system is particularly useful for operations with pedestrianised areas, long distances to travel or for specialist applications that require minimal movement or activity around high risk products.
The Zone Speed Savure uses RFID Active tags, which signal the speed limiter, only when required. A hard wired fixed proximity transceiver is fitted to the truck, which detects the RFID tags, strategically placed to create a low speed zone. On entering a restricted zone the speed limiter is activated and the truck speed is controlled. As the truck leaves the area, the driver has the option of selecting high speed mode, which means the operator is always in control and makes a conscious choice to select an appropriate speed. The Zone Speed Savure can help a site to adhere to safety regulations, without compromising productivity levels where a speed limit is not required.
"These safety add-ons should enhance awareness of the potential dangers, but should be considered the last line of defence against accidents" says Paul. "All Transmon systems are designed to be used in addition to, not instead of, the correct driver and pedestrian training and should not be considered a replacement for operation supervision or responsible driving."