How replacing forklifts with AMRs increases safety
In modern manufacturing decreasing production time for varying lots of improved quality and quantity is increasing pressure on operational efficiency. Not only does this provide operational concerns, this can come at the risk of employee safety and workplace injuries occur too often. This threatens employee welfare, workflow and the bottom line.
In fact, a recent survey of top-level decision makers in global manufacturing found that 72% saw collisions and other shop floor accidents as a very challenging or challenging business issue.
And the worry is not unfounded, in the US alone there is a 90% probability of a forklift being involved in a serious injury or fatality accident over its lifetime. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration also estimates that forklifts account for 61,800 minor injuries and 34,900 serious injuries a year. All of these can require days away from work, yet the number number of non-fatal injuries has risen steadily since 2016.
Given that a forklift can weigh 3 times as much a car at about 9,000 pounds (4082kg), only has front brakes and can reach 18mph, it’s unsurprising that when accidents do occur they also result in disproportionality more severe injuries than most other workplace incidents.
Therefore, today’s business leaders are looking to the latest technology like autonomous mobile robots (AMR) to tackle this challenge head on and protect their workers and business, with 63% of manufacturers saying that AMR would help improve worker safety.
Autonomous mobile robots are a collaborative, safe and flexible alternative to forklifts on the factory floor. Not only do the latest models such as the MiR1000 have a payload of 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs), but they can also automatically pick up, transport and deliver pallets through dynamic environments, removing humans from riskier environments.
The MiR robots also have two laser scanners, 3D cameras and proximity sensors that feed data into a planning algorithm. This allow the robot to navigate autonomously as well as respond to humans or obstacles on its way and navigate safely around them.
And, unlike a human operated forklift which is controlled by split second decisions that can be impeded by human error, AMRs are programmed to always encounter it’s surroundings well in advance and always either reroute or make a safety stop if someone gets too close.
While the role of the forklift will remain necessary for many operations, adding autonomous mobile robots to the mix, will help keep staff healthy and safe by taking on repetitive, risk-prone work while reducing the risks of collisions.