Narrow streets, winding facilities, a large truck: Symotion drivers are extremely focused on the road. Pictured here: Andreas Neitzel, Internal Transport.
PRODUCTS & CUSTOMERS
Keeping eyes open in factory traffic
Every day, trucks weighing several tons drive the streets of the Symrise production sites. To avoid accidents, everyone on the road needs to stay alert, not just the drivers.
Even if the streets are narrow and winding, without traffic lights or pedestrian crossings: the German road traffic rules apply on the Solling and Weser factory premises. “However, it seems that not everyone is aware of that,” says Reinhard Nowak, Managing Director of Symotion. He has noticed that some colleagues cross the street while looking at their phones or walking next to each other, and they aren’t aware of the traffic at all. “They aren’t just putting themselves in danger – they’re endangering the drivers as well,” Reinhard points out. Every day, there are situations in which 40-ton side loaders, low-lift platform trucks, swap body trucks, Unimogs with various attachments and forklifts are on the roads. The Symotion drivers are aware of the situation and drive their trucks at a maximum speed of 15 kilometers per hour on the narrow, low-visibility roads. But they aren’t the only ones out there. There are also trucks from a number of other companies out and about on the factory premises. “The external drivers assume, of course, that the standard traffic rules apply here, and they drive even faster,” explains Andreas Ostermann, Head of Internal Transport and Storage at Symotion. There are also containers and pallets that are needed for production stacked up on every corner, which impairs visibility. If, on top of that, pedestrians aren’t paying attention, things can get dangerous. The risk of accidents increases automatically because of the massive physical forces that are released when the driver of a 40-ton truck has to brake abruptly. Forty elephants need a few meters to come to a complete stop. “On the one hand, these situations are dangerous, and on the other, there is an enormous amount of wasted energy,” Andreas goes on. In the end, the truck has to get itself moving again.
A major challenge for the drivers is the height of the truck cabin and the blocked view of the ground. “Every deceleration puts stress on the driver and the material,” says Andreas. For this reason, there are also mandatory regular training sessions. The German Professional Driver Qualification Act requires a corresponding training course every five years. At the beginning of November, five Symotion colleagues proved their abilities once again. WATCHING OUT FOR EVERYONE “Guaranteeing safety on the premises is every employee’s job,” Reinhard reiterates. Not just that of the Symotion drivers. They also regularly take part in safety training courses, and the safety officers regularly meet with Ralf Galonska, an occupational safety specialist, to look for solutions together. One example is with the forklifts: They have been equipped with a blue light, which signals the direction in which the truck is driving. This serves as a warning for bystanders and passersby. Everyone is responsible for their own safety. But everyone must also ensure that no one else is endangered. “It has a little bit to do with appreciation,” says Reinhard. “That’s the only way we can prevent accidents at the factory.”