Common Costly Forklift Mistakes – and How RTLS Technology Avoids Them

Forklift mistakes, even if they don’t result in injury to operators or pedestrians, are tremendously detrimental. They can result in hefty repairs, significant inventory loss, time wasted, and much more.

Fortunately, there’s a solution ready to empower you to cut down on costly forklift mistakes. Real-time location system solutions, or RTLS solutions, can give you the insight and visibility you need into your operation to better avoid these hits to your bottom line.

The Financial Impact of Forklift Accidents and Mistakes

Let’s quantify just how large an impact forklift accidents and misuse can have on your operation.

According to the National Safety Council, in 2019, alone, forklift accidents accounted for 79 work-related deaths and 8,140 nonfatal injuries that involved days away from work.

Further, the Council has previously estimated that the average direct cost of such an incident is around $38,000, with $150,000 in indirect costs ballooning that number to nearly $200,000.

Most of that impact concerns injuries, lost days and medical bills – but that doesn’t factor in the potential cost of OSHA fines, damaged equipment, inventory loss and more.

So, why are forklift accidents so common?

Traditional Forklift Operation and Oversight in Warehouse Settings

It’s a common scene in modern warehouses. Trained forklift operators navigate around other workers picking orders by sight, and managers have very little insight into the real-time state of their operations – particularly in terms of visibility into the entire warehouse space.

Even when operators and floor monitors are careful, disaster can strike. As they round corners, they can’t see unprepared pedestrians. Hazards, such as already-picked orders, could litter aisles, unseen until it’s too late. Routes can be inefficient, and productivity is lost.

Technology Solutions in Place to Prevent Forklift Accidents

These challenges have been the subject of much innovation, and certain technology solutions have arisen to attempt to meet it head on.

RFID sensors can help provide insights as to where pedestrians and operators are, though the information is sometimes still too late. Further, in-cab cameras can be leveraged, enhanced lighting solutions can surround forklifts to make them more visible, weight load indicators can ensure more safe mounting practices, and driver vision aids can provide more visibility into a driver’s surroundings. Even physical barriers can be used to create “no-go” zones.

However, all of these technologies still fall short of providing supervisors with total, enhanced visibility and fail to actually collect actionable data. They simply don’t measure up to RTLS solutions.

RTLS Solutions Enhance Forklift Safety and Warehouse Visibility

RTLS solutions provide total visibility into a warehouse’s operations, helping not only avoid forklift accidents and mistakes, but also improve efficiency, overall.

Using ultra-wideband (UWB) tags, which can be easily paired with operators and specific vehicles on a day-by-day basis, vehicles, employees and other assets can be tracked within an industrial environment at all times.

Using this tracking, supervisors can create geo-fenced zones to keep vehicles and people in and out and alert operators to hazards in real-time. Some advanced solutions also integrate features like vehicle pairing and vehicle active control, which can even slow or stop vehicles before a collision occurs and send and receive messages to personnel badges.

Advanced RTLS systems, when combined with robust software, can also empower supervisors to review spaghetti diagrams and heatmaps of drivers’ routes, helping them understand where it might be possible to add efficiency in terms of more direct routing.

In short, RTLS solutions help supervisors maintain visibility into where every employee, asset and vehicle is at all times, giving them eyes and ears where they’ve never had them before.

UWB tags can also be employed as a social-distancing measure to protect industrial spaces during reopening, and that initial solution can then be integrated with other systems and evolved into a full RTLS solution ready to grow and scale alongside an operation.

Redpoint’s technology offers an all-in-one, advanced RTLS solution specifically designed for forklift operational safety.

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