When it comes to health and wellness, there is no shortage of data and literature for beverage-makers to consider when formulating new products. However, wellness is not reserved only for packaged products in the beverage market. Ensuring wellness for warehouse and distribution personnel also is front-of-mind for many, and equipment suppliers are making sure they address that need.

“We continue to see desire for safe, ergonomic hand trucks,” says Andrea Horner, vice president of marketing for Magline Inc., Standish, Mich. “One of the biggest considerations [that] remains [is] weight. Most injuries don’t happen from one-time occurrences; they happen from repetitive movements over time, like lifting a hand truck on and off of a truck multiple times per day. Empirical evidence tells us that once a driver sustains a job-related back injury, the chance of reoccurrence within a two-year time period is 50 percent.”

Horner adds that a delivery system cannot only affect safety but also productivity and costs. “A hand truck is an extension of the driver, and when it isn’t working — the driver isn’t working,” she notes.

An ongoing commitment to design improvements is how equipment suppliers want to ensure they are helping distributors address the safety concerns of delivery personnel. “Customers want to know when their drivers leave for the day, they will be able to perform their jobs safely and efficiently,” Horner adds. “Relatively speaking, hand trucks aren’t a significant investment for distributors, but when a driver is on his route, it is just as critical to be in working order as the delivery vehicle.” 

Among the ways Magline is addressing this is through its latest hand truck release: Glyde. “The truck incorporates pre-braking tracks to reduce stress and strain on drivers going down stairs,” Horner says.

The lightweight system can transport as much as 350 pounds down stairs, features folding treads for use on stairs and level surfaces, and the built-in braking system reduces musculoskeletal strain, the company says.

Carts also are helping distributors address wellness concerns for delivery personnel. “Beverage drivers tell us changing from side-load to system delivery has increased their longevity on routes,” Horner adds. “We regularly hear stories from drivers who feel so much better at the end of the day and now have energy for family and recreational activities. Driver wellness is important to longevity but also affects their attitude today. They are the face of the distributor to the customer, so a driver who feels good reflects positively on the company.”

Shelley Bell, industry manager for Yale Materials Handling Corp., Cleveland, Ohio, notes that equipment suppliers are turning to various avenues to offer more ease for delivery personnel. “In beverage delivery applications, personnel must be able to maneuver in tight spaces and require dependable power to get the job done,” she says. “Hand/pallet trucks powered by a lithium-ion battery offer a solution for both of these concerns. Compared to traditional electric power sources such as lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries offer a smaller, lighter weight option — attributes that are better suited for maneuvering inside delivery trailers and retail or convenience store aisles and doorways.”

Understanding the physical strain that beverage delivery personnel encounter, Yale has worked to develop a portfolio of products that support these workers.

“Generally speaking, the Yale range of hand/pallet trucks are designed to make the operator’s job as easy and comfortable as possible to ensure that optimum productivity is achieved, whether loading or unloading a trailer, or moving loads around a warehouse or retail store location,” Bell explains. “Thanks to the ergonomic features and state-of-the-art technology, Yale hand/pallet trucks provide a reliable unit that permits virtually effortless operation while providing an efficiency enhancing solution.”

With the ability to operate with the handle in its full upright position, the Yale MPB045VG walkie pallet truck offers a UL-recognized lithium-ion battery pack in the lift truck.

“The shorter, more compact 6-inch battery compartment decreases the overall length of the truck and enhances the unit’s performance in congested areas and tight spaces,” Bell says. “The lightweight, yet extremely durable design of the MPB045VG powered by lithium-ion offers industry-leading productivity and maneuverability, while outlasting and outperforming manual pallet trucks that move on casters.”

Another aspect of beverage delivery that is evolving is the prevalence of delivery systems in comparison to side-load trailers.

“The acceptance of delivery systems in place of traditional side-load delivery is growing,” Magline’s Horner says. “Pre-sell, pre-pick systems can reduce account service time, which allows drivers to deliver more products per day. Implementing a system also can take 25 percent of trucks off the road, reducing the carbon footprint.”

She adds that since Magline added cart systems to its portfolio, distributors have noted an increase in productivity coupled with a reduction in costs.

“We offer two options — Bulk Delivery Carts and CooLift — allowing distributors to select the system that best suits their needs,” Horner says. “An added advantage of the CooLift is that it is compatible with automated warehouse pick systems, such as Vertique, which increases the savings even more.”