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Travis Perkins fits e-forklifts with unique safety alert

10 June 2024

THE DISTRIBUTOR of building materials is fitting its latest batch of electric forklift trucks with a unique, industry-first ‘best in test’ sound alert, SIVAS, to improve safety for colleagues and customers in branch.

A total of 1,200 forklifts across the Group are now electric, and so far around 600 of these have been fitted with a unique sound alert named SIVAS to address concerns about the electric forklifts’ operational quietness compared to their diesel engine counter parts, and the potential safety risk this could pose. This mirrors how warning sounds have been fitted into electric vehicles to warn off pedestrians and other road users.

The SIVAS sound alert was developed as part of a sound study commissioned by Travis Perkins’s technical fleet director, Karl Wilshaw, on behalf of the Group that was conducted by the University of Salford Manchester’s specialist acoustics testing team. The SIVAS sound alert came out top when tested by the Group’s forklift drivers based on its detectable and unique sound.

“We developed three sounds based on our existing psychoacoustic expertise and tested them in highly realistic virtual environments with the Group’s forklift truck drivers. The SIVAS sound was selected from the shortlist of three based on its high level of detectability and positive reception by forklift operators,” explains Dr Antonio Torija Martinez, a reader in acoustical engineering at the University of Salford in Manchester.

“This sound study has solved a problem that applies to so many in our industry, and so we plan to share this with the industry to promote best practice,” added HSE & fleet ddirector at Travis Perkins, Richard Byrne.

“Besides saving direct emissions, switching from diesel to electric forklifts also makes for a quieter work environment for colleagues and customers who visit our branches. Operationally, they are more reliable and incur less downtime, which means they also enable us to serve our customers more efficiently,” he continued.

Electric forklift trucks can now be found in the Group’s Travis Perkins, CCF, BSS, Keyline and Staircraft businesses. The switching out of the Group’s diesel forklift trucks with electrics is one of the largest change programmes of its kind in the UK and forms part of the Group’s decarbonisation roadmap to meet its 1.5°-aligned, Science Based Targets initiative (‘SBTi’) accredited carbon reduction targets. This project is expected to further reduce scope 1 carbon emissions by up to 6,600 tonnes per annum to the benefit of the communities the Group operates in.