Linde Materials Handling explains what it is doing to help customers through COVID-19, including information on social distancing, truck maintenance and regulatory compliance
Countries and businesses around the world are busy preparing for life after lockdown, producing detailed plans for what will become their new normal.
With “business as usual” now a distant memory, all businesses need to make significant changes as we move into this next phase.
What remains crucial is to maintain the focus on maximising safety for all, while making every effort to recommence and ramp back up operations which will help kick start the economy.
Jeremy Caddick, Senior Director Aftersales at Linde Material Handling, said: “For many businesses who have had to temporarily shut down or significantly scale back operations, planning for this recovery phase is a critical and in some cases daunting task.
"As well as the obvious safety considerations to prioritise, it is important for businesses within their recovery plans not to overlook actions relating to their material handling equipment. As an MHE service provider we have a duty to support and advise our business partners during this difficult period.
"The right steps taken through this next phase can not only protect the health and wellbeing of employees, customers and suppliers, but also mean maximum availability of your MHE fleets and operators right when you need them most to help power your recovery.”
Linde’s Truck Call app helps reduce personal contact to a minimum by enabling contactless work processes. These include remote communication with suppliers, reducing direct contact between logistics staff, offering digital call functions and the option to repeat jobs based on a predefined favourite option.
The Truck Call app works in a similar way to modern taxi apps like Uber, where the taxi company receives a request for a pick-up which is then sent out to all the company’s drivers until one accepts the order. Not only does this simplify and speed up communication between fleet managers and drivers, it does so remotely without the need for personal contact between the two.
Day-to-day, the Truck Call app can help with scenarios such as late deliveries or unscheduled jobs by allowing faster communication between supervisors and drivers. Through the app, shift supervisors can enter transport orders into the system from their smartphone, tablet or computer along with an urgency level for the job. The app informs all available drivers, if a driver accepts an order online it disappears from the system and once the job is complete the shift supervisor receives a notification.
The app is available for download from the Google Play Store and is ready to use as soon as the user registers, visit www.linde-mh.co.uk for more information on how to register. A six month free trial is available for both new and existing customers who register for the first time between 1 May and 31 July. If customers want to keep using the app after the free test period ends, they can sign up through the Linde Truck Call web portal.
Truck and battery condition
Whether businesses are facing a period of continued shutdown, or busy preparing for operational ramp-up, it is important to factor in periodic checks of the condition of your MHE fleet. These checks can highlight issues which can easily be rectified in advance of operations recommending.
Periodic checks of traction batteries along with maintenance or equalisation charging are particularly crucial even where sites have to remain closed or scaled back. Modern smart chargers can do this automatically but would not function as designed if for example, a site’s power supply has been isolated in the case of a full shutdown.
Failure to review and address an issue like this could render an entire fleet inoperative and create an easily avoidable and potentially costly delay to any operational ramp up.
It is vital that your MHE maintenance and thorough examination inspections are kept up to date to ensure you comply with all appropriate legislation. These responsibilities should not be overlooked even during a shutdown.
Caddick said: ”The Health and Safety Executive has provided useful guidance notes and proposed contingencies for managing these inspection processes while under COVID-19 restrictions.
"The HSE has recognised many challenges in complying with these regulations at this time, but has reiterated that these statutory obligations remain in place so you should be sure to factor a review of your MHE fleet maintenance and Thorough Examination schedules into your operational ramp up planning.
"You may also want to consider bringing these inspections forward and completing them earlier than initially scheduled. This can ensure the inspections themselves, plus any preventative maintenance or repairs identified during them, can be completed now and therefore not interrupt your operational ramp up and business recovery activities at a later date.”
Operator training records should also be reviewed and factored into your ramp up planning. Certificates of training specify a date by which refresher training should be undertaken. Once again, the HSE has provided useful guidelines for businesses.
Where recertification cannot take place due to the current situation, short term contingencies have been agreed allowing the temporary extension of expired licences for a maximum of three months. That being said, every effort needs to be made to recertify your trained operators as soon as it is practical to do so.
For other businesses in critical industry sectors, increased demands and business activities during this period have presented a different challenge. Additional employees and temporary staff have been taken on in large numbers and urgent operator training has been required for new MHE operatives.
At Linde Material Handling we have had to flexibly adjust our own operator training proposition to support this demand. Adapted one-to-one training has been developed that has allowed us to complete new operator training yet remain fully compliant with the Government guidelines on social distancing.
Support and advice
Linde Material Handling can support businesses with a number of solutions and services at this time – through safety products and solutions, fleet and battery health checks, condition monitoring, battery cleaning and maintenance, scheduled and preventative maintenance and inspection services.
Most importantly, we can offer clear information and advice – advice that will help businesses get back up and running in a safe, efficient and cost-effective way.
You can find out all the information you need including HSE guidance documents at www.linde-mh.co.uk.