We used to value lift trucks because of their brawn, but today it’s more about their brains — or, rather, what their technology can do for you. In this age of big data, it is time to ask yourself, “How can data-driven trucks benefit my business?”
Big data takes the guesswork out of making operational changes to improve productivity. For example, data-driven lift trucks analyze your operation and give you feedback on where you can cut costs or improve safety. You are no longer relying on educated guesses when you have this real-time feedback.
According to an article in Modern Materials Handling, today’s data from automated systems can drive productivity for warehouses, but the next big improvement opportunity will come from the wealth of data collected by smart lift trucks.
4 reasons data-driven lift trucks will benefit your operation
- Targeted and documented safety and maintenance protocol: OSHA has a long list of safety checks for lift trucks, and managing them manually allows plenty of room for error or omissions. By using Electronic Safety Checklists (SCL), vehicles will not start unless the checks have been performed — eliminating the risk of human error, a lag in reporting on safety violations, and noncompliant vehicles remaining in use. It also puts your records in order in event of an OSHA audit. Having a formal system to track the time, place, and cause of any impact gives you the opportunity to make changes before a more serious event occurs.
- Measured efficiencies in fleet operations: You could be wasting resources if you do not know whether your fleet is operating at capacity or what downtime costs you. The lack of maintenance tracking alone can sideline vehicles — and downtime is one of the biggest productivity killers in the warehouse. Forklift trucks and drivers account for as much as 80 percent of operating expenses, so targeting where improvements or further driver training is needed can save time and money.
- Real-time visibility that can make or break warehouse operations: Do you know what your fleet is doing at all times? Do you track each pallet? Do you know how much time each forklift spends active with load? Data-driven lift trucks give you this visibility, removing blind spots in your warehouse for instant insight into fleet movement, driver activity, and vehicle utilization.
- Measured analysis of the fleet’s overall productivity: Adding telematics devices to the lift-truck fleet helps right-size it. So you learn if trucks you assumed were very active are actually running half that amount of time — or if one truck might be in use for only a few minutes. This allows you to eliminate what you don’t need, which cuts costs.
Real-time data from your lift trucks improves productivity, reduces product damage, identifies repair/maintenance needs, and even pinpoints operators in need of training. Small changes in fleet and labor productivity surpass large improvements in other cost areas and are key to growing your business.