World leading nutrition, health and wellness company Nestle has added a new Linde ingredient to the recipe for safety at its Gympie plant in Queensland and the innovation is proving highly successful. The Gympie facility manufactures iconic coffee brands such as Nescafé GOLD and Nescafé Blend 43, supplying the key ingredient for the more than 3.6 billion cups of Nescafé instant coffee Australians drink every year. Nestle has relied on Linde for its forklift needs for two decades. It keeps the potential risks of forklift and pedestrian interaction under continuous scrutiny as part of a strong safety culture. Gympie Logistics Warehouse Team Leader, Matt Hooper, explained that every department at the Nestle plant regularly identifies the risks it faces, then works towards the site’s target of total risk reduction. “For this department the top task was to develop better ways of managing forklift and pedestrian interaction than we had previously employed,” he said. That’s where the Linde BlueSpot system has proved its simple efficiency.
“As an early step we had looked at the idea of using proximity sensors and alarms on our forklifts, but for various reasons we judged them unsuitable for what we wanted to achieve,” Matt Hooper explained. “While those trials were under way Linde announced its BlueSpot system and I saw a Linde forklift fitted with BlueSpot in action when I attended a national Nestle safety and health conference in Victoria. That Campbellfield plant is a lot larger than the Gympie site and has plenty of blind corners around rows and stacks. When I saw BlueSpot in action there I thought it was a great idea.”
Linde’s BlueSpot is a high-intensity, low-consumption LED light warning system suitable as a retrofit solution or for fitting to new counterbalance and warehouse trucks. It provides a cost-effective extra measure of safety around doors, exits, crossings and blind corners where forklifts, warehouse trucks and pedestrians share common work spaces in storage, incoming goods, dispatch or manufacturing areas. Energy-efficient LED lights attached to the top of the driver's protective roof frame project a large, bright blue spot onto the floor ahead of the vehicle. “Here at Gympie we have the BlueSpot system fitted to 11 Linde forklifts which are used mainly in the warehouse area,” Matt Hooper said. “We have set their BlueSpot beam to focus on the floor, three metres from the forklift, because Nestle has implemented a three metre rule for pedestrian/forklift safety. Everyone has their own estimate of three metres, but with the BlueSpot beam on the floor there’s no guesswork involved. At Nestle, if you need to approach a forklift then the driver needs to switch it off. That’s a cultural change we’ve been embedding in the factory over the last year. Linde’s BlueSpot system is really helping with that process.”
The Gympie plant trialled the system thoroughly and considered putting BlueSpot LED lights on both sides of its forklifts, as well as front and rear. The idea of side-mounted BlueSpot lights was quickly rejected and at the end of the trial a system of front and rear facing BlueSpot LEDs was implemented to suit site requirements. “We’ve got 1.8 and 2.5 tonne gas trucks as well as a two tonne electric counterbalance forklift,” Matt Hooper said. “Once we decided where we wanted to mount the BlueSpot LEDs the installation took only an hour or so on each forklift. The highest risk obviously comes when you are reversing, especially out of warehouse racking rows, or if you are taking goods out of a block stack – which happens a lot in our warehouse. Our forklifts are each fitted with a rear facing BlueSpot light which operates whenever the forklift is switched on. There is also a front-facing LED fitted with a switch which gives the driver the option to manually turn it off or on. In both situations the Blue Spot light gives a clear visual warning. There is no mistaking where that blue light is. It is highly visible anywhere in the warehouse."
The feedback from the operators is that the forklifts are a lot more visible to each other now, especially when they are going in and out of rows.
"There are also areas outside the plant buildings where our forklifts travel close to a pedestrian walkway, as well as a couple of blind spots entering a laneway on the site. In those situations the forward facing BlueSpot light can be a big safety factor. With our push towards maintaining separation between forklifts and pedestrians the Linde BlueSpot system was definitely the best solution we could find.” No additional infrastructure is required to implement Linde’s BlueSpot system, so the need to install sensors, dedicated cabling and the complications of retro-fitting in existing facilities are all avoided. Forklift drivers often find the shrill tones of acoustic warning devices so disruptive that they switch them off and thus prevent them from fulfilling their function.
For more information on how Linde's BlueSpot LED light warning system can help your business, contact Linde Material Handling today.