What’s that protecting man and machine?


The beeper and the keeper. Small aids that make a big difference to workplace safety.

Workplace safety is a major concern for the packaging manufacturer Smurfit Kappa. This is because pedestrians and trucks can easily get in each other’s way. Anyone on the move there automatically becomes part of a safety system from Comnovo that warns of potential collisions.

Fewer hazards and a feeling of safety Volker Wollschläger does not compromise when it comes to health and safety. That is why the logistics manager relies on assistance systems to protect employees and trucks from accidents at the packaging factory.

Workplace safety is a key concern for us and Comnovo has helped us to significantly improve it.

Volker Wollschläger
Logistics manager at Smurfit Kappa

Volker Wollschläger’s helper may be as small as a matchbox but it has become an essential aid for his day-to-day work. For Smurfit Kappa in Hoya, northern Germany, a manufacturer of container board and folding boxboard, this ‘beeper’ forms part of an assistance system that has significantly improved safety at the company’s Hoya factory. The beeper is attached to clothing using a clip. Its counterpart, the box-shaped ‘keeper’, is fitted to the forklift truck. The devices use radio signals to determine the distance between man and truck and emit a warning signal when they get too close, thereby reducing the risk of collision. “Workplace safety is a key concern for us and Comnovo has helped us to significantly improve it,” says Volker Wollschläger, who as Head of Logistics introduced the start-up’s systems at Smurfit Kappa’s Hoya factory.

The beeper is a constant companion in the plant and sounds an alarm if there is imminent danger. On/off Connect mode

Comnovo's assistance systems tell the user if there is a vehicle approaching. Their use has become routine for the employees.

A danger identified is a danger avoided

The volume of paper and folding boxboard that Smurfit Kappa produces annually has increased to 450,000 tons. “Demand is rising, as online retailers in particular need more and more packaging,” says Wollschläger. “This means there are large numbers of heavy goods vehicles and forklift trucks driving back and forth across our site. And there is a correspondingly high safety hazard as pedestrians cross the path of trucks.”

Impossible to miss – blinking signals warn of trucks crossing.

Wollschläger does a lot to improve safety at the site. Weekly safety meetings in the logistics department and regular seminars on how to load trucks safely are just some of the measures he has introduced. “We have long considered how we could further improve safety at a practical level and made the decision to go with Comnovo’s products after a four-month trial in summer 2017.” The start-up Comnovo is part of Linde MH EMEA and supports the Operating Unit’s safety and sustainability strategy.

On the safe side – the assistance system can increase safety at the plant, especially in areas that are difficult to see.
The keeper blinks if a forklift truck comes within three meters.

Control avoids collisions

Visibility is particularly poor along the footpath in front of the warehouse where the giant rolls of paper are loaded onto the trucks. “We set up a visual and acoustic warning system here; warning signs alone were not enough for us,” says Wollschläger. A warning beacon draws attention to potential danger, and Smurfit Kappa equips the truck drivers and its own employees with the beepers. If these come within three meters of one of the 15 forklift trucks, they begin to vibrate and beep loudly. The keeper, meanwhile, warns the forklift driver that there are people nearby.

Slow down!

Safety takes precedence, even in a hurry. That is why radio signals reduce the speed of trucks automatically in dangerous areas.

In the warehouse where all the pallets are kept, Smurfit Kappa employs Comnovo’s speed reduction function in front of the loading bay through which the forklift drivers load the trucks. Here, a radio signal received by the forklifts slows them down from 12 km/h to 6 km/h. “This softens the impact of jolts at the edge of the loading bay, prevents back injuries of the drivers and reduces wear on the forklifts,” says Wollschläger. “Since installing the system, we significantly increased the safety in loading – and have a feeling of greater safety.”

The speed reduction function softens the impact of jolts at the edge of the loading bay and reduces wear on the vehicles.

Volker Wollschläger also had a good feeling from the moment he started working with the Comnovo team. “They gave us great advice and customized their systems to our needs,” he reports with satisfaction. “We worked very closely together right from the beginning and learned from each other. And our experience has shown that we took the right steps. I would do the same again.”

Andreas Lewandowski
Founder and Managing Director of Comnovo.
People and machines work side by side in the large factory halls. Good job that their safety is taken care of.