Many companies use forklifts to move pallet loads of product around their shipping areas or warehouses. While forklifts are a necessary component of successful warehouse operations, they can cause injuries.
Operators often use forklifts to transport loads to and from semi-automatic stretch wrappers. During this process, they usually get on and off their forklifts to start the machine. The more they get off their forklifts and spend time near the machine, the more time is wasted and the higher the risk for injury.
Here are three reasons why your operators should stay on their forklifts during the load unitization process.
1. You can stop wasting about two minutes of labor per load.
Operators must perform a series of time consuming steps when getting on and off a forklift to complete a wrap cycle. Here are the steps broken down in sequential order:
- Climb on the forklift
- Buckle the seat belt
- Turn on the forklift
- Pull up to the load
- Lower the forks
- Pick up the load
- Raise the forks
- Pull up to the wrapper
- Lower the forks
- Place the load on the turntable
- Back the forklift up
- Lower the forks
- Set the parking break
- Unbuckle the seat belt
- Climb out of the forklift
- Walk over to the wrapper
- Attach the film to the corner of the load
- Press the “start” button
- Watch the load cycle run (about 1 minute)
- Cut the film with a film cutting device
- Walk back over to the forklift
All of these steps add up to about two minutes of wasted labor, or about $50,000 (€44,000) over five years for a company wrapping 50 loads a day and paying their operator $12.00 an hour. Click here to watch a side-by-side video that illustrates the time lost getting on and off a forklift to wrap a load.
Luckily, some efficient stretch wrappers can eliminate the need to perform these steps. One with increased automation can cut and catch the film at the end of the wrap cycle. Operators can start the wrap cycle with a lanyard switch or remote control device – all without getting off the forklift.
2. You can decrease accidents
About 95,000 people are injured every year while operating forklifts, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
One-third of these injuries occur when operators get off and on forklifts. When operators overlook proper forklift shut down procedures and don’t follow safety protocol, they may trip or fall off forklifts and possibly sprain or fracture their ankles.
If the driver doesn’t have to get on and off the forklift, he’s unlikely to fall or trip. And the risk of injury from interaction with the stretch wrapper is eliminated.
3. You can increase your productivity
Most people want to get things done more efficiently at the lowest cost possible.
Investing in a stretch wrapper with increased automation means getting more done with the same labor input from your operators. And it really doesn’t cost you that much in the long run.
Spreading the cost over the thousands of loads that it’s going to wrap during its economic life, yields a low machine cost per load wrapped. For example, if someone wraps 50 loads a day over 10 years, a $15,000 (€13,000) the machine will cost 12 cents (€0.01) per load.
But what’s even more amazing is the labor savings per load. If you increase automation and pay your operator $12 (€11) an hour and wrap 50 loads per day in the course of 5 years you'll eliminate $50,000 (€45,000) of labor.
For example, instead of standing around the machine and watching a load wrap, an operator who’s able to remain on his forklift has the ability to perform more value-added work. He can stage or transport another load – all from his forklift. When he’s done with this work, he can now go retrieve the completed load.
When you eliminate the safety risks that come along with operators climbing on and off their forklifts, you’ll have a have a safer, happier and more efficient work environment. All you have to do is pay a little bit more upfront for a stretch wrapper that allows your operators to remain on their forklifts while the machine does the laborious work.
Visit lantech.com to learn more about how to keep your operators on their forklifts.
This post was published on October 28, 2015 and updated on March 11, 2019.