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Could Autonomous Trucks Be Far Behind?

self driving carEvery day seems to bring more and more news about the future of the automotive industry…

 

  • Uber will introduce self-driving cars in Pittsburgh within the next few weeks while Singapore introduced driverless taxis this week.
  • Ford has jumped into the fray, promising its customers a fully autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals by 2012.
  • Apple hinted that it plans to deliver its self-driving cars to the market at least a year earlier.
  • Auto parts makers Delphi and Mobileye are reportedly developing a plug-in device that could allow any recently-built car or truck to drive itself.

 

But now the innovative electric car maker Tesla has announced news that could change everything.

A Battery that Lasts 300+ Miles

Up until now, the biggest drawback to electric vehicles has been their range. While the battery-powered Chevrolet Volt, the Ford Focus Electric, and even the BMW i3 are growing in popularity, right now few mass-produced electric cars can go further than 100 miles without recharging.

That has required drivers to plan carefully before taking their vehicles out of the garage. While 100 miles may seem like a long distance, the distance on the odometer can add up very quickly while you are out running errands or driving your kids to soccer practice. Guess wrong and your environmentally-conscious electric car is little more than a high-priced roadside paperweight.

But Tesla’s announcement that has developed a new battery that can travel up to 315 miles — about the same range as your typical tank of gas — without recharging could be the breakthrough the industry has been waiting for.

Tesla’s Model S Sedan will soon feature the 315-mile range battery, according to reports. While the car’s high price tag of about $70,000 could prevent most drivers from getting behind the wheel of the long-distance electric vehicle, if the battery is included in the company’s more affordable Model 3, which has a price tag of about $35,000, it could transform more traditional drivers into electric vehicle believers.

A True Driving Revolution

Self-driving electric cars with a range of 300 miles or farther are something that most drivers — and car company engineers, for that matter — could only dream about just a few years ago. But today that future is just around the corner.

When it arrives, it could revolutionize not only the way we drive, but the way products are delivered to our doors, how productive we are, how much we spend on fuel, and even how much influence industries such as oil have on the global economy.

 

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Here is a special sneak preview of upcoming stories you will soon see on the Bahrns blog:

  • Robot cars that run on battery power are no longer science fiction. They increasingly are becoming the norm as the auto industry undergoes a major revolution.
  • Laser reactive marking technology is the new wave which does away with ink based labels and marking equipment.
  • Teenage truck drivers could soon be sharing the road as the federal government launches a new trial program in response to the growing truck driver shortage.

All this and  much, much more can be found coming soon on the Bahrns Blog … so stay tuned!

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happy employees are productive employeesEach year, millions of teenagers get their first job. But whether it’s working a fast food restaurant or helping out at a construction site, there are workplace dangers at just about every workplace.

Unfortunately, many young workers aren’t aware of their rights under the law — especially their right to work in a safe workplace. But a new government-sponsored website hopes to change all that.

Young Workers’ Webpage

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a new Young Workers’ Webpage that advises workers between the ages of 15 and 24 who are perhaps starting their first-ever job of  their rights and their employers’ responsibilities.

The site — which features bright, primary colors and simple, easy-to-understand language — includes information about potential workplace hazards, as well as first-person testimonials from teen workers who suffered on the job injuries.

Right to a Safe Workplace

Many young workers may still be in high school, so they may not be that aware of their rights in the workplace.

But the new website provides young workers information they may not have already known about their rights at work, including that they have a right to:

  • Work in a safe place
  • Receive safety and health training in a language that they understand
  • Ask questions if they don’t understand instructions or if something seems unsafe
  • Use and be trained on safety gear, such a hard hats, goggles and ear plugs
  • Exercise their workplace safety rights without retaliation or discrimination

The website also lets new workers know that  they have a right to file a confidential complaint with OSHA if they believe there is a serious workplace hazard or if their employer is not following OSHA standards.

Employer Responsibilities

It can be hard for young people to know what they can expect from their employers because they may have nothing to compare it to if it is their first job.

But according to the website, employers are required to provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards. They also must follow all OSHA safety and health standards, as well as provide training about potential workplace hazards.

Employers also must provide any required safety gear and they must pay for most types of safety gear. They also need to tell young, new workers where they can go to get answers to any safety or health questions they might have.

