PLANT

Sensor mirror alerts forklift drivers


The convex Mirror Alert Sytem displays a caution message to warn workers a forklift is approaching.

Photo: Albert Safety Products

Material handling safety is an ongoing issue for many manufacturers, with forklifts and other lifting devices continuing to be a significant cause of worker injury.

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has recorded 10,308 forklift-related incidents that resulted in lost-time injury in the province between 1996 and 2008.

Forklift drivers often rely on signage and floor lane markings to navigate through a facility. But many facilities are not designed with forklifts in mind. Operators have to manoeuvre loads down narrow aisles, around blind corners and through busy intersections, while watching for pedestrians, opening doors and other forklifts. And sometimes the traditional passive safety mirror isn’t enough to avoid dangerous and costly collisions.

Alert Safety Products, a Cincinnati, Ohio company that specializes in forklift warning and safety products, has responded to this dilemma with the Mirror Alert System, which integrates motion detection technology with passive mirrors.

“We developed the Mirror Alert System in response to feedback from several customers,” says David Fossier, the company’s co-owner and head of engineering.

The system uses microwave sensors that are configured to detect forklifts, scooters, Cushmans and golf carts as they approach a critical intersection. When the motion is detected, an alert message with an arrow, which points in the vehicle’s direction of travel, warns pedestrians and other forklift operators. The sensors ping a signal off the forklift to trigger the alert, which lights up an LED arrow, message, audio alarm or a combination of all three.

“For example, if a forklift operator is approaching a four-way intersection at six o’clock, we can light three o’clock and nine o’clock with [the word] ‘caution’ and an arrow in red LEDs that can be seen from over 50 feet away,” says Fossier.

Reduce near misses
This technology is available in both convex and dome mirrors. The convex mirror, ideal for three-way intersections, has a 26-inch radius and is visible from 100 feet away. The dome, available in 26-inch and 36-inch sizes, senses a full 360 degrees with a microwave sensor range of 25 to 65 feet.