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GPS technology enhances safety at Loscam

Supplier: Powerlift Material Handling
15 June, 2010

In an ongoing commitment to improve site safety, Loscam has worked with Powerlift Nissan to introduce cutting-edge GPS technology.

The innovative new technology - known as GPS Zone Switch - has been developed to safely manage forklift speeds throughout various working areas of Loscam's facilities.

Each fork truck has been fitted with a GPS module that signals its location. This then activates Nissan's factory developed speed control system to automatically change between the truck's high and low speed settings, which are both fully adjustable.

Zone boundaries, or a 'Geofence', are set up via a web interface, such as Google Maps. The Geofence application allows areas within Loscam's various sites throughout Australia to be plotted with the simple click of a mouse.

The settings are stored on a server that communicates wirelessly with a forklift once the vehicle is in motion. When a truck enters or leaves a zoned area, a switch in speed is automatically initiated.

Areas inside the zone switch - such as areas around pedestrian traffic - see the forklift default to the low speed setting. Once a fork truck leaves a zoned area it automatically reverts to the higher speed to help maintain productivity.

"There was complexity in our objective. We wanted to slow fork trucks in areas close to pedestrian traffic and speed up in areas where it was safer to do so to maintain operational efficiencies," says Peter Burgess, Loscam's National Operations Manager.

"GPS Zone Switch enables management of vehicle speeds dependant on area requirements from high speed to low speed."

Peter says Loscam initiated discussions with Powerlift Nissan because of the increasing importance of Occupational Health & Safety at the company's sites. Powerlift Nissan then worked in conjunction with its Fleet Management Technology provider to create the cost-effective and user- friendly GPS solution.

"As with anything new, the drivers were a little apprehensive when the Nissan's first arrived, but now we can't get them off them."- Martin Morales, Loscom Operations Manager

"A further safety feature is that whenever the module cannot obtain a GPS location, the switch is defaulted to low speed."

"The result of the development work between Loscam's equipment and Powerlift Nissan's technology certainly achieved our objectives.

We've delivered a safer work environment through an improved traffic management system," added Peter.

While the Victorian depots at Hampton Park and Laverton have used Nissan forklifts for a number of years they have only recently been introduced into Loscam's Wetherill Park facility.

"When the contract lease was up for renewal with another forklift provider, we were advised we would be getting Nissan forklifts," said Martin Morales, Operations Manager at Loscam's Wetherill Park warehouse in Sydney's west.

"As with anything new, the drivers were a little apprehensive when the Nissan's first arrived, but now we can't get them off them," Martin explained. "All our drivers are very experienced and highly skilled, and they'd soon let you know if they didn't like a new forklift, regardless of where it came from."

"We have six forklifts with Cascade twin - pallet handlers operating here at Wetherill Park; four are Nissans which the drivers really favour. It's got to

the point where we have to direct the drivers to the other forklifts in order to spread the operating hours evenly."

"The GPS zone switch is a fantastic feature," Martin said. "It's reassuring to know that once inside the designated zone the drivers aren't able to exceed the speed limit preset for us by Powerlift Nissan."

"This is also beneficial for the drivers as they can concentrate solely on what they're doing and not have to constantly monitor their speed."

As a further safety measure all the Nissan forklifts feature the Nissan seatbelt interlock system, which prevents the forklift from starting if the seatbelt is not engaged.

To preserve the engine and gearbox components, it's not possible to go from forward to reverse without first coming to a complete stop. This feature translates to significant savings on parts and service maintenance over the life - cycle of the forklift.

Running three shifts a day, Loscam is the warehouse that never sleeps. "We're a very busy depot and the forklifts are put through a heavy workload so they need to be robust as it's a hard environment. Although we've only had the Nissan's since the start of the year, they have already proved themselves as excellent machines," said Martin.