Plus, employers need to educate young people on what to do if they get hurt on the job, according to the website.

 

 

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Is a Low-Cost Lift Right For You?

24 Aug 2016

No Comments.

 

Good managers know that they need to depend on forklift fleets that have a mix of both low-cost low-cost and premium lifts. (Courtesy: CTF 70 at flickr.com)

Good managers know that they need to depend on forklift fleets that have a mix of both low-cost and premium lifts.
(Courtesy: CTF 70 at flickr.com)

Like many products, dealers are selling forklifts on a good, better, best strategy. Of course, the mid-range lift truck market will account for most of the sales. The larger warehouses favor the upper tier premium trucks that feature the bells and whistles including data capturing ability and integration ability with warehouse management software. The trucks that are supposed to cater to the low-end segment of the market don’t have the bells and whistles or many of the same features one would find on the mid-range models.

In recent years North American forklift manufacturers have been seeing a major increase in sales of low-cost models. More dealers who handle lower cost lifts as well as dealers who import low-cost lifts are popping up. In order to compete with the sale of the mid-range lifts, they are offering not just the lift trucks, but also parts and service. However, there are also dealers and manufacturers of low-cost lifts who do not provide the service or support. These dealers recommend that warehouses hire other forklift manufacturers to service the equipment. This may cause warehouses that buy the low-cost alternatives with no service to experience delays in the delivery of parts when they need them.

The top manufacturers who have already established a reputation that are expanding their lines to include low-cost lifts have made it a point to offer and emphasize support for their existing dealer networks.

The temptation may be there for a warehouse forklift fleet manager to go for the lowest up-front cost that does not include the support. So the issue of total cost of ownership concerning the purchase of new lift trucks continues to be an open one. Many dealers and manufacturers are of the opinion that some fleet managers are not thinking about this as they opt for the cheaper alternative. Those who are opting for the low-cost lifts need to be aware that these products may be using components with shorter life expectancy.

Good managers are aware that they need to depend on fleets that have a mix of both low-cost and premium equipment. In fact, savings that occur when purchasing low-cost trucks can be used to fill in the fleet with the upper tier trucks because they have the high-end features needed for some tasks the fleet is called on to perform.

There was a time when forklift manufacturers were expanding their product range based on the latest trends so that they could differentiate themselves from the competition. However, now manufacturers are making decisions on expanding their range based on need. An example of this is a manufacturer that created a new reach model with four-directional travel capability. The manufacturer recognized a need for a truck that could handle long, bulky loads.

As a result of all this, dealers have to carry a wider range of lift models, brands, and services.

Lift manufacturers also note that dealers must become better prepared to handle the changes in their customers’ businesses as well as the growth and changes of the workforce. They suggest that larger distribution centers are concentrating on the cutting edge of labor productivity. So they are looking to rotate and rebalance their equipment every two to three years to take advantage of new technologies.

Warehouses that decide to go with low-cost equipment should focus on the product only.

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Cobra PROe in Action (Photo courtesy of Atlas Copco)

Photo courtesy of Atlas Copco

Every year, an estimated 22 million workers risk losing all or part of their hearing as a result of workplace noise hazards. Now two government agencies are turning to a group experts for ideas on how to reduce workplace noise: The workers themselves.

“Hear and Now – The Noise Safety Challenge” is a national contest in which workers can submit their ideas for cutting down on workplace noise.

The contest is co-sponsored by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which will select the top 10 submissions. Finalists will then be invited to present their ideas to a panel of judges in Washington, D.C.

Strike It Rich with Noise Reduction Ideas

That panel will be composed of potential investors, representatives of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and administrators from the NIOSH Research to Practice Program, according to an OSHA news release.

Each year, hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million in workers’ compensation.

While there is no cash reward for the best idea, if contest participants present cost-effective ideas that could reduce workplace noise significantly, they could face a kind of “Shark Tank” situation in which business people on the judging panel may be willing to invest in their ideas.

Hints for Noise Reduction Ideas

In announcing the contest, OSHA identified three potential areas that contests participants could focus their creativity:

  • Technology that enhances employer training and improve effective use of hearing protection
  • Technology that alerts workers when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss
  • Technology that allows workers to hear important alerts of human voices while remaining protected from harmful noise.

