Fork-Free Revolution to Support Material Handling Ergonomics

fork free revolution industrial ergonomicsMany large companies have decided that they would like to go forklift free in their plants. This initiative not only reduces operational costs of running forklifts but, more importantly, reduces injuries that occur from forklift accidents.

Safety has been a growing concern in the workplace, with statistics showing 100 workers are killed from forklift accidents and 20,000 are injured annually in the U.S.A.[1]. In cases of injury or death, a company is liable to pay considerable costs for damages and injured workers can miss on average 61 days of work due to the injury[1].

The switch to forklift free means that workers will be required to move heavy loads manually or with the use of AGV’s (Automated Guided Vehicles). For moving carts manually, there is the issue of being able to move the same heavy loads as a forklift and maintaining productivity while at the same time keeping workers safe and unfatigued.

Ergonomic Casters in a Forklift Free Transition

manual material handling fork-free industrial ergonomicsUsing an ergonomically-friendly caster will help ease this transition by reducing the push/pull forces those workers will face when moving carts. By reducing the push/pull forces, you’re effectively reducing the risk of fatigue and making the cart easier to maneuver. You are also allowing employees to quickly move the carts, improving efficiency and reducing risk of injury.

Choosing an ergonomic caster will make the choice of transitioning to a forklift free environment much easier and will contribute to workplace safety while reducing overhead costs. In fact, moving to a cart with efficient ergonomic casters can save over twenty thousand dollars in fuel associated with a single forklift solution.

Automated Guided Vehicle Casters in a Forklift Free Transition

automated guided vehicles agv fork-free industrial ergonomicsAnother alternative when moving towards fork lift free environments is the use of Automated Guided Vehicles or AGVs. An AGV is an unmanned vehicle that moves loads to and from a specific location and usually includes a lot of turning and maneuvering. These AGVs face similar issues to workers on the floor pushing heavy loads. The problem with AGVs and casters is that if the load applied is high and a low quality caster is being used, there may not be enough power to overcome the resistance forces. By choosing a caster that reduces rolling resistance and swivelling forces, you will effectively reduce the power required to get the AGV moving. This has the added benefit of reducing charging frequency and increasing battery life.

Whether transitioning from forklifts to manual wheeled carts or AGVs, the reality is that the ergonomic integrity of the casters have a major positive impact on going fork-free. When planning your fork-free revolution, consider the key role that ergonomic casters can play in both efficiency and cost savings.

To find out how ergonomic casters can positively impact your forklift free transition, contact us.

[1] OSHA Regional Notice: Regional Emphasis Programs for Powered Industrial Truck,, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Region 4 Office: October 2014.

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