Forklifts 'face-off' in narrow aisle

SICK Pty Ltd

Wednesday, 29 April, 2015

Forklifts 'face-off' in narrow aisle

The S3000 Anti Collision safety laser scanner from SICK makes use of its own scanning range record of 7 m for a field where safety is key, but it doesn’t stop there - it is actually capable of covering a much greater scanning range of up to 15 m.

A protective field is used to safely detect oncoming forklifts in narrow-aisle applications and reduce their speed before a collision occurs. The S3000 Anti Collision can be relied on to detect a reference target on the oncoming vehicle at a distance of up to 15 m away. This means that it is possible to operate two forklifts at high speed in a single aisle, offering maximum results with a high level of system throughput. Dynamic field switching is a further function that facilitates a high degree of throughput. At the same time, the technology monitors a protective field of up 7 m to detect human presence.

As a result of spatial restrictions in the aisles, shelving systems that are accessed using industrial trucks do not always conform to a minimum distance of 0.50 m between the shelving units and the vehicle or load to be transported. Passages of this size between shelving systems are referred to as narrow aisles.

It is not possible for operators of industrial trucks in narrow aisles to avoid oncoming vehicles. In order to ensure personal safety, DIN 15185-2 requires operators to take technical and organisational action.

The ‘reliable collision protection field’ is an auxiliary function of safety laser scanners intended to prevent industrial trucks from colliding in narrow aisles. Unlike conventional safety functions that offer personal protection depending on whether a human presence is directly detected, this function detects a vehicle in the surrounding area and so, by avoiding collisions between two vehicles, indirectly prevents harm to individuals.

The high relative speed of two vehicles that are travelling towards each other makes it necessary for the collision protection field to have a large scanning range. In this case, a protective field with a scanning range of 7 m is no longer good enough.

From a user perspective, the objective is to increase throughput as a result of the ability to operate two forklifts in a narrow aisle at high speed.

Flexibility in logistics

The increased demand for personalisation of products has puts new demands on the entire supply chain. Although additional personalisation requires extra effort in terms of production and logistics, productivity and efficiency are not expected to suffer; which may sound like a contradiction in terms.

In addition, customers increasingly expect a high degree of transparency in business processes to give them maximum flexibility in terms of demand and freedom to act. Supply chains now face the same challenges both within and between the relevant factories, because logistics are everywhere, whether inside a production site or en route to the next one.

Intelligent networking of factories, as foreseen by ‘Industry 4.0’, solves both problems by creating a high degree of transparency and flexibility through new concepts of automation. There are many different dimensions within the supply chain through which logistics can exert influence. There are five challenges that directly affect flexibility in all areas of logistics:

  1. Communication
  2. Track and trace
  3. Flexible automation
  4. Quality control
  5. Safety

Safety: Autonomous machines require new safety concepts that are optimised to more flexible production methods. These include the protection of every process step along a production line to deal with man/machine interactions, which are now significantly less susceptible to planning. In all of these approaches and solutions, of course, the safety of people is a priority. However, the safety aspect must also cover an adaptive approach to the production environment, such that the safety solutions themselves are flexible and responsive. This means that complex and highly automated production lines do not need to be shut down completely just because safety cannot be guaranteed at an individual point in the process.

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