Robert Yates is the Transit Warehouse Manager for the site. His role encompasses everything from operations and facilities, to training and health and safety, “We have 35 counterbalance trucks, five reach trucks and two scissor lifts in operation here,” he explains. “Goods come in, are loaded onto the racks and eight hours later, the same consignment can be back out of the door on its way somewhere else.” This means the 10,000 rack spaces in the facility are in almost constant use. With the fast turnaround time of goods and so many daily vehicle movements, the risk of impact damage is high; however, actual rack damage incidents are rare. “Our forklift drivers are very skilled and experienced. Most of them have been with us for a long time, so they know the facility well,” Yates adds. “If anything does happen, they report it.”
Despite the high standards of driving at Europa, rack impacts can happen – especially during busy periods. When they do, such incidents are usually minor; however, the risk of something more serious happening is always there. This was a concern for Yates and the management team at Europa. “If we identify a potential risk, we want to address it quickly,” Yates explains. “The company is happy to invest in safety. If a solution prevents just one accident, then it’s money well spent.”
The consequences of rack impact damage, whether cumulative or because of a single severe incident, are well documented within the warehouse industry. Damaged racks must be unloaded and quarantined; in extreme circumstances, a rack might even fail altogether – with catastrophic results for the business and anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. The human cost, business disruption and reputational damage resulting from a racking collapse are lasting and severe. It is for this reason that responsible warehouse operators such as Europa are so meticulous about rack inspections, maintenance, and creating a culture in which drivers immediately report rack impacts. However, no human system is infallible, and a rack inspection is merely a snapshot in time. A rack impact can happen any time and, unless it is reported, damage can often go unnoticed until the next inspection.
“RackEye helps me to sleep better at night. It takes the worry away. ”
Because standards of driving were already high within the Europa transit warehouse, Yates says it is still too early to tell conclusively if there has been a change in driver behavior because of RackEye. However, he was encouraged to see that the system didn’t report any impacts during the company’s busiest period in November and December, “Normally at that time of year, there are a few knocks, but this year there was nothing,” he says. Drivers and employees on the shop floor cannot fail to spot the distinctive RackEye units fitted to the rack legs, and they have been supportive of the system, “They see it as the company caring about their safety,” Yates adds.
It has been a year since Europa has installed RackEye in its transit warehouse and Yates is delighted with both the system and the support he receives from the A-SAFE RackEye team, “I can call with any questions or issues and I know they will be there to help,” he says. “It’s like having my own personal support team on standby.” Yates and his team are still exploring some of the functions within RackEye; in particular, how data from the system can support performance measurement, “We are looking to do more with the KPI measurement, eventually.” For now, though, the system is doing everything Yates and his team hoped it would, and more, “RackEye helps me to sleep better at night. It takes the worry away. ”
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