Going beyond a driver behavior detection safety assistant, the AI-enabled forklift expands its safety and productivity role to those around it in the bustling workspace.
Beyond Driver Safety
Driver safety, performance, and productivity will always be key roles for the AI-enabled forklift. Detection of driver fatigue and distracting behaviors like smoking or smartphone usage can help optimize driver awareness and performance in immediately tangible ways.
But with an AI-enabled forklift, you also get a smarter workplace workhorse, which increases the safety and productivity of the people and objects in and around the forklift’s environment.
The Importance of People Detection
In the fast-paced physical world, we often wish we had eyes in the back of our heads to identify both threats and opportunities. On the warehouse or factory floor, the forklift is both friend and foe, as the tool that delivers the most productivity gains but which also presents the biggest threat to others in its environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) records an average of 110,000 forklift accidents per year in the US alone.
People are, both morally and financially, your most valuable logistics asset and they are typically everywhere doing all kinds of key tasks on the warehouse floor. They often outnumber forklifts and they are the most nimble, trainable, flexible, and productive resource you’ve got. They’re also your most erratic, easily damaged and unpredictable resource.
Outward-facing cameras mounted on the forklift as part of the AI DSS enabled solutions become additional viewpoints for drivers, permitting onboard AI to assist in crucial safety and performance decision-making moments with reference to the people and objects around it. An AI-enabled environment and situational awareness provide exponentially more information for driver decisions.
These decisive moments impact accident and employee injury rates, insurance and legal costs, inventory damages, downtime, and productivity disruptions, not to mention the physical and mental toll on those directly and indirectly affected by forklift accidents.
The Nuts and Bolts of People Detection
Bolting on accident-preventing, smart people-detecting AI solutions like VIA’s Mobile360 Forklift Safety System are one of the quickest ways to make your forklift and operator smarter, and getting the immediate assistance AI can provide for reducing accidents by detecting people.
High-resolution 720p cameras mounted on the forklift represent sensitive extra eyes to assist the forklift operator. The required or prioritized fields of view are different for every workplace environment so the positioning (angle and direction) of cameras needs to be flexible to your situation. Overhead guard frames for the forklift cab are often the ideal location for mounting brackets or magnets, offering variable heights and angle placement.
Cameras need to be built tough and water resistant to withstand the rugged workplace environments and provide longevity for your solution investment.
Sensing eyes need to connect to AI brains and the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System can detect and recognize people. Differentiating people from objects can be pivotal in assisting forklift operators to react quickly and make the correct decisions in a wide variety of situations and environments.
The workspace environment also has to be taken into account when deciding on how to communicate important people detection decisions to the forklift operator. Audible alerts might be appropriate for quieter environments, whereas noisier ones might require a visual cue to operators. Audible cues might also alert people in proximity to the forklift while visual cues might also provide more nuanced information to the operator for a wider range of appropriate response options. Knowing if a person is close by and getting closer might elicit a different driver response than knowing a person is a safe static distance away.
Calibration for Safety and Performance
It’s all fine and dandy to give drivers more AI-provided information and awareness to make situational decisions, but how do you go a step further in reducing errors and stress, improving productivity and safety for drivers making hundreds if not thousands of little decisions on a shift to shift basis?
The calibration of your smart forklift safety system, both hardware and software, greatly affects your productivity and safety goals. It enhances the assistance AI can give your operation and it impacts everything from your safety record, training capabilities, and employee well-being, to your bottom line. How best to calibrate your AI-powered forklift solution is the topic of my next post.
This post was originally published on 02-06-2022 at The Future and Now of Materials Handling substack. Sign up for Tim Brown’s unique perspectives on how emerging technologies such as AI and the cloud have the potential to transform the industry.