Lift truck vendor Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc. has launched a series of wearable, electronic tags that encourage social distancing practices as workers around the country return to work under strict conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Employees can wear the electronic tags on a lanyard, similar to building or equipment access cards, and are notified by a tactile buzz when other people get within six feet of them. The system offers a minimally intrusive solution that only makes its presence known when providing a proximity alert, according to Yale Materials Handling Corp. and Hyster Co., sibling companies that are both located in Greenville, North Carolina.

The solution uses ultra-wideband technology for tag-to-tag sensing and communication, avoiding the need for additional infrastructure such as Wi-Fi or cellular network coverage. And to prevent employees from selectively turning off the system to avoid social distancing enforcement, the devices require a unique, custom sequence to power down.

“The tag-to-tag solution offers a consistent method that takes the burden of requesting safe physical distance in work settings off of the individual,” Kevin Paramore, Yale’s emerging technology commercialization manager, said in a release. “This approach can help businesses build confidence among employees as they return to work, using a simple yet effective technology framework available at a competitive value.”

And in other examples of the logistics industry dedicating its assets to the coronavirus fight:

  • Supply chain consulting firm Tompkins International has launched a mobile smartphone app designed to help businesses ensure facility safety and compliance during the continuing Covid-19 outbreak. The SentryCheck solution allows businesses to operate safely and effectively amid the pandemic by prompting users to perform time-sensitive tasks, record critical inputs, automatically send corrective action alerts, and more, according to the Raleigh, North Carolina-based firm. “With warehouses operating around the clock to meet customer demands during the pandemic, it is more important than ever for businesses to verify that all processes and procedures are being followed to keep their facilities safe,” Denny McKnight, CEO of Tompkins International, said in a release.
  • Online truck brokerage Convoy is donating freight hauling services to bedding provider Tempur Sealy International to help deliver the retailer’s donation of relief mattresses and masks to healthcare, government, and charitable organizations involved in the fight against Covid-19. Tempur Sealy had donated $160,000 to charities serving affected communities as well as donating the mattresses. And Seattle-based Convoy will now arrange to hauling the mattress donations from Indiana to California’s Bay Area Furniture Bank. The partnership was created when Convoy reached out to DHL (of which Tempur Sealy is a customer) to offer its help, and DHL identified the need. Convoy is continuing to offer free trucking services for any business that is donating a truckload of products. “It has been particularly challenging for companies around the globe to effectively manage their supply chains during Covid-19,” Katie Reese,  DHL Supply Chain’s transportation manager, carrier development, transportation solutions, said in a release. “At DHL, we are thrilled we could assist Tempur Sealy in helping them to locate a way to transport their very generous donation to the people who need it most with the assistance of Convoy.”
  • Logistics and warehousing provider Dachser Brazil has teamed with thyssenkrupp Elevadores to arrange the transport of 250,000 disposable masks which were later distributed to all of the elevator manufacturer’s employees in Latin America, providing protection measures against Covid-19. The two companies are both based in Germany, and were already partners for logistics operations in global business. The cargo handling took place between Shanghai Pudong, Frankfurt, and Guarulhos international airports. After the shipment arrived in Brazil, it was transported by road from São Paulo to the Salgado Filho International Airport, in Porto Alegre. “We are here for our customers during these challenging times. A prompt response and always meeting their demands are some of the reasons we have long-time partnerships with our clients in Brazil and worldwide,” João Paulo Caldana, managing director of Dachser Brazil, said in a release. “It was a cargo of considerable size and great importance, which needed to reach its destination as quickly as possible. For this reason, we opted for a transport route via Asia-Europe-South America, which are also areas of operation for thyssenkrupp Elevadores.”
  • Transportation service provider Penske Truck Leasing has introduced a remote service check-in feature through its smartphone mobile app, allowing commercial truck drivers to maximize social distancing by remotely checking-in their vehicles for scheduled preventive maintenance or repairs during the pandemic. In other new services, the Reading, Pennsylvania-based company is positioning associates outside many locations to greet and direct customers to designated parking or pick-up areas, and has made additional changes to its rental reservation, pick up, and drop off procedures. “This new addition to the Penske Driver app is part of our ongoing efforts to help keep customers and their drivers connected, safe and informed,” Sherry Sanger, executive vice president of marketing, Penske Transportation Solutions, said in a release. “Drivers will appreciate both the speed and convenience as well as the additional social distancing this new remote check-in feature affords.”

To see further coverage of the coronavirus crisis and how it’s affecting the logistics industry, check out our Covid-19 landing page. And click here for our compilation of virus-focused websites and resource pages from around the supply chain sector.


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