Travis Perkins sounds out forklift alerts with Salford University

Builders merchant group Travis Perkins Group, is working with the University of Salford Manchester’s specialist acoustics testing team to conduct a study into the development of electric forklift truck sound alerts.

The study was commissioned to address concerns about the quietness of an electric forklift truck compared to a traditional diesel engine, and the potential safety risk this could pose. The aim is to work together to develop a sound alert for forward-moving electric forklift trucks to alert customers and colleagues, similary to the warning sounds that have been incorporated into electric vehicles to warn pedestrians and other vulnerable road users of their presence.

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“There should always be a safe distance between people and working machinery, but exclusion zones work best if people are alerted as they approach any high-risk areas. Given the pioneering nature of this decarbonisation project, research is required to ensure we develop alerts that work well as effective warning systems for both our operators, and the colleagues and customers who may come into contact with our exclusion zones,” says Richard Byrne, HSE & Fleet Director at Travis Perkins plc.

With support from Travis Perkins plc’s forklift provider Briggs Equipment, the research will involve the Group’s businesses, including Travis PerkinsBSS and CCF, to ensure the solution will be of optimum benefit for everyone.

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Dr Antonio Torija Martinez, Reader in Acoustical Engineering at the University, who is assisted by Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Tim Walton, will use innovative virtual reality (VR) technology alongside measurements from an anechoic chamber to help develop the most effective sound to make the electric forklifts as safe as they can be.

Once the outcome of this study is available later this year, there is potential for the findings to be shared with the industry to promote best practice, and for the electric forklift truck sound alerts to be applied as a new standard nationally and internationally.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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