It's not every day that forklift operators get a moment in the spotlight. But drivers from a few select aircargo operations received some strokes at the International Forklift and Pallet Building Competition in Hong Kong earlier this year.
The competition took place in January at the 4.2 million-square-foot main cargo-handling facility of Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd. (Hactl). Contestants were judged on their ability to maneuver loaded forklift trucks through a simulated warehouse course, delivering cargo to team members who then had to load as many items as possible, all while meeting safety standards for dangerous goods, heavy cargo, and build integrity set by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). All tasks were performed against the clock.
The field of contestants included teams from Air Canada Cargo, Air France Cargo, IAG Cargo, Air China Cargo, Cargolux, Japan Airlines, KLM, Nippon Cargo Airlines, and Qatar Airways. When the dust had settled, the squad from Air Canada Cargo walked away with first prize in the forklift competition, while Air China Cargo claimed the pallet-building prize.
Now in its 12th year, the contest is a key element of Hactl's ongoing Safety at Work program. "Mixing machinery and people in a time-constrained environment like aircargo handling always introduces risk," Hactl Chief Executive Wilson Kwong said in a release. "Hactl's annual competition puts a light-hearted, friendly, and competitive face on a serious message: that safety in the aircargo workplace is paramount. Honing forklift driving skills is a key aspect of this and was clearly evidenced by the excellent performance of the competitors this year."