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 are as effective as possible. Consider the signs below as proof that it’s time to make meaningful changes.

Too much of the budget is spent on maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential for the safe operation of a lift truck. However, there often comes a time when the total money to maintain the functionality of the vehicle becomes prohibitive. That’s why one of the best ways to improve forklift fleet management is to use solutions with predictive capabilities. Then algorithms can warn people about problems days or weeks before a forklift breaks down.

When servicing lift trucks, however, one must start with the basics. They can do this without being dependent on smart sensors or new platforms. One tip is to use a gauge to check the forks for bumps. Place the tool above the fork bend and contact the horizontal and vertical length of the fork. Check that measurement is almost 90° and repeat the process with the second fork.

However, even comprehensive maintenance strategies cannot keep forklifts running indefinitely. It is good practice for people to check the maintenance records of individual forklift trucks, especially the ones that break down more often 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 might be better to replace a problem forklift rather than continue to repair it.

Newer forklift models can also join efforts to minimize emissions. Designers have created options with significantly reduced exhaust carbon monoxide emissions. Alternatively, business leaders could invest in electric forklifts. They are zero-emission vehicles, except for those produced during the manufacturing process.

Because forklift trucks are an integral part of many warehouse and logistics processes, any unplanned downtime can be extremely costly and disrupt workflow. Fortunately, people have plenty of potential ways to improve forklift fleet management, including predictive analytics and digital archiving tools.

Company is unable or unwilling to make data-driven decisions

People use forklifts in busy logistics facilities that handle thousands of products or packages every day.

With more companies offering vehicles with telematics solutions on board, 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 forklift trucks, and even the weight and size of pallets handled by forklift trucks.

However, estimates from John Rosenberger – a telematics executive at The Raymond Corporation – only suggest 40% of companies are active and consistent users of forklift telematics. Even the people in that group quickly become overwhelmed and lose focus on the details in the data. Rosenberger believes that another 30% to 40% of people casually use forklift telematics data. He also said that telematics accounts for only about 2% to 8% of the cost of a motorized industrial truck, meaning the data collection capabilities do not come at a significant cost.

These statistics show that people need to do more than just invest in technology that can improve the management of their forklift fleet. It is also vital that they commit to learning the new skills and carve out the necessary time needed to make the most of the data at their disposal.

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Decision makers should take a historical look at how they have managed their fleet over the past few months or years. How often have they tried or can rely on data to make the right choices? If they can’t remember or know it’s only been a few times, those are strong indicators that it’s time to do better.

Increased accident rates or other incidents related to driver safety

People sometimes overlook how forklift fleet management can and should include personnel related aspects. When companies experience upward trends in accidents, unauthorized use or other safety issues, fleet management tools can mitigate these issues.

Some products on the market enforce access control. In addition to telling supervisors in real time which drivers have access to individual forklift trucks, technologies can indicate the total operating time of the vehicle and whether anyone has driven it outside a pre-set geofence boundary.

Managers can also drill down and view data on potentially dangerous operations. Has anyone operated the vehicle with the side door open or without their seatbelt? Maybe they were driving the forklift too fast or making sharp turns. Telematics tools can detect those actions and provide supervisors with the data to justify disciplinary proceedings.

Solutions also exist that can help people sort out safety patterns. Perhaps three times as many accidents occurred during one shift as during others. A closer look at the data shows that more than half of the employees who normally work at the time have less than six months of experience as a lift truck driver. If so, that information could prompt the HR department to schedule training more often and ensure that the curriculum is sufficiently intensive.

Resolve compliance-related issues

This type of forklift fleet management can also uncover cases of people not meeting probation requirements. A manager may tell an employee who has recently driven a forklift unsafely to operate the vehicle only under the supervision of his immediate supervisor. Telematics tools can identify occasions when someone was operating the forklift without that manager being around.

These products can also alert people to instances where employees are using forklifts that do not match the licenses they hold. Being made aware of such instances can save companies from avoidable regulatory scrutiny. It can also give leaders more peace of mind, knowing that problems won’t overwhelm them.

Start improving forklift fleet management today

Knowing 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 businesses can take actionable steps for the better. A smart option is to choose one area of ​​forklift operations to focus on initially, then scale up the use of new solutions once they have proven their worth.

No single technology can address all issues, but data collection and telematics products can significantly improve overall visibility. When people are more aware of what is happening with forklifts used by their organization, they can verify the return on investment of those machines, see how the forklifts enable higher productivity and use data to reduce safety risks.

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