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Does Your Forklift Fleet Management Need Improvements?


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.

forklift trucks

How has the Role of Forklift Trucks Evolved in Warehousing Operations Landscape Amid Flourishing E-commerce Presence Worldwide?

The rising global prevalence of technology and connectivity has set off a significant transformation of the industrial landscape, especially in the retail domain. As the world moves to an increasingly digitized platform, e-commerce, or electronic commerce, commonly associated with online shopping, is rapidly establishing itself as a favored retail choice among consumers. In fact, studies have shown that almost 95% of all shopping will be facilitated through e-commerce by 2040.

With such a prolific rise expected in e-commerce adoption over the forthcoming years, the demand for robust warehousing and distribution facilities takes significant precedence. This, in turn, augments the need for efficient material handling systems and components to ensure proper storage, loading, transport activities in the warehouses.

Since product transport is one of the most integral roles in the e-commerce distribution ecosystem, the forklift market is likely to garner tremendous interest as retail and shopping activities continue their transition to the online platform.

What are forklifts?

Forklift trucks, also known as jitneys or lift trucks, refer to a class of vehicles designed for industrial use. These systems comprise a power-operated platform attached to the front, which can be raised or lowered as required to lift or move cargo. The term forklift is derived from these platforms, which are usually in the form of fork-like prongs. Lift trucks are used across myriad industrial sectors for the efficient transport of goods and materials.

The origins of these systems can be traced back to 1887, when the first material handling equipment, known as a two-wheel hand truck, was created using a combination of wheels and iron axles. However, the history of the modern forklift is more commonly associated with the invention of the Tructractor by the Clark Equipment Company, in 1917. The machine, which is often credited as being the first forklift, was essentially a tractor with an attachment for product handling, bearing only a minor resemblance to their modern-day successors.

Since its inception, the forklift industry has undergone several evolutions. The industrial impact of this material handling equipment over the years has been profound, evidenced most prominently during its contribution to boosting efficiency and productivity in workforces during World War I and World War II eras.

Rising prevalence of e-commerce solutions amid turbulent global conditions

While e-commerce itself is on its way to establishing a firm presence in the retail landscape, the ongoing global crisis stemming from the coronavirus outbreak has brought about a significant shift in consumer preferences and behavior. The rise in demand across the globe for essential and daily goods, alongside limitations due to social distancing and quarantine protocols has breathed new life into the e-commerce journey, as more and more people turn towards online portals for safer and quicker shopping experiences.

Fueled by this expansion of e-commerce, logistics systems, including warehouses and distribution facilities have grown tremendously in number, thus accelerating the demand for lift trucks and other warehouse solutions.

E-commerce solutions are most attractive to consumers due to the various benefits and conveniences they offer over conventional shopping experiences, including free and faster delivery of products, hassle-free returns and exchanges, and wider selections, among others. In order to fulfill these benefits, warehouse and distribution operations need to be extremely efficient, in terms of timely movement and transport of products to and from the facility, making the role of forklift trucks a crucial one for the industry.

Many prominent figures in the e-commerce and retail-associated industries have taken heed of this and started to develop innovative warehouse transport technologies to cater to the rapidly surging demand for online products. A notable example of this is global delivery service DHL, which has implemented several technologies including AI, self-driving vehicles and robotic lift trucks, etc., at its North America warehouses, to accommodate evolving product demand.

Technological advancements shaping the forklift industry

The forklift industry has witnessed several advancements over the years. These progressions, which range from mobility solution to automation to power source technology evolution, each assert a considerable impact on the way the modern fork truck functions.

Chief among these advancements is the emergence of environmentally friendly forklift technologies, given the burgeoning costs of fuels and the rising impact of climate change on the global ecological structure. According to some studies, energy-efficient lift trucks can last over 20-30% longer than their internal combustion engine-based counterparts.

In light of this knowledge, several companies have forayed into the development of energy-efficient electric forklifts to cater to the evolving warehousing demand from the retail industry. For instance, GMH (Godrej Material Handling) has recently unveiled the three-wheel Bravo Electric Forklift for the 1.6-2 ton category, equipped with an advanced battery solution for optimum product transport and handling.

Apart from the ecological standpoint, forklift trucks have also undergone a significant transformation in terms of mobility, as was evidenced by the launch of the Sidewinder ATX-3000 forklift by Vetex, which is an omnidirectional lift truck, owing to a series of rollers used in place of traditional solid or pneumatic tires.

Automation has asserted its impact across the industrial spectrum in myriad applications, and fork truck technology is no different. Automated lift trucks are equipped with a host of sophisticated technological systems including guidance systems that help them self-navigate through warehouses and facilitate automatic pick-up and drop of products, with little to no human intervention required.

These systems are reshaping the way forklift trucks function across various industries including warehouse, automotive, manufacturing, and more. The Raymond Corporation has recently introduced an automated lift truck stacker that leverages vision-guidance technology from Seegrid Corporation, to enable autonomous stacking from pick-up to delivery locations.

Source: Global Market Insights