GEODIS, a leading global logistics provider, has partnered with Phantom Auto, experts in long-range remote operation software for unmanned vehicles, to develop a forklift truck that can be controlled from a distance. This innovative program is aimed at improving comfort and safety, and creating job opportunities for people with physical disabilities and others that are historically underrepresented in the logistics industry.
The first successful tests took place in France (Levallois and Le Mans) as part of a multi-year cooperation between GEODIS, Phantom Auto, and Fenwick-Linde to create the first remotely operated forklift, capable of being controlled from thousands of miles away. It is the precursor of a revolution in the nature of work in the logistics industry, expanding opportunity to people from historically underrepresented demographics (e.g. women, people with physical disabilities, geographically-isolated, and more).
This cooperation stems from a creative idea from a GEODIS manager and was developed in the framework of the GEODIS internal innovation program. The solution uses a Fenwick forklift combined with Phantom’s secure, network-agnostic, and interoperable remote operation software to enable remote workers to operate the vehicle, unlocking efficiency and equipment utilization gains. For example, one remote worker can operate multiple forklifts at a number of warehouses at different times of the day, all from one central location.
GEODIS remote operators, also referred to as digital drivers, will be able to “teleport” between different vehicles and between different warehouses with the click of a button, all from the safety of a distant office. Phantom’s software provides GEODIS’ remote operators with real-time eyes and ears all around each vehicle, enabling them to safely and confidently guide the vehicles from wherever is convenient.
GEODIS’ remotely operated forklift program contributes to: (1) reduce injuries and increase overall safety in warehouses, (2) reduce the number of people physically inside warehouses to enhance worker comfort, (3) create new future-proof remote operator jobs that can be carried out within a office environment, (4) hire individuals who may have physical disabilities restricting their use of traditional forklifts, as well as individuals from other historically underrepresented demographics, (5) recruit from regions outside of where warehouses are located, including areas of higher unemployment.
“Phantom Auto’s technology enables dynamic balancing of workforce allocation, safer warehouses, enhanced worker well-being, and employment opportunities to those who otherwise could not physically drive forklifts,” said Stéphanie Hervé, GEODIS’ Chief Operating Officer Western Europe, Middle East & Africa. “This innovation will be of benefit to the wider community and indicates the future of logistics operations. We believe that technology should serve people, and that is what this partnership with Phantom Auto illustrates”.
“Phantom is proud to have partnered with GEODIS in Europe in this groundbreaking initiative, which delivers multiple benefits in efficiency and the provision of a safer working environment,” said Shai Magzimof, Co-Founder of Phantom Auto.
Co-Founder Elliot Katz added: “Phantom’s remote operation software can help people with physical disabilities not just to get from point A to point B, but also with actual employment opportunities, and we are thrilled that GEODIS is using our technology for good.”