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Lift Truck Issue: Operators are the heart and soul

If there’s one piece of equipment that deserves the majority of our attention for a given month it would have to be the lift truck—what we traditionally call the backbone, the workhorse, the most fundamental piece of equipment to be found in any materials handling operation. By Michael Levans




If there’s one piece of equipment that deserves the majority of our attention for a given month it would have to be the lift truck—what we traditionally call the backbone, the workhorse, the most fundamental piece of equipment to be found in any materials handling operation.

In fact, this marks the 7th installment of Modern’s special “Lift Truck Issue,” a month in which we devote most of our pages to giving warehouse and distribution center professionals a comprehensive snapshot of the current lift truck market, track where the market stands in the technological continuum, illustrate the evolution of truck usage, and see how suppliers are keeping pace with the needs of evolving, data-hungry operations.

While we usually kick things off with a case study on a unique application of a lift truck fleet, this year we decided to pull back a bit and offer a 30,000-foot view of how manufacturers and fleet managers are putting time, brainpower and a whole lot of effort into the innovations that are keeping operators comfortable and efficient throughout an eight-hour shift.

“And that’s where the leading-edge innovation should be going, because when you boil it all down, operators will always be the heart and soul of the fleet,” says senior editor Josh Bond, whose thought-provoking piece “Operators: Drivers of change” kicks off our lift truck coverage.

During our conversation after he wrapped up his reporting, Bond referenced the results of a recent Boston Consulting Group survey designed to capture the top factors for employee happiness. Based on more than 200,000 responses, the firm reported that “salary” barely made it into the top 10—a result that actually validates emerging themes we’re seeing across our own readership surveys (Modern & Logistics Management), and one that certainly supports the industry’s enhanced focus on the operator.

“Instead, employees cited things like appreciation for their work, opportunities for career development and job security,” says Bond. “When rolled up in aggregate, its easy to see that this industry-wide focus on improved lift truck design and performance helps improve all three of those vital satisfaction areas.”

As Bond reports, operators now have the keys to much more than just a lift truck, as this operator-centric approach to lift truck innovation—from the design phase to application customization—has opened tremendous opportunity to develop skill sets and improve overall workforce satisfaction.

“Operators are now in a position to contribute to the development of the equipment, the makeup of the fleet and their own futures in unprecedented ways,” adds Bond. “I guess you can say that they’re truly in the driver’s seat of innovation.”




About the author
Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]
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