Forklift / fork truck free initiatives are everywhere. Either you’ve done it, you’re doing it, or you will be doing it soon.
There are too many reasons not to, which I outlined in the “Why?” aspect of forklift free in our series.
While all of those points are relevant, they are just the initial justification. The real reason, the real purpose of removing forklifts and fork truck traffic from your facility, is the ability to create flow. Creating flow and reducing waste are two sides of the same coin – your “efforts” should effect both at the same time. If you have fork lifts, you can’t flow, and if you can’t flow, you can’t improve.
Think about an hour glass sand timer. The sand starts at the bottom and nothing happens until you flip the timer over. Once you flip it, the sand starts to flow from the top part of the hour glass to the bottom. The neck of the glass is restricted so only a certain number of grains can flow by at any given time, and when they flow down they cascade into the bottom part of the glass in a neat pile. Now imagine that same timer, but instead of uniform grains of sand, you have pebbles dispersed in the sand. How will it flow then? What will it look like? Will you be able to measure time by looking at the sand in each side of the glass?
Your forklifts, pallets, and bulk containers are the pebbles blocking the rest of your flow. Take them out! You’ll start to see the power of flow, and set the stage for your next improvements.