Pallet Truck for Health & Safety

Abstract

Transportation of cargo is crucial for the functioning of our society. In order to reach end customers road transportation with truck is required.

Heavy road transportation has increased. More than half of all truck drivers work with customer deliveries. These drivers can have up to 50 stops per day. The goods can weigh more than 1000 kg. The handling is done manually with a pallet truck. The varying context makes the work particularly heavy for the driver.

Loading and unloading is the most dangerous work a truck driver performs. The arms, back, and legs are most exposed in this stressful job. (Löntagaren no 4/2006)

The goal of the project was to design a new product which can replace the pallet truck in order to improve the safety and ergonomics.

Inspiration and Method

I have worked as a heavy truck driver myself during two years. I have also worked as forklift driver during several summers. I wanted to become an industrial designer so that I can improve the occupational health and safety for people through good design.

The project was sponsored by Linde Material Handling AB, which is one of the world's leading forklift manufacturers, and TYA, the Vocational Training and Working Environment Council for Transport Trades in Sweden. The project was also done in close collaboration with DHL AB, DB Schenker AB, and Godstransportservice AB.

Several field studies were done to get a broad understanding on how, what, and why things are done, and how users perceive their situation in the context. The observations have been recorded, photographed and filmed. I have built and evaluated several mock-ups with the users to find a good final solution.

Result

The project has resulted in a final design model and a report where the research and analysis, generated ideas, and evaluated design concepts are documented. The main conclusion from the project is that the heavy manual handling, vibrations and noise need to be minimized.

The evaluation of the design concepts during the project lead to a final model consisting of an electric forklift with a remote control. The new product will:

• remove the manual handling,
• reduce the risk for injuries,
• remove vibrations,
• reduce noise,
• provide better overview of the pallet truck, goods, and surroundings.

“Using a remote control would be optimal.
Our job would become much easier and safer.
The risks would definitely not increase,”
says Johan who is a truck driver.