Ideas can be submitted at this government website. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 30. The people submitting the top 10 ideas will be invited to make their presentations on Oct. 27, although OSHA will not pay their transportation or housing costs.

Dangers of Workplace Noise

Exposure to loud noises in the workplace and elsewhere can kill delicate nerve endings in the inner ear. The more exposure workers have to loud noises, the higher the chance of permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected by surgery or medications.

Even short-term exposure to loud noises can cause a temporary change in hearing or tinnitus, which is a sustained ringing in the ears. Short-term hearing loss will generally go away after a few minutes or hours of leaving the noisy area. But repeated exposure to loud noises can result in permanent tinnitus, hearing loss, or both.

 

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Here is a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find coming soon on the Bahrns blog:

  • Young, new workers don’t always know or understand their rights, but a new website designed to inform and educate workers aged 15 to 24 could change all that …
  • Will taking the “Low-Cost” forklift route work for your business? That depends on many variables. We’ll tell you what those are …
  • More than 22 million workers lose all or some of their hearing as a result of loud workplace noise. Now two federal agencies are asking workers for their ideas on how to reduce noise risks in the workplace …

All this and much, much more can be found coming soon on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!

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Normal_tire,_spare_and_jack

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Most young people wouldn’t know what to do if they were to get a flat tire while driving … other than using an app to call for help.

According to a survey conducted by Michelin, 52% of teens lack the basic auto repair skills required to change a flat tire.

But they aren’t the only ones clueless when it comes to flat tire repairs. About a third of women surveyed by Insurance.com admitted that they also wouldn’t know where to begin if one of their wheels suddenly went flat.

About 90% of men said they know how to change a tire, according to a AAA survey.

Tire Repair Safety

Changing a tire is actually a relatively simple task that doesn’t require extraordinary skill or even strength. The biggest danger isn’t your car or tire, it’s other drivers who are zooming past and who may not be able to see you when you are changing a flat on the side of the road.

That’s why it’s important to pull your car as far as possible from traffic before attempting to change a flat tire. If possible, pull into a parking lot or rest area to change your tire. You may even consider making it to a gas station or repair garage if it’s within sight. Don’t worry about damaging your already flattened tire: Your safety and security are more important than the cost of replacing a shredded tire.

You may even consider making it to a gas station or repair garage if it’s within sight if you are in a fast, heavily trafficked area. Your safety and security are more important than the cost of replacing a shredded tire.

Ideally, the tire that is flat should be on the side of the vehicle that is away from traffic. For example, if your front or rear passenger’s side tire is flat, pull to the right on a highway or expressway.

Do You Even Have a Spare?

If you do get a flat, even if you do know how to change it you may be surprised to know that your car doesn’t even have a spare tire.

Since new emission standards went into effect in the mid-2000s, automakers have been looking for ways to make cars and trucks lighter and safer. One way has been to ditch the spare tire altogether.

About 36 percent of all new cars sold in the US in 2016 will not have a spare tire or the jack, crowbar, or other tools needed to make the roadside repair.

Instead, calls to AAA and other auto repair services are on the rise and drivers of all ages use their smartphones rather than their repair skills to deal with flat tires.

 

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In Part One of my series on OSHA Regulations Concerning Industrial Trucks, I discussed responsibilities warehouse executive have in assure safe forklift operations.

Forklifts can be dangerous if not properly used and maintained. OSHA Rule 1910.178 covers all aspects of the safe operation of a powered industrial truck. (Courtesy: Bryan Van Devender at flickr.com)

Forklifts can be dangerous if not properly used and maintained. OSHA Rule 1910.178 covers all aspects of the safe operation of a powered industrial truck.
(Courtesy: Bryan Van Devender at flickr.com)

In part Two, I discussed what OSHA expected warehouses to do concerning the training of forklift operators.

In Part Three, I covered OSHA requirements concerning pre-use inspections and operations of a forklift.

In Part Four, I covered what OSHA requires concerning unattended vehicles and maintenance and fueling procedures.

In Part Five, I will discuss the various checklists OSHA requires warehouses use to keep records concerning forklift use and maintenance.

