Lift Truck Tips: How to make a lift truck speak your language

Voice-enabled mobile computers can condense the benefits of two or more technologies into one productive platform.

By ·

Amid the proliferation of lift truck technology, the operator has become burdened with the need to learn more than just knobs and levers. While juggling a smart phone, tablet, vehicle-mounted terminal, voice headset and RF scanner, the operator runs a risk of being less productive than he or she might have been with a good old fashioned sheet of paper. Having identified this potential problem, hardware and software manufacturers have worked to condense and combine technologies onto common devices on common platforms. The latest trend is the integration of voice technology with vehicle-mounted terminals, providing operators the clarity of a screen with the constant contact of voice.

“Those who have invested in voice are looking to leverage that investment for picking, packing, cycle counting or replenishment,” says Bruce Stubbs, industry marketing director for distribution center operations for Intermec. “There are lots of people looking to push the envelope even further and use voice with forklifts.”

Currently, that might entail equipping a forklift operator with a hip-mounted terminal with a wire extending to a headset. The operator must then manage the equipment on his body as well as the equipment on the truck. With the voice functionality piggybacked onto the vehicle mount, the operator need only wear an earpiece, increasing his mobility. But, the benefits go beyond safety and ergonomics.

Traditional vehicle mount screens are often designed to black out when in motion, in an effort to avoid distracting the operator. The productivity downsides of requiring a vehicle to remain stationary in order for the operator to receive information are obvious.

“With integrated voice, the screen can still black out, but the operator will have constant contact with the system while driving, picking or performing other tasks,” adds Stubbs.

The screen can provide additional information, such as images of the item or quantity to be picked, or even pallet-building diagrams. And, depending on the type of vehicle-mounted terminal, it might be detached and hip-mounted so that an operator can perform tasks independent of the lift truck. The lift truck might also feature integrated charging bays for terminals or Bluetooth headsets.

Additionally, the combination of previously independent hardware and software can simplify information technology and maintenance costs. The benefits of streamlined hardware and software also tend to reduce training time.

“It’s two things that once existed separately,” says Stubbs, “and now you can blend them and get the best of both worlds.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The Internet of Things and the Modern Supply Chain
Learn today how the internet of things is transforming supply chain operations.
Download Today!
From the February 2017 Issue
As the new administration sends waves of uncertainly through the global trade community, this could be the best time ever for shippers to build an investment case for GTM. Here are five trends you need to watch if you’re about to put these savvy systems to work
Carrier Consolidation Keeps Shippers Guessing
Getting Value from the Cloud
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Advance your career with the fastest growing logistics certification – APICS CLTD
During this webcast presenters will give an overview of APICS and the new Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designation. Learn how the CLTD program can help you stay on top of current trends and advance your career.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...

Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...
Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...