What Businesses Use Platform Trucks and How Should They Be Used?
In today’s business world the movement of product is the ultimate goal as it correlates directly to sales and profit. Another way to look at the movement of product is the actual physical movement of the product from place to place – from manufacture facility to warehouse, from warehouse to transport vehicle, from transport vehicle to retail location, or directly to the customer.
Platform trucks are used by a variety of businesses that have the need to manually move medium sized loads of product or materials from place to place. These include manufacturing facilities, factories, warehouses, and any setting where the operations require the transport of goods and materials are needed to be performed efficiently, safely, and in a way that significantly reduces the risk damage to the product.
Efficiency, productivity, and safety are vitally important aspects of any business operation. The right equipment in the hands of a knowledgeable and competent operator provides the necessary combination required to meet these essential operational goals.
What functional features must a facility have in order to truly benefit from the purchase and use of platform trucks?
Most platform trucks are designed to be operated by one or two individuals for the moving of hundreds of pounds of materials across a flat surface. To accommodate this the following considerations should be evaluated to ensure that the purchase and use of platform trucks can effectively meet the purpose for which the investment is made.
· A flat transport surface. Because the use of a platform truck is to haul heavy loads, the surface on which the movement occurs must be flat and without noticeable cracks or significant interruptions in the smoothness of the surface where the wheels could become wedged. This could not only hinder the efficiency of the process but could also increase the likelihood of injury to workers as well as damage to goods and materials.
· A functionally designed facility. A clear transport path from place to place is essential in the use of platform trucks. Moving the heavy-laden platform truck requires the initial overcoming of inertia to get the truck rolling, but then the pathway from point “A” to point “B” must be clear of obstacles of any kind. These include any placement of product, tools, equipment, waste materials, and any other type of traffic that might take place in the facility. This requires a well-planned and laid out course that is not interrupted with the complexities of the myriad of functions that take place in a facility as part of the day to day operations.
As product and materials are moved from place to place, there may be the potential challenges of narrow hallways, sharp corners, entryways, elevators, gates, etc. With all of these, the determination must be made as to whether a platform truck can safely and effectively maneuver around or through these structural features within your facility.
How does the design of platform trucks help achieve these goals, and which is best for my business?
A platform truck is basically a non-motorized and very durable low-level flat surface that sits atop four wheels. Other features in the design that should be carefully considered when determining which platform truck best meets the purposes of your business are:
· What type of platform truck is best for your product transport needs? There are several types of platform trucks available that vary in height of the platform base, the type and length of the handle, the load capacity, the width and depth of the platform, the types of wheels and casters the platform has and how maneuverable the truck is, etc. Careful consideration should be taken to match the platform truck to the physical design features (or limitations) of the facility.
· How heavy are the loads you will need to transport on a single platform truck? Platform trucks come in a variety of carrying capacities ranging from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds. Careful consideration should be taken to ensure that the trucks used and the personnel using the trucks are matched for effective and safe use.
· What materials is the platform truck made of? Platform trucks may come with a platform made of strong and durable polyurethane or wood or steel, a stainless-steel frame, thermoplastic rubber casters of different sizes and thicknesses, permanently fixed or removable handle, etc.
What can management do to enhance the effectiveness of the use of platform trucks in product and material transport?
As previously stated, the efficiency, productivity, and safety of any business operation begins with good decisions being made by management and implemented through the ranks. Specific to the function of platform trucks, the management team can play an important role in achieving these goals by:
· Ensure that workers are thoroughly and properly trained. Training in the proper and safe use of the platform trucks is basic to a quality assurance program. Proper pulling and pushing techniques will decrease the risk of injury, including low back injuries that are high risk with any pushing and pulling activity. How to properly steer the platform in maneuvering around corners or obstacles, entering and exiting passageways, etc. Knowing the various parts of a platform truck and what is proper functioning can help identify deviations from the norm that may require maintenance work.
· Establishing a safe and functional load limit. The load capacity of a given platform truck may or may not be what your workers should be transporting. Ensuring that workers thoroughly understand that a load limit may be in the number of boxes allowed to transport versus just a weight limit. Here again, effectively matching the worker’s capabilities with the load capacity of the truck is important.
· Require organization. For smooth and efficient operations, consider labeling or numbering the platform trucks for availability, sequential use when applicable, and to ensure that they stay in the proper place and circumstances intended for each truck.
Take good care of this resource. Platform trucks are subjected to significant stressors of weight, repetitive use, and variable handling. Performing periodic and proper maintenance will ensure their continued use, worker safety, and prevent costly episodes from occurring.