Focus on customer safety

G4-26, G4-27

The safety of the vehicle driver and accident prevention during operation has always been at the centre of the development work carried out at Linde Material Handling. As early as 1980, Linde developed its first truck with a floating and completely enclosed cab, known as the “Protector Frame”.

The proven hydrostatic drive provides “installed safety functions” such as dual pedal control. The driver operates the pedal for forward motion with his right foot and the left foot is used to drive backwards. The pedals are linked together and the vehicle brakes automatically. Since the feet always have to remain on the individual pedal and the mandatory brake is not actually needed, it is impossible to get confused between the accelerator and brake pedals. Linde also transferred this control principle to electrically powered counterweight trucks and reach trucks.

ForkliftCup: Championship in safe driving

For the past ten years, Linde Material Handling has staged the ForkliftCup. Qualifying rounds take place in many countries – in Germany there are 26 regional competitions. Each year, more than one thousand truck drivers qualify for the big final. The best drivers demonstrate their manoeuvring abilities in the square in front of the palace in Aschaffenburg. Each country sends its three best drivers to the International Championship. The course of challenges they have to master driving different Linde vehicles provides a fun emulation of real workflows. Naturally, safety regulations have to be complied with in the ForkliftCup – otherwise time penalties are imposed. Specialist symposiums are held in many places at the same time as the national competitions and these feature presentations of new safety developments and discussions. Sustainability in the area of logistics is also an ongoing topic at events like the German Material Handling Symposium or the Linde Open Safety Day in Spain.

Forklift at the ForkliftCup (photo)
ForkliftCup award ceremony (photo)

Innovations for customer safety

The most important innovations in the past several years include the Linde Safety Pilot – a form of Electronic Stability Program (ESP) for forklift trucks. This breakthrough means that trucks can only tip over if the driver deliberately fails to operate the truck properly or if loads are bulky and ungainly enough to significantly unbalance the equilibrium of the vehicle and the load. Although the Machinery Directive of the European Union makes this a requirement, to date it has not been technically feasible.

So far, Linde is the only manufacturer to implement these requirements in selected vehicles. Serious accidents involving personnel in connection with products from Linde are precisely recorded and analysed. Crashes involving people or other vehicles can also be prevented by the retrofitable Linde BlueSpot. A small searchlight shines an intensive blue light on the floor behind the vehicle and this provides a visual alert indicating the approach of a low-noise vehicle.

The new fleet management solution “connect:” also provides more safety and efficiency for customers. Vehicles equipped with “connect:” continuously record data from the controls and sensors and transfer this by wireless connection to the software. Drivers use a PIN or a RFID chip to log on to the vehicle. This enables vehicles and drivers to be assigned to each other at any time. The software is able to administer and link up driving authorisations, driving licence categories, training status, maintenance planning and much more. The various function modules in the system can control vehicle functions such as speed with reference to the driver, place of deployment or shocks to the vehicle recorded via shock sensor. This permits optimisation of fleet deployment as well as increasing safety and documentation of operating workflows.

Linde Safety Pilot

Linde Safety Pilot (photo)

The “Human factor” is the most common cause of accidents at work. Incorrect operation of safe machines continuously causes industrial accidents and disruption to the logistic flow. In order to exclude, as far as possible, human error, Linde has developed a unique electronic driver assistance system, the Linde Safety Pilot (LSP). The system uses sensors to continuously record key vehicle and load parameters. On a monitor, the LSP shows the driver the current load weight, the maximum lift height taking account of the current load, the lift height currently reached, and the current tilt angle of the fork arm. If the maximum load limit is reached or the vehicle is cornering too quickly for the load it is carrying, the colour of the display changes and a warning alert sounds. The assistance system can optionally also intervene actively in the vehicle control. It is then no longer possible to lift the load any further, the vehicle brakes independently and cannot be accelerated – until the limit range for the vehicle is no longer impinged.

Ergonomic product design

Ergonomic design for the specific workplace of an industrial truck driver is one factor in handling trucks safely. Linde has a long track record of innovations in this area. Most recently, one such example was the rotating driver’s seat – up to 90° to the direction of motion. This innovation yields a significant improvement in vision and also reduces health risks by subjecting the body to less stress – and it is also recommended by the German Statutory Accident Insurance Federation (DGUV), the federation of the German employers’ liability insurance associations, and the public accident-insurance institutions. An armrest with a reduced joystick is also among the measures that make steering significantly easier. All the instruments are within easy reach and they combine with modules like the Linde BlueSpot, the automatic speed throttle for driving round bends and many more to give drivers in Linde vehicles a sense of safety. This verifiably improves output by around 20%.

Handling product errors

Product errors that occur within production or with customers are systematically recorded and dealt with. The objective is to reduce the error rate and consequently the quality costs for the vehicles. This is why a team of employees from the areas of customer service, production, planning, development, quality assurance and the “Champion” (team leader) is responsible for each series. Reasons for a fault elimination process might be issues like warranty claims submitted by customers or complaints. If product errors occur resulting in personal injury, we carry out a risk and cause analysis in conformity with EU directives. The aim of this analysis is to identify critical risks and introduce appropriate measures for protection as necessary.