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Forklift operators key in automated future

AITT Instructor

AITT reviews impact of new technologies and reveals need for adapted training services

The Association of Industrial Trucks Trainers has reinforced the continued need for consistent and reliable operator training within materials handling despite rise in automated operations.

Adam Smith, Managing Director of AITT, said: “We are living through ever-changing circumstances, but there are many opportunities to adapt and succeed. Operators will remain integral to materials handling in the vast majority of operations and even though they may work in partnership with automated systems, there will be no substitution for the duties they perform.

“It will, therefore, be essential for training providers to continue delivering in-depth, accredited training in line with the highest industry standards. AITT members for example, receive guidance, resources and ongoing advice to help them keep up with industry developments, including how to deliver COVID-secure training. By sharing information through our network, we hope to improve the effectiveness of training for the good of the industry both now and in the long-term.”

During a recent online conference hosted by AITT, automation was cited as major area of concern. In a poll of attendees, 75 percent said they are either concerned or recognise there is some risk as automation plays an ever-greater role within materials handling.

Phil Woodhall, Head of UK Sales Training and Product Management at Jungheinrich, presented at the event, discussing the rise of new technologies and where operators fit in to the ongoing evolution of lift trucks. He said: “Automation is very effective. Around 15 to 20 percent of the market is suitable for automation but there will still be a need for forklifts to load lorries in the yard. It’s about making marginal gains and implementing the changes necessary to stay sustainable, not just today but well into the future. That will involve manually operated trucks as well as semi and fully automated equipment.

“Even within the most fully automated site there will always be a need for conventional forklifts. And that will require training for operators and those with overall responsibility for handling operations.”

The conference also featured Graham Andrews, former Global Lead MHE Safety at Heineken, who provided great insight into the need for different training approaches, including e-learning. In addition, conference attendees heard from FLTA Chief Executive Tim Waples, who spoke about the support that only a proactive trade association can provide, including specialist, trusted, up-to-date guidance relating to many aspects of materials handling.

Adam Smith added: “Our online conference was a great way to bring people together to discuss the future of operator training, and we hope to hold similar events next year.”

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