Operator’s Daily Checklist – Electric Vehicles

A checklist to evaluate the condition of electric vehicles should be filled out daily. The checklist should include the following:

·      Truck Number
·      Date
·      Operator’s Name
·      Hour Motor Reading
·      Supervisor Signature

Under “Visual Checks” there should be nine categories listed:

·      Obvious damage and leaks
·      Tire/Wheel Condition
·      Battery plug connection
·      Head and taillights
·      Hour meter
·      Other gauges and instruments
·      Battery discharge indicator
·      Fire extinguisher

Under “Operational Checks” there should be seven categories:

·      Horn
·      Steering
·      Brakes
·      Parking brake
·      Vehicle movement; forward and reverse
·      Lift, tilt side shift controls

Three boxes should be beside each category. One box must be checked.

·      OK
·      Needs Attention or Repair
·      Not Applicable

Operator’s Daily Checklist – Gas, LPG and Diesel Vehicles

·      Include “OK”, “Needs Attention or Repair” “Not Applicable” check boxes beside each category.
·      Truck Number
·      Date
·      Operator Name
·      Hour Meter Reading Start of Day
·      Supervisor Signature

Visual Checks has 11 categories:

·      Engine oil level
·      Radiator water level
·      Fuel level
·      Battery water level
·      Obvious damage and leaks
·      Tire condition
·      Head and taillights
·      Warning lights
·      Hour meter
·      Other gauges and instruments
·      Fire extinguisher

Operational Checks has five categories:

·      Horn
·      Steering
·      Brakes
·      Parking brake
·      Lift, tilt, side shift controls

Operator’s Daily Checklist – Gas, LPG and Diesel Vehicles

This checklist should be used for field session evaluation of forklift operator proficiency as well as periodic evaluation of operators. Each category should have four boxes beside it with one box to be checked.

·      Good
·      Fair
·      Poor
·      N/A

Checklist should also include:

·      Operator Name
·      Evaluator Name
·      Date of Evaluation
·      Equipment Operated

Pre-use Inspection

·      Follow the operator’s daily checklist
·      Look for damage
·      Document all findings on appropriate checklist

Pick Up A Load

·      Square up on the center of the load
·      Stop with the fork tips about 1 foot from the load
·      Level the forks; then slowly drive forward until the load contacts the carriage
·      Lift the load carefully and smoothly until it is clear
·      Tilt the mast back slightly to stabilize the load
·      Look over both shoulders
·      After out and stopped, lower the load to travel height

Traveling

·      Do nut raise or lower the load and fork while traveling
·      Maintain a safe speed
·      Observe all traffic rules, warning signs, floor load limits and overhead clearances
·      Keep arms and legs inside the powered forklift
·      Follow other vehicles at a safe distance
·      Slow down when cornering
·      Use the horn to alert others
·      Travel with the load facing uphill while on a ramp or incline
·      Stop smoothly

Putting Down A Load

·      Make sure there is sufficient clearance for the load
·      Clear personnel from the area near the load
·      Square up to the location; then stop about 1 foot away
·      Raise the load to placement level
·      Move slowly forward
·      If the load is on a pallet, lower it into position and lower the forks further
·      Look over both shoulders before backing out
·      Back straight out until the forks have cleared
·      Lower the forks to traveling position

Parking

·      Fully lower the forks
·      Neutralize the controls
·      Set the brakes
·      Turn off the power
·      If parked on an incline, block the wheels
·      Park only in authorized areas

Fueling and Battery Recharging

·      Engine off
·      Fire extinguisher nearby
·      Proper personal protective equipment
·      Safe fueling and battery recharging procedures followed
·      Spills cleaned up immediately

Evaluation

·      Check box beside each of following
·      Based on my evaluation, the operator has successfully completed the evaluation and is qualified to operate the following equipment
·      Based on my evaluation, the operator has not demonstrated competence in operating the following equipment

Provide space to write in equipment type for each evaluation, evaluator’s signature and operator’s signature.

Order Picker Operator Evaluation Form

This checklist should be used to evaluate the field session of a forklift operator’s proficiency and for periodic evaluation that operators are operating order pickers properly.

Check box besides each category:

·      Good
·      Fair
·      Poor
·      N/A

Pre-use Inspection

·      Follow the operator’s daily checklist
·      Look for damage
·      Document all findings on the checklist

Fall protection

·      Make sure fall protection is in place before beginning work
·      Inspect all components of the fall protection system before use
·      Make sure fall protection is worn correctly

Traveling with an order picker

·      Clear a path in the aisle
·      Travel with the operator’s platform as low as possible
·      Keep hands, feet and head inside the vehicle at all times
·      Go slowly when coming out of aisles and into cross traffic
·      Use the horn to alert others

Pick up a pallet

·      Back into the pallet at ground level until the forks are completely under it and the pallet contacts the platform
·      Lock the pallet on

Raising the platform

·      Remain stationary
·      Watch for overhead clearance

Pulling materials out of racking

·      Use good body mechanics
·      Position the machine so materials are at waist level
·      Do not force materials into or out of the racks
·      Use tubs or bins on the pallet
·      Fill the pallet from front to back; putting the heavier parts toward the platform
·      Stay on the work surface
·      If the operator cannot reach the materials, pull the pallet down, rearrange the materials and return it to the rack

Moving with the platform raised

·      Move slowly in a straight line in rack aisles
·      Avoid turning
·      Go slowly and watch for obstructions

Placing pallets

·      Return the load to the pallet staging area
·      Lower the pallet to ground level before releasing it
·      Look over both shoulders
·      Carefully reverse direction

Parking

·      Lower the machine to the lowest position
·      Turn the key to “off”
·      Fire extinguisher nearby
·      Proper personal protective equipment
·      Safe fueling and battery recharging
·      Spills cleaned up immediately

Check box besides each of the following:

·      Based on my evaluation, the operator has successfully completed the evaluation and is qualified to operate the following equipment:
·      Based on my evaluation, the operator has not demonstrated competence in operating the following equipment:
·      Provide space where equipment type can be written in and for evaluator and operator signatures.

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ratchet strapMoving a load on the back of a flatbed, pickup, or even in the trunk of your personal car can be tricky. If the load shifts or tips during transport, it could spill or even fall out of your vehicle. And if you can’t see it because your vision is obstructed, you may not even realize it’s gone until you stop … or another driver honks wildly at you!

It’s always a good idea to secure loads whenever you transport them, regardless of their size. Even small loads, such as packages or bicycles, can create hazards to other drivers if they fall out of your car or truck while you are transporting them.

Benefits of Bungee Cords

Bungee cords are stretchable elastic that is typically wrapped in a protective nylon sleeve and capped on either end with metal hooks. They are helpful for securing small, lighter weight loads in the back or tops of cars, SUVs, or pickup trucks.

Bungee cords are convenient and inexpensive. They also come in a variety of lengths and widths, so you can choose the best bungee cords for your particular job.

But bungee cords don’t prove as secure a bond as other types of vehicular restraints. Plus, if you buy cheaply bungees or try to use them beyond their limits, they can snap or the metal hooks at the ends can fall off. If that happens, it not only can threaten the integrity of your load but also given the rubber band nature of bungees, the bungees or metal hooks themselves can present a hazard.

Ratchet Straps

For larger, heavier loads, ratchet straps are usually a better bet. Ratchet straps feature bands made from canvas or sometimes nylon. These bands are typically wider than and stronger than most bungee cords and are secured by buckles that usually are made from strong, reinforced steel.

As the name implies, ratchet straps also feature a ratchet that can be tightened either by hand — or, in some cases, mechanically —  to better hold your payload in place.

Ratchet straps generally are used on flatbeds to secure such things as heavy machinery, lumber, pipes or rods, rolled steel, and other industrial materials.

But ratchet straps also can be used with cars and trucks to increase the safety and security of transported loads. For example, if you are going on vacation and want to strap your luggage to the rack on top of your car or SUV, a ratchet strap is generally safer and more reliable than bungee cords.

 

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Here is a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find coming soon on the Bahrns blog:

  • When transporting materials on flatbeds, in pickup truck beds, or even in car trunks, it’s always a good idea to secure them. But what’s the best method? We’ll take a look …
  • In the Know: Powered Industrial Trucks and some of the OSHA regulations involved with these industrial machines. Read part five …
  • A recent survey found that 52% of Millennials wouldn’t have a clue what to do if they were to get a flat tire … other than using an app on their smartphone, that is. But we’ll explain why changing tires may be no longer be a skill most drivers need anymore …

All this and much, much more can be found coming soon on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!

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