Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

Optimizing Warehouse Efficiency in your Warehouse Facility

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Nov 19, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Efficient warehouse operations are key to remaining relevant in today's competitive environment. As more customers raise the bar on expedited delivery, most warehouse, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities must seek new ways to cut costs and streamline operations. But optimizing efficiency can be simpler than it seems. arrow-394145_640-1

Here’s how.

Striving for optimum efficiency

There are several challenges that are probably impeding optimum efficiency in your facility. From poorly planned storage space and layout to idle time and increased labor costs, managers struggle to realize efficiency goals. Ultimately the best thing you can do for your enterprise is to cultivate a plan that minimize costs by maximizing efficiency.

How do you begin to optimize daily business functions? Begin by evaluating the success and challenges of the past year. Identifying strengths and weakness lets you create a leaner initiative plan for the coming year to better address the specific areas of your business that need improvement.

For example, look at:

1. Product movement

It is essential to continuously evaluate your warehouse layout and material flow. The smooth movement of your fleet is a priority. Were there issues with routing that slowed down productivity? Were there enough operators on the floor to move the inventory and meet demand? Did operators sit idle when they should have been working? A telematic system with operator report cards and documented vehicle monitoring identifies where movement slowed and why.

Telematic insight facilitates a more complete picture of forklift utilization in your facility, including trends and patterns in forklift and operator usage. More specifically, it provides:

  • Improved accountability with less unproductive time
  • Increased drive time and pallet moves per hour
  • Decreased drive distance and drive times with optimized routing
  • Reduced variability between drivers and increased average shift performance
  • Centralized traffic control for mixed fleets

2. Unexpected down-time & maintenance costs

Vehicle down time is the enemy of productivity and profits. Telematic software can monitor if preventive maintenance is regularly completed, and quickly respond to sudden repair and maintenance needs.

Rising maintenance costs may be caused by poor operator behavior. A recent case study revealed that up to 75% of forklift maintenance expenses can be caused by operator error, so track operator  performance and productivity using your telematic reports and address any driver complacency issues, safety infractions or training needs.

3. Impacts, injuries and damaged product

Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it. There are patterns to be found in the near-misses and accidents in your facility. Your telematic software should provide historical insight about driver behavior. You can’t work to prevent a problem unless you identify the underlying reason it happened.

Recent technological advances in telematics and warehouse management systems ensure that all equipment and employees working within your warehouse are monitored and well-managed, which is vital to optimizing efficiency throughout the entire operation.

Topics: forklift costs, distribution center, loss avoidance, forklift impacts, value driven strategies, waste stream reduction, cost reduction

Read More

Ways to Reduce Waste & Boost Warehouse Productivity Next Year

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Oct 24, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Each year, your facility probably tries to identify and reduce waste while increasing product flow to better meet the demand for expedited. But can an enterprise realistically reduce waste and boost warehouse productivity at the same time? Yes, it can.  customer-focus-1

Here’s the challenge

Customers have a need for speed and accuracy but keeping up with this growing demand requires faster flow-through of inventory, accurate inventory tracking and operators who know how to prioritize tasks and get the job done.

Other obstacles include:

  • Severe weather’s impact on shipment schedules.
  • WMS that can’t analyze the data and anticipate customer demand for product, so delivery delays occur.
  • Controlling the flow of product within the facility and information throughout the supply chain falters due to poor tracking methods and communication strategies.
  • Ineffective placement of fast-moving product creates delays in order fulfilment.
  • Poor layout and routing of forklifts creates idle time and wasted minutes moving an order from point A to point B, traffic issues on the warehouse or manufacturing floor and near-misses or accidents.
  • LEAN initiatives become harder to facilitate during periods of high-demand.

Here’s the solution

Telematic data can help facilitate a clear path to your 2020 goals, letting you reduce waste and boost warehouse productivity. Many warehouse and manufacturing operations deploy advanced telematics to achieve better control - with greater ease, as they stive to keep up with more big data information and a growing global economy.

Your software platform should allow you to:

  • Quickly meet the demand of a growing customer base and custom orders (pick-and-choose orders)
  • Anticipate customer demand to ensure stock was readily available
  • Ensure transparency and the ability to track inventory from the time it arrives at the warehouse to the time it reaches its destination
  • Stay on top of proper maintenance of forklifts, equipment and the facility to protect assets and goods

Fact is, the right data from advanced telematics at your fingertips simplifies the process, helping to instantly identify areas of risk or where value is lost.  Insight includes:

Fleet utilization

Provides insight on operator and vehicle use, letting you right-sizing the fleet.

Advanced location

Analysis determines better warehouse traffic patterns, reduces pedestrian injuries, and facilitates more productive work schedules. Managers learn real-time vehicle location with proximity to product.

Battery monitoring

Analyzes the health of batteries, the state of charge, opportunity charging, fluid levels, and temperature.

Impact data

Records impact information combined with advanced location and determines where impacts happen historically. Root cause can be determined to avoid future damage and injuries.

Monitoring and checklists

Forklift monitoring alerts managers to equipment issues, repairs, or required maintenance before it poses any risk. Required safety checklists must be completed before forklifts will operate.

Advances in telematics can help you implement leaner work processes, cut costs and improve productivity. Advanced telematics quickly analyzed all warehouse conditions to deliver real-time answers and solutions to meeting your goals.

Topics: continuous improvement, value driven strategies, connected warehouse solutions, transparency, safety versus productivity, waste stream reduction, lean, cost reduction

Read More

Why Invest in Battery Monitoring?

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Oct 3, 2019 4:00:00 AM

There are probably several things you could do to improve inventory movement and boost your facility's bottom line, but battery monitoring might be the easiest one to implement and generate the greatest results.  battery-1688854_640(1)

 Battery monitoring technology is an investment that pays off because it  easily lets you drive efficiency by monitoring your batteries, the charging habits, and the rotations of equipment – all of which saves money. According to SupplyChain 24/7,  battery monitoring and regular scheduled maintenance can help a business avoid major pain-points caused by unexpected equipment issues and it can reduce the costs of doing business.

Value-driven reasons to invest battery monitoring technology

  1. Reduce frequency of battery replacement purchases. Replacement costs for batteries can be thousands of dollars, so prolonging battery lifespan can reduce what your business spends each year on battery units. With monitoring technology you can eliminate a common error – premature charging – which eats away at battery lifespans. Each charge costs a battery a cycle, cutting its lifespan. Knowing when to charge is as important as knowing how to charge.
  2. Reduce downtime and productivity losses.
    Battery monitoring facilitates optimal fleet performance by eliminate habits that cut into warehouse productivity –like time lost from opportunity charging or swapping equipment mid-shift. For example, it provides accurate details – like when charges are occurring, targeted temperature readings, and the state of each charge – in real-time.
  3. Management and right-sizing of equipment.
    Detailed data analysis can help you determine, for instance, which trucks are causing amperage overloads and what operators are topping off. Monitoring can also help determine how many batteries. Three batteries for each forklift is typical, inventory today can possibly be reduced by “pooling and more effectively managing batteries”- through monitoring technology.

Battery monitoring delivers measurable ROI

When a manager can make educated adjustments – driven by real-time data on SOC, amperage, temperature, voltage, and recharge protocol – it leads to longer battery life and greater efficiency. Those small, important details determine what is working well, what is not, and deliver help ROI.

  • For example, discharged batteries are left sitting and are not recharged right away. Batteries left sitting uncharged for extended periods allow for hard sulphation and significant loss of run-time strength, and it reduces the battery lifespan. Identifying this detail –and addressing it – can saves time, frustration and money.
  • Battery watering is a typical maintenance requirement, but how it is done is rarely optimal and can be damaging to equipment and productivity. It is possible to over-water or under-water a battery unless a system is in place to monitor correct procedure.

With proper charging, cleaning and care, batteries have an expected lifespan of approximately 1,500 cycles — lasting approximately five years. But this only occurs under the right conditions. Battery monitoring technology provides the data needed to get the most life out of each unit and to provide optimum battery care.

 

Topics: fleet monitoring, telematic diagnostics, battery monitoring, value driven strategies, waste stream reduction, cost reduction

Read More

The Cost of a Warehouse Operation Resistant to Change

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Sep 19, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Process changes can be a struggle and often those in upper management are the most resistant to change. This is especially true when it involves upgrading warehouse technology. The argument is that change is costly and confusing, but the truth is that avoiding emerging technologies can cost a company its competitive edge and profitability. logistics-748152_1280

Understanding new software and integrating it with current systems can send workers running. In all fairness, implementing technological upgrades hasn’t always been easy. But today’s innovative telematic software merges seamlessly with current warehouse systems, is simple to navigate and to understand.

Changing needs

Data that languishes in poorly connected systems typically is out of date and unreliable, which results in inefficient warehouse operations. Process integration must merge information in a way that appropriately, and quickly, solves your specific business challenges

Ideally, decisions in your facility should be the product of easy to digest data and real-time insight. Adjustments can be made moment to moment to prevent delays, improve safety and boost productivity and profits.

Poor performance from an old system is not your fault. Failing to recognize this and make changes is. Are you and your employees resistant to using new technology and doing things differently – even if it means greater success at a reduced cost?

  • Are you still putting off upgrades to your old warehouse management system and the use of advanced telematic data?
  • Do you have access to real-time insight on one screen, which facilitates quick action that supports safety and improves efficiencies?
  • Do you know that your current WMS can be easily merged with a telematic software platform to work together seamlessly to deliver actionable information that everyone can understand?
  • Can your old system drill down to the root cause of daily challenges quickly, or are you spending too much time running reports to accomplish this?

Why resisting upgrades costs your business more

Capabilities gained from a telematics system can be financially beneficial to your facility for several reasons. It shows digestible facts about current conditions and exactly where changes made generated improvement and cut costs. It also pinpoints problem KPIs, why they are off target, and gives direction so everyone understands what needs to be done.

For example:

  • Operator Report Card – provides data at a singular operator level or at a group level. This data provides a holistic view of how well your operators are performing.
  • Simultaneous Utilization Reports – provides data on operator and forklift utilization at any given time.
  • Advanced Location – provides data on traffic patterns, where impacts occur, as well as traffic violations pertaining to pedestrian walkway or safe zones and speeding.

Many businesses have a change resistant culture but upgrading your software platform can empower all employees to accomplishing more and improve efficiency. With real-time telematic data you gain leaner management principals, remain competitive, and realize continuous improvement.

Topics: distribution center, warehousing, proactive warehouse management, one-screen access, value driven strategies, waste stream reduction, cost reduction, root cause, operator report card, telematic data

Read More

Warehouse & Manufacturing Industries - Create a LEAN Thinking Facility

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Sep 3, 2019 4:00:00 AM

If you are wondering how you can quantify the time spent on LEAN initiatives within your warehousing or manufacturing operation, you are probably doing it all wrong. Managers successfully generate a LEANer operation by creating a culture of LEAN thinking, not by drafting an additional list of tasks to accomplish. justice-423446_640

Let’s face it: a LEAN facility is no longer the wave of the future. It’s a part of remaining competitive and relevant in your market, and it’s embedded in your company’s public image.  The question is, are LEAN initiatives a mirage or are they really generating continuous improvement in your operation?

How to create a genuinely LEANer facility

Warehouse and manufacturing management is continuously evolving with increased demands and the advent of new technology. Balancing time, costs, and all the moving parts within an operation is a daunting challenge, never mind trying to generate continuous improvement. As you try and create a LEANer operation, ask yourself this:

1. What improvement targets will generate the greatest results? Based on your data analysis, you should be able to identify key areas for process improvement and then determine how to accomplish it by working smarter.

Solution: You probably use data insights to improve overall efficiency. But, with the right platform, you can also use that same telematic monitoring data to identify and predict potential problems before they occur and reduce bottlenecking in inventory movement.

2. How would operators improