Knowing the numbers is one of the best ways to identify areas of improvements and the measure the success of your adjustments. Every area of your warehouse and its processes can benefit from an analysis and that includes the use of forklifts. While it is an inherent function of the work, forklift operation does have associated costs in time and money. There is new technology that will allow to collect data regarding their use that may reveal inefficiencies.
Adding telematics and on-board computer dashboards to your lift truck fleet will provide real time information regarding their operation. Much like fleet management software in the trucking industry, data on fork lifts will include speed, hours operated and fuel utilization, but will also record impacts, down time and other environmental factors.
Such information can help a warehouse manager determine if there are enough, or too many, fork lifts on hand. Software is also available for order pickers, reach trucks, pallet jacks and other material handling equipment. The cost is offset by realizing where the fleet might be downsized, or units placed where they can be of the best use. Excess fleet can be sold to help fund the project or reassigned to other areas of the company.
The ability to measure productivity is key to finding areas of improvements. Reports can be run that show:
- Average travel time
- Actual travel time
- Travel to lift ratio
- Actual lift time
- Time stopped
- Time stopped with no operator
- Number of impacts
- Truck maintenance
- Forklift operator productivity
- Hours by operator
- Fuel consumption
These reports are hugely beneficial to management in placing enough equipment and operators throughout not just one warehouse, but across an entire operation. For instance, the travel to lift ratio tells a warehouse manager when a lift truck in moving without a load. To increase productivity, the goal would be to find a “return load” on every trip.
Safety may also be improved. Operators are more aware of their movements being tracked and impacts recorded automatically. This leads to safer operation. The software also requires the daily inspections, which makes the warehouse OSHA compliant and reduces the opportunities to have a missed day of operation inspection.
Warehouse managers are often in tune with what is happening in their facility but having the ability to track the numbers to back it up is a powerful management tool that can keep you operating lean and mean into the future.