Safety an issue on truck choice

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Ford Motor Company has taken on 20 warehouse trucks from BT Rolatruc for use in its 140,000sq m engine plant in Bridgend, Midglamorgan. The plant, which makes Zetec engines for Ford cars and various V8s for Jaguar and Land Rover, features a high degree of automation.

Materials handling at the facility was reviewed after an employee was seriously injured in an accident involving a counterbalance truck. Brian Vicker, manufacturing engineer at the plant, explains: “We knew that we had to think again about how we moved materials around the site. Was there a safer option to the counterbalance truck for delivering parts to the production lines, for example? We decided to remove counterbalance trucks from the production areas and limit them strictly to those parts of the site where they were really needed, such as shipping. These areas in turn would be restricted to pedestrians.”

BT Rolatruc suggested using its OPUS OS CB model. The plant’s union representative responsible for health and safety, Mel Hughes, was “intrigued” that the truck could be driven with the load behind the driver. That meant the operator’s vision was not restricted. Hughes felt that with some modification, the truck would suit Ford’s needs and greatly improve plant safety.

The OPUS CB is a first and second level order picker with mast that is designed for travel in both directions – forks leading and forks trailing – and can be specified with two sets of controls. Ford wanted a comfortable seat for the operator, rather than a stand-in cab which meant potential conflict with the rear-facing controls.

BT Rolatruc replaced both sets of standard controls with two arm-rest units positioned either side of the seat. These can be raised or lowered depending on whether the operator is driving forward (seated) or backward (standing).

Other modifications include more capacity, from 1,200kg to 1,400kg; increased wheel diameters with softer compound tyres; rubber curtains around the truck skirt to prevent any trapping points; an overhead guard to protect the operator during stacking; high capacity 620Ah batteries with fitted rollers for easy changeover; and tilting forks to improve load handling safety.

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