Training A New Generation of Forklift Operators
“4 minutes. 7 minutes, if I’m really energized myself.” That’s the maximum amount of time a forklift trainer said they have to capture the attention of a class. Some trainees find the theory and lecture method so boring that they fall asleep.
Warehouses have become less the dark abandoned spaces portrayed in pop culture and more like a high-tech, well-lit spaceship. Unfortunately, the training methods haven’t kept up with the changes. Forklift training and certification still often starts with an hour or more of theoretical training. Some of this theoretical training is no more involved than showing the class an old VHS tape. In-warehouse training is even less involved. Drivers pick up pallets and drive figure eights while their colleagues watch a distance, awaiting their turn.
It’s not hard to see why this type of training doesn’t resonate with younger generations. Look at how your own children learn about their world. My daughter likes to go to a museum, but only if she can do something hands-on. Going to a museum where she only looks at exhibits doesn’t hold her interest at all. When my son passes the ball in soccer, he wants to know if it was a level 1, 2 or 3 pass. Instead of giving the players nebulous words like “good, better, best”, this brings game-playing ideas to improving in a sport.
Gamification encourages people to do well. This creates friendly competition as everyone wants to level up. The use of a forklift simulator lets students practice forklift driving safely while engaging everyone in training and bringing safety and theory practices to life. In the simulator, you can handle the ramifications of uneven loads, blind spots, and oil spills without putting inventory at risk or drivers in danger. The simulator confirms that the employee really understands forklift training and can correctly apply safety protocols into practice over and over again.
In practical skills training, VR helps sharpen students’ operational skills because it makes learning more fun, more secure, and more active, according to a 2016 study conducted at Bejing University. One of the best ways to confirm that you’ve learned something is to teach what you’ve learned. Having students work in small groups of 3-4 people facilitates the learning/teaching environment. This creates a network of support and critique and encourages everyone to do their best. Because bystanders can observe the operator’s performance in the simulator on a screen, they can learn from the mistakes of their colleagues.
In our experience, we’ve discovered that the best forklift training involves a combination of theory and simulator training in a dedicated classroom. Creating a supportive and interactive learning environment before going out to the warehouse to do hands-on training will generate the best results for you and your team.