A course in heavy machinery
The building was closed, I had arrived way too early, so I decided to walk around before I would start my day on getting my heftruck and reachtruck certificate.
After walking a block or two I noticed the door was slightly open so I walked in. Our ‘ classroom’ was in a big, well, warehouse. Of course, what did I expect? A library and a chalk board?
The floor was concrete and racks were on the side walls, with stackable mesh stillages, empty and full basins as well as pallets. I saw an electric heftruck, reachtruck and what they call a stacker.
Hello? Anybody here? Good morning! – Clearly no one heard me coming in.
Aha…there is an upstairs.
I walked upstairs and introduced myself, the instructor said he remembered a ‘Carmen’ on the list – it was not every day that a lady joins his class. We chatted a bit before the rest of the class entered. A heftruck and reachtruck course must be taken to safely work and drive a forklift and must be renewed every 5 years. During the course you acquire theoretical knowledge and learn practical skills which will in the end teach you to control a forklift.
The classroom was filled with most participants taking the course for the first time, all in different industries (wood, plastics, chemicals etc.). Some participants were taking the course on request of their employer and others on their own request. One guy had clearly been in the industry for a while, having had experienced a few accidents here and there, compared to most of us, who clearly needed an eye opener on what the dangers could be. And boy did we get that eye opener.
A very visual video was shown during the course about a guy named Klaus who had received his heftruck and reachtruck certificate: Klaus die gabelstaplerfahrer (warning from me: not for the weak stomached!) Time: 08:48min
What is a forklift truck?
We can categorize forklifts into two groups: Counterbalance and Warehouse trucks. A counterbalance truck can be used both in and outside and warehouse trucks are designed to be used in warehouses. A counterbalance forklift truck uses a counterweight at the back of the truck as an offset for the load at the front (actually, the whole chasses and the battery or engine of the truck are part of the counterweight). A reachtruck would fall under the category warehouse trucks because these are usually used to transport loads to high heights.
Major truck components:
The theoretical part of the course was clear to me, having experienced my first week at MCFE, I had the basics explained to me by various colleagues. The theory given by the instructor was the icing on the cake I needed to pass the morning exam.
The practical part was where I started to worry – steering and controlling a heftruck was not as easy as it seemed.
The instructor told me to imagine I was transporting porcelain with the heftruck and reachtruck and all would go well.
All did go well, although it took me quite a while and a lot of concentration to transport pallets and 3 mesh stillages from inside the warehouse to outside and then have the instructor ask me to transport them all back inside, high on a rack. The truck was definitely heavy machinery which needed to be driven with utmost control while making sure no people were walking around you while you transported porcelain on a truck, on an uneven floor.
I passed my practical exam in one go, making the guys exclaim that that was because I was a woman and therefore did everything very carefully 😉 The gentlemen around me were definitely quicker at the job, but I was very thankful for all the tips and tricks I received from them before I had my turn.
My first steps as a Technical Trainer at MCFE have been taken 🙂