Does Your Forklift Fleet Management Need Improvements?
A thorough forklift fleet management plan can increase profitability, safety, visibility and more. People should strongly consider reviewing their existing strategies and see if they’re as effective as possible. Consider the signs below as proof it’s time to make meaningful changes.
Too Much of the Budget Is Spent on Upkeep
Regular maintenance is essential for a forklift’s safe operation. However, there often comes a time when the overall money to maintain the vehicle’s functionality becomes prohibitively costly. That’s why one of the best ways to enhance forklift fleet management is to deploy solutions with predictive capabilities. Then, algorithms can alert people to problems days or weeks before a forklift breaks down.
However, people must start with the basics when maintaining forklifts. They can do that without relying on smart sensors or new platforms. One tip is to use a gauge to check the forks for unevenness. Put the tool above the fork bend and make contact with the fork’s horizontal and vertical lengths. Check that the measurement is close to 90° and repeat the process with the second fork.
Even all-encompassing maintenance strategies can’t make forklifts work indefinitely, though. It’s a good practice for people to refer to upkeep records for individual forklifts — especially those that break down more frequently than others. Storing that content digitally in the cloud makes access easier. They should also listen to the advice of technicians, who usually tell forklift owners when it may be better to replace a problematic forklift instead of continuing to repair it.
Newer forklift models can also align with efforts to minimize emissions. Designers have created options with significantly reduced carbon monoxide output from the tailpipe. Alternatively, company leaders could invest in electric forklifts. They’re emissions-free vehicles — save for those produced during the manufacturing process.
Since forklifts are integral to many warehouse and logistics processes, any unplanned downtime can be extremely costly and disruptive to the workflow. Fortunately, people have plenty of potential ways to improve forklift fleet management, including predictive analytics and digital recordkeeping tools.
Company Unable or Unwilling to Make Data-Driven Decisions
People use forklifts in busy logistics facilities that handle thousands of products or parcels daily.
Now that more businesses offer those vehicles with onboard telematics solutions, people can start using data to learn more about how they use forklifts. Individuals can learn things such as the average operating time per day, which drivers spend the most time using forklifts and even the weight and dimensions of pallets handled by forklifts.
However, estimates from John Rosenberger — a telematics executive with The Raymond Corporation — suggest only 40% of companies are active and consistent users of lift truck telematics. Even the people in that group quickly become overwhelmed and lose focus on the details within the data. Rosenberger believes another 30%–40% of people use forklift telematics data casually. He also said telematics only comprise about 2%–8% of a powered industrial truck’s cost, meaning data collection capabilities don’t add significant expenses.
These statistics show people must do more than invest in technology that allows them to improve forklift fleet management. It’s also vital they commit to learning the new skills and setting aside the necessary time required to make the most of the data at their disposal.
Decision-makers should take a historical look at how they’ve managed their fleets over the last several months or years. How often have they tried or been able to rely on data when making the appropriate choices? If they can’t remember or know there have only been a few occasions, those are strong indicators it’s time to do better.
Increased Accident Rates or Other Driver Safety Incidents
People sometimes overlook how forklift fleet management can — and should — incorporate personnel-related aspects. When enterprises experience upward trends in accidents, cases of unauthorized usage or other safety issues, fleet management tools can reduce those problems.
Some products on the market enforce access control. Besides telling supervisors which drivers access individual forklifts in real time, technologies can indicate the vehicle’s total operating time and whether someone drove it out of a preset geofenced boundary.
Managers can also drill down and see data about potential hazardous operations. Did someone operate the vehicle with the side door open or not wearing their seatbelt? Maybe they drove the forklift excessively fast or turned corners too sharply. Telematics tools can detect those actions, giving supervisors the data to justify disciplinary procedures.
Solutions also exist that can help people get to the bottom of safety patterns. Perhaps recent accidents occurred three times more during a particular shift than others. A closer look at the data may show more than half the employees typically working at that time have less than six months of forklift operator experience. If so, that information might encourage the HR department to schedule training more frequently and ensure the curriculum is sufficiently intensive.
Solving Compliance-Related Issues
This type of forklift fleet management could also reveal instances of people not complying with probationary requirements. A manager may tell an employee who has recently engaged in unsafe forklift driving that they can only operate the vehicle with their direct supervisor watching. Telematics tools could flag occasions where someone used the forklift without that manager nearby.
These products could also alert people to instances where workers operate forklift types that don’t match the licenses they hold. Getting alerted to those instances could save companies from preventable regulatory scrutiny. It could also give leaders more peace of mind, knowing problems won’t take them off guard.
Start Improving Forklift Fleet Management Today
Knowing about existing problems with forklift fleet management is the first step to addressing them. The examples above illustrate some telltale signs of room for improvement, plus how companies can take actionable steps for the better. One smart option is to choose one area of forklift operations to focus on initially, then scale up the usage of new solutions once they prove their worth.
No technology can tackle all issues, but data collection and telematics products can substantially elevate overall visibility. When people are more aware of what happens with forklifts used by their organizations, they can verify the return on investment shown by those machines, see how the forklifts enable higher productivity and use data to cut down on safety threats.