Even before the onset of COVID-19, e-commerce was booming, but midway through 2020 those figures are climbing to new highs. According to National Real Estate Investor, total e-commerce sales make up 15% of retail sales in the US – a number is said to increase to 39% by 2030 based on CBRE data. According to the same article, there has been a significant increase in hiring by major US retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target, to meet their warehousing personnel needs. But to accommodate that massive growth, they need warehouses and lots of them. More warehouses mean more forklifts, which means an increased possibility of accidents. Recently, we announced the launch of the VIA Mobile360 AI Forklift Safety Kit to enable warehouse operators to address this issue. Here are five ways that the kit helps to prevent accidents.
Typically, the DMS (Driver Monitoring System) is used to monitor driver attentiveness, but it can also perform other functions. As the first step to improving safety, the DMS has the flexibility to make sure that only authorized operators use the equipment. Basic forklift operation might seem simple enough for a “helpful” colleague to try to use one to help out, but the correct and safe operation of a forklift is much more difficult, as can be seen by a quick search for “forklift accidents” on YouTube. To prevent forklift operation by unauthorized personnel, the DMS can be configured to identify the driver using facial recognition technology, eliminating any chance of someone borrowing an ID card to gain access. As a result, only authorized personnel with appropriate professional training and experience can use the equipment.
The DMS also monitors driver behavior. Even the most professional drivers can fall into bad habits, which can lead to accidents. The DMS offers an extra layer of protection to prevent some of the most common infractions, detecting signs of fatigue such as yawning, closed eyes, and head down, as well as signs of distraction such as phone use, looking away, and smoking. If any of these are detected, the DMS will automatically trigger a visual or audio alert to remind the driver to correct their behavior. In addition to the DMS, the kit also supports speeding alerts via the CAN bus and a seat belt sensor to further boost driver safety.
Now that a competent and authorized driver is in the vehicle, VIA Mobile360 SVS (Surround View System) technology comes into play. It uses four outward-facing cameras to shoot a 360-degree panoramic view and combines the video input to produce a 3D rendering of the vehicle and its surroundings. This unique exterior 360-degree panoramic video stream is displayed on the high-resolution 7″ screen in the cabin. Instead of relying on someone outside the forklift to keep an eye open for dangers, the driver can have that same unique view of the vehicle’s surroundings, and instantly see when people or other vehicles come too close.
The 360-degree view is just the start. In practice, it is still difficult to visually judge distance or proximity, hence the requirement for, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” warning messages on car rearview mirrors in some locales. The Tri-Band viewer solves the visual distance issue, overlaying proximity indicators over the 360-degree 3D view of the forklift. The Tri-Band viewer adds three circles to indicate proximity: a green circle at five meters, a yellow circle at three meters, and a red circle at one meter. With these visual cues, the system plays the role of supervisor keeping an eye out. By shaving valuable milliseconds off response times, operators can quickly take evasive action and prevent an accident.
Dynamic Moving Object Detection
Visual cues are a vital first step in improving driver situational awareness, but the DMOD (Dynamic Moving Object Detection) support from both the front and rear cameras adds another layer of protection during forklift operation. When it detects a potential safety threat such as when a person or another vehicle moves into close range, DMOD will sound an alarm so that the driver can immediately take evasive action. In crowded and busy warehouses where it’s impossible for operators to see everything that’s going on around them, this additional alarm can make the difference between a serious collision and a near-miss. In today’s increasingly fast-paced warehouse environments, where there is a heightened chance of careless or accidental mistakes, the VIA Mobile360 AI Forklift Safety Kit provides an “undistractible”, never tiring, second set of eyes, to keep forklift operations safer than ever. To learn more, please click here.