ELOshield enhances operational health and safety for pigment manufacturer
Safer forklift movements at Clariant
Safety is high on the agenda for the Pigments Division of Clariant (Colorants Solutions Deutschland GmbH) at its site in Frankfurt’s industrial park in Höchst, where it manufactures insoluble colorants. These are then mixed and ground for ongoing processing at the neighbouring HPPM Plant (High Performance Pigments Mill). This entails the movement of large volumes of material from one site to another and consequently results in a high level of forklift traffic. Clariant has been using ELOKON’s automated proximity detection system ELOshield since the summer of 2020 to ensure the safe passage of forklifts in and around the premises and the optimum protection of its personnel.
The project at a glance
long very narrow aisle running alongside the production line
ELOshield units with testing and charging stations
Avoiding collisions in areas of low visibility
Five forklifts are deployed to transport the primary products and ground pigments around the site and the routes they use are extensive and can be tricky to navigate. Three areas in the building were of particular concern: an S-bend in the goods-in section, a passageway to the external warehouse and a 60m long very narrow aisle running alongside the production line. Plant manager Dr. Thomas Lindner: “There is always a certain amount of risk when using industrial trucks, but so far we have not had any accidents involving injury to personnel, but we have experienced the occasional damage to property and infrastructure. “
In 2019 the HPPM team therefore decided to make safety an utmost priority by taking measures to optimise the flow of forklift traffic. "Our aim was to reduce general damage on site whilst further enhancing the occupational safety of our employees by implementing an automated assistance system," said Dr. Lindner. Whilst researching possible solutions, the team came across ELOKON.
Warning signal alerts people and forklifts to hazardous situations
Initial discussions took place in May 2019 and a follow-up site inspection was carried out in November that year to determine some changes in requirements. After a few months of detailed planning by ELOKON, final specifications were approved by Clariant in the spring of 2020 and the set up was ready for installation. The ELOshield driver assistance system has been successfully up and running since August 2020.
ELOshield is a radio warning system for personal protection (ELOshieldGO) and collision avoidance (ELOshieldDRIVE) in intralogistics. The ultra-wideband (UWB) technology automatically detects when persons or other vehicles encroach into the danger zone of a forklift truck and warns the drivers by means of visual and acoustic signals. In addition, the vehicle’s speed is reduced to three kilometres per hour until the hazardous situation has been resolved.
Enhanced safey at work and a "filter" for the laundry basket
Floor workers are also equipped with a personal module that they wear, which alerts them to the presence of a truck nearby with acoustic and vibration alarms, and thanks to the UWB transmission technology there are no blind spots. ELOKON supplied 20 of these battery-operated devices, with testing and charging stations.
A very specific requirement at Clariant that ELOKON was happy to address was a monitoring module in the stairwell that detects any personal modules that have accidently landed up in the laundry basket, preventing them from being destroyed in the wash.
Automatic speed reduction with ELOshieldZONE
The major issue for this project however was the challenge of constantly monitoring the three riskiest areas where visibility is very poor. "In our experience this is where collisions have repeatedly happened, resulting in damage to the trucks and/or the building," said Dr. Lindner. The implementation of a permanent and automatically activated speed limit is designed to prevent these occurrences in future.
ELOKON’s solution was to install a number of radio antennas along the S-bend in the goods-in section, in the inner and outer area of the doorway towards the external warehouse and alongside the production line. When a vehicle enters the monitored area, its speed is automatically reduced to seven kilometres per hour. If ELOshieldZONE also detects a person or another forklift truck in the vicinity, the system warns both parties and reduces the speed to just three kilometres per hour.
No noticeable drop in production levels
"Our employees were sceptical at first, but quickly accepted this virtual 'protective shield'," says Dr. Lindner. This was mainly because the reduced speed limit did not cause any noticeable drop in productivity. Dr. Lindner also stresses the overriding advantages of the system.
"Since ELOshield has been operational there have been no instances of damage in the areas it monitors. This is not only a major plus for the safety of our employees, but also reduces costs in the long run."
Clariant's Pigments Division is a leading global supplier of premium organic pigments, pigment preparations and dyes for applications such as automotive, industrial coatings, plastics and for the colouring of household, textile and personal care products. As a global leader, Clariant makes an important contribution to adding value for customers in a wide range of industries with innovative and sustainable solutions, focused on current trends and the responsible use of limited resources.
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