Using the cloud to improve forklift driver safety


At BASF’s Pudong site in Shanghai, 250 forklift drivers lift and load 260,000 tons of goods and materials every year. BASF wanted to investigate how technology might improve safety for its fleet of 67 forklift trucks at Pudong.

A cross-functional team from BASF worked with its forklift supplier to develop a new management system for forklift drivers. The digital system uses 4G technology to connect drivers and supervisors to a cloud-based platform that is designed to improve safety in several ways. It encourages drivers to take more ownership of the vehicles. It also automates actions if there is a collision and collects data on fleet safety.

Drivers are assigned to individual forklifts through a data chip in their company badge. By matching a driver to a vehicle, and allowing only that person to operate the vehicle at any given time, it is clear which driver is responsible for a specific forklift. Access to forklift is restricted to authorized drivers with the correct license and training.

If a collision does occur, another feature of the system automatically springs into action. A vibration sensor embedded in the forklift detects the collision and instantly sends information to the management system. Upon registering the severity of incident, the system can trigger automatic safety measures such as reducing the speed or even shutting down the vehicle.

As well as improving safety, the new system has a host of features that bolster fleet efficiency. Supervisors can access real-time management data such as the number of forklifts in operation, driver behavior and fleet efficiency. Vehicle safety checks are recorded online, replacing the traditional, paper-based system and making reports available immediately.

Forklift drivers are required to follow driving rules such as checking the rearview mirror while reversing, being attentive to surrounding objects and equipment, and carefully observing the surrounding area before maneuvers such as U-turns. Collected data enables supervisors to identify drivers who need help to improve safety performance.

The Pudong scheme was a success. Following implementation, forklift incidents were cut by 21%. Forklift-related injuries stopped altogether. Savings on maintenance and vehicle repair are estimated at €50,000 a year. Looking to extend these benefits, BASF will roll out the forklift team management system in Australia, China, India, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand by the end of 2019.

“At BASF, we value health and safety of people above all else. The new forklift team management system underscores the power of data to promote safety, efficiency and savings -- a triple win, said Cong Jun Xue, Vice President of Environmental Protection, Health & Safety, BASF Asia Pacific. “We will continue to invest in data-enhanced systems to deliver on our promise to create chemistry for a sustainable future."