Wireless Charging: A Catalyst for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Material Handling
Lorene Smith, President of READYTOWORK®, and trainee Krhystle Crayton. Photo by Erin Schreyer.
In the historically male-dominated material handling industry, efforts are underway to increase diversity in supply chain and warehouse roles. This stems not only from the desire to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in warehousing, but also to mitigate labor challenges that have created historic workforce shortages and uncertainty for warehouse operators who need predictability.
As with many things, some solutions to improve warehouse diversity are more obvious than others. Wireless charging, in particular, is emerging as a transformative solution that addresses challenges associated with traditional charging methods. Traditional charging of electric forklifts and other material handling equipment involves manual work that limits who’s eligible for operator jobs and can also create unsafe work environments. This blog explores how wireless charging enhances Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in the workplace by overcoming often overlooked issues related to plug-in charging, complicated charging procedures, and material handling equipment design.
Traditional Plug-In Charging: A Barrier for Accessibility and Efficiency
The use of traditional plug-in charging systems can pose significant challenges for people with different body types and abilities, such as individuals with smaller hands. The unwieldy plugs and the force required to connect them to battery connections can be a barrier, affecting the accessibility and efficiency of charging processes. Beyond the time it takes to manually plug and unplug cables, and the human error involved with relying on people to know how to plug cables in, make sure charging has started, and be safe, traditional plug-in charging creates an unintentional barrier to entry for many people who want to work in material handling. Wireless charging removes this obstacle.
Complicated Charging Procedures and Language Barriers
Conventional charging methods often involve complex procedures, such as battery swapping, which can include a dozen or more steps. For employees, particularly those for whom English is not their native language, navigating these intricate processes can be daunting. The potential for miscommunication or misunderstanding increases, leading to inefficiencies and potential safety risks. Wireless charging simplifies this process by removing human intervention and automating charging, so work is more intuitive and accessible to a diverse workforce.
Equipment Design Challenges for Diversity
Material handling equipment is traditionally designed for larger individuals who are not disabled. This design bias can create difficulties for individuals who don't fit the stereotypical mold, even if they meet all job requirements. For example, forklift operators may find it challenging to operate equipment not optimized for diverse physical abilities. Wireless charging eliminates the need for physical connectors, contributing to a more inclusive workplace by removing physical barriers associated with traditional charging methods. It’s true that other work requirements may come with physical demands; however, as warehouses become increasingly automated and work shifts from “operator” type jobs to “tasker” jobs overseeing vehicles and equipment, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging should increase. And automated wireless charging is a key technology enabling this transition.
Wireless charging is a game-changer in the material handling industry for many reasons. It makes employees and warehouse operations more productive, reduces total cost of ownership for fleets by up to 50%, and boosts warehouse capacity by freeing up valuable space. Even better, wireless charging fosters a more inclusive and equitable workplace by removing employee barriers. By addressing the challenges posed by traditional plug-in charging, such as difficult-to-use plugs, complex battery swapping procedures, and equipment design biases, wireless charging contributes to a workplace environment where all individuals can thrive. As companies continue to embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as integral aspects of their culture, and key initiatives to improve employee recruiting and retention, adopting wireless charging is an easy way to create a more accessible and welcoming workplace for their employees. To learn more about wireless charging, contact us.