Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Warehouse automation and safety for commercial real estate

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California...AKA, I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living.

I was asked recently by Cisco Eagle to provide commentary on automation and warehouse safety. Of course I was honored to participate!

I decided to crowd source the answer as well as relying upon my expertise and that of my client Raymond Handling Solutions.

If you would like to read the post you can click here.

I posed the following question on the material handling group on LinkedIn.

In your opinion, can safety "be automated" in warehousing facilities? Please explain.

Which produced the following answers:

Brian O'Reilly
Sales Manager - CT Products at Gorbel
With enough software and sensors, anything can be automated and made "safer". But as long as there is human presence in the warehouse, nothing can be guaranteed safe or accident-proof. And even in "Dark" warehouses with ASRS Systems, equipment malfunctions and items are damaged.
Parts & Service Sales Rep. at Thompson Lift Truck Company
I agree with Brian. Anything that is automated or Software controlled can malfunction. Anytime you add the human element, it's always a moving target. I've been in the Lift Truck business for over 25 yrs. and a Safety Trainer for over 16 yrs. Every aspect needs to be covered and Good Habits established. The only thing consistent is change.
Sales and Marketing Manager Latin America
Agree with Brian, everything can be automated, but we should consider that we only are reducing risk, but risk are still there, we can use all ultimate safety devices to avoid any injury in people, but still we most train people about risk and possible injuries if they don't take care about their own safety. Sick is probably the best choice in safety systems due to all their innovations in this area.
Advertising & E-Business Manager at Cisco-Eagle
Safety can't be "automated," but varying degrees of automation can be integrated into safety. Automation cannot guarantee safety unless a plant is empty of people. Items such as motion sensors or AisleCop gates to help people be more aware of forklift traffic simply help to enhance safety. In a sense, safety railing on stairways is safety "automation", but it's not useful if people simply climb over it. Also, in a sense, robots that do dangerous work are safety automation simply because they remove people from a hazardous area.
Avonwood The RFID Specialists
So very interesting points here. At Avonwood we have produced our ZoneSafe system which can be fitted to FLT's and other vehicles which alerts the driver that a pedestrian is near his vehicle. This is normally set to between 3 and 9 meters. However you can use the technology to alert pedestrian when a vehicle is in a certain area for example. We have always been quite clear that what we offer is an aid to safety and does not substitute for good existing practices and training, but it does go some way to help improving warehouse safety.
Associate / Team Member at Nestle S.A.
Having worked in the MH and Heavy Equipment environments and now in the processing and production area where the traffic is quite heavy share sentiments such as Scott that SAFETY can and must not be automated. Tony makes good points always that guards and company policies can be instigated to assist with the safety issues. I truly believe that SAFETY is something that must be properly trained for and thus each and every employee is subject to the responsibility of looking after themselves and ALL those around them. Cheers.
I discovered that there is a big beautiful pool of expertise out there just waiting to be utilized! Thanks all for your participation and to Susie Romans for the opportunity!