Time to give it a try
The wholesaler supplies out-of-home stores for various customers, including gas stations and other ‘to-go’ shops. In total, the company serves around 9,500 sales points throughout the Netherlands. Drivers push and pull rolcontainers to the sales locations, sometimes dealing with a total weight of up to 400 kg. Years ago, research was conducted to see if this led to back and shoulder problems. Lekkerland found enough evidence to act.
So along came some electric tugs – say a shortened version of an electric hand pallet truck – to move roll containers with electric support. Good idea, only the drivers saw little benefit in it and were also a bit embarrassed to start using it.
Van der Zalm: “They found it awkward, they said to carry such a thing, and they also found it unnecessary. Until some drivers started having physical problems. Then they started carefully trying the tugs. Soon enthusiasm grew and this spread to their colleagues. In the beginning, we had five tractors, which were often left unused, now here are thirty and almost all of them gone every day.”
Considerably less back and shoulder problems
In total, Lekkerland has now purchased around 100 tugs and as far as Van der Zalm is concerned, there is still no end in sight. “I really notice that there are a lot less complaints coming in about problems with back and shoulders,” he says.
Director of operations John van den Berg has also noticed the increased interest among his people. “Our employees can no longer do without the tugs and encourage new employees to use them too. They warn them to be careful with their bodies. How great is that. I am convinced that using smart electric tugs contributes to less sick leave. We relieve employees physically and see it as a long-term investment.”
Linking with large carabiners
“Where there used to be a taboo on the use of electric tugs, today it is something people are proud of,” says Bert Quik, facilities manager at Lekkerland. Together with Movexx, nice product developments have already been realised at the behest of the drivers themselves, including a clamping (electric) hook and the possibility of linking roll containers by means of a rather large carabiner.
“Before, they used to do that with rubber bands,” Van der Zalm explains. “That was much less reliable. This works well. I can’t really think of any drawbacks in use, except that the tractor takes up the space of a roll cage. That may be unfortunate, but it prevents a lot of complaints now that the drivers can do their work with much less effort.”