When it comes to operating a warehouse, health and safety take top priority, no matter how fast you wish to operate. Warehousing automation can make your loading operations not just speedier, but also safer.

In fact, warehouse automation has several major parts to play in increasing the safety of your warehouse. It makes loading safe without sacrificing speed, eases workloads on logistics teams, reduces ergonomic risks, decreases the interaction between workers and forklift trucks, and, in the process of doing all this, boosts productivity. Below is a look in further depth at the four main roles of loading automation when it comes to operating a warehouse safely.

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role of automation in maintaining warehouse safety

Loading automation requires a sizable investment, but this is much more preferable to the fate that can befall a business if it breaches health and safety regulations. Serious breaches can incur stiff penalties, imprisonment and disqualification of directors. Depending on the nature of a health and safety breach, the business may also have to shut down. Here are the different roles of an automation system in warehousing:

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Safe but swift loading

Employees responsible for loading and unloading goods often have to deal with heavy items of cargo. Instead of pallets, they may even be loading or unloading machinery or bulky items such as barrels. They’re doing this in an industry in which the pace of operation is so fast that businesses are anxious to get their goods out onto the road as soon as possible.

Automated loading systems like the ones we sell at Joloda Hydraroll can help logistics workers to load and unload trailers much faster in the knowledge the operation will be safe. They simply have to load the cargo onto the machine, which they can do by using a forklift truck or, in most cases, by connecting the solution to a conveyor, and the machine will transfer the cargo into the trailer.

Easing workloads and helping businesses to cope with labour shortages

Labour shortages exist in the logistics industry. Employees of the baby boomer generation are reaching retirement, and logistics operators are finding it hard to replace them. The demands of e-commerce, and seasonal trends and other factors, are all compounding the problem

As a result, warehouse employees in some cases are having to work extra hours or work night shifts to keep operations moving on time, and are having to work harder and faster. All of this will take its toll eventually. The work is especially taxing on warehouses that have a more manual way of operating, but automated loading systems can help businesses to cope better with some of the gaps in their workforce. These systems can deal with a big part of the heavy lifting and lighten the load on employees.

Logistics company employee preparing to safely load a flatbed trailer by inspecting the cargo they will transport on a truck

Reduction of repetitive strain injury and other ergonomic risks

In warehouse work, especially when it comes to manual handling, employees must perform some simple tasks repeatedly. The use of manual tools, and dealing with packaging and boxes, can lead to repetitive strain injury.

These injuries don’t just affect the employee during their work at the warehouse, however, and will affect their quality of life. When their working day is done, they’ll go home and will still feel the pain. They may need to see a physiotherapist to address the issue.

Automation can cut out the manual repetition when loading and unloading. Once the cargo is on the machine, the machine transfers the goods to the trailer or from it as required.

Lower interaction between workers and forklift trucks

According to information on the website of the Health and Safety Executive, approximately a quarter of accidents in workplaces involve lift trucks.

Unstable loads can come off forklift trucks or cause the forklift to topple over. Forklifts can fall into gaps between the trailer and the loading dock. Debris and other obstacles can cause forklift accidents. Drivers may not be able to spot other workers when operating the vehicle. In short, forklifts can cause a lot of nasty accidents.

One of the big benefits of loading automation solutions such as ours is they lessen the interaction between employees and forklift trucks. Workers don’t have to work with them as much, if at all. Our solutions, for instance, don’t require the forklift truck to enter the trailer with the load. The operator can either load the cargo onto the system and leave the system to take care of the loading, or they can connect the system to a conveyor and, again, let the system load the trailer. This minimises the risk of forklift accidents, and as employees don’t have to enter the trailer, they’re also at less risk of cargo falling on top of them.

invest in safety to increase productivity

In an economic climate in which many businesses are tightening their budgets, you might feel reluctant to invest in an automated loading system; however, automation increases productivity, creating the opportunity for returns on your investment, and you’ll find the money you spend is money well spent.

Automation can help your workers to operate better more in extreme environments, such as in the cold packing industry. It’s likely to protect them, in fact, and as well as keeping them healthy by protecting them in extreme environments, loading automation can do the same by sparing them from performing physically demanding, repetitive tasks and also by reducing exposure to the use of equipment such as forklift trucks and the hazards that come with using them.

Making loading safer through the implementation of automated systems generates productivity in several different ways. Firstly, the reduction of accidents and the general protection of the workers allows them to operate in better health. They’re less likely to phone in sick. According to data on the HSE website, approximately 30.8 million days were lost due to work-related ill health, and 6 million lost as a result of non-fatal work-related injuries, in 2021/22.

Secondly, the use of loading frees employees up from time-consuming tasks so they can devote them to tasks that could have much more impact for the business. The loading automation we sell, for instance, often only requires one person to conduct the loading.

Thirdly and finally, perhaps the biggest productivity benefit of increasing safety through the use of warehousing automation in your loading processes is that you can get your goods out onto the road and onto the next stage of their journey sooner. Our automated loading solutions reduce driver waiting times by around 85% because the drivers don’t have to wait for as long for the logistics team to load the trailer. Some of our solutions can load a large number of pallets in as little as four minutes, allowing the driver to get back out on the road sooner.

an automated warehouse is a safe warehouse

Loading automation plays a monumental part in keeping your warehouse safe. Operators should do everything within their power to protect their workers because failure to comply with HSE regulations can have serious consequences.

Ensuring employees are safe must always be the top priority when operating a warehouse. Logistics is a fast-paced industry, and employees who are facing tight deadlines but struggling to meet them may start to cut corners or make mistakes, putting themselves at risk. Even if they do follow all the health and safety procedures, gaps in labour, which automated loading solutions can help to fill, can overwhelm them and lead to accidents.

Implementing automated loading solutions in your warehousing operations may call for a significant investment, but it can ramp up productivity. If you’d like to find out more about our loading technology and how it can bolster productivity in your warehouse, let's chat. Our team will be happy to advise you on the best system for your business, and we’ll also install it if you decide to invest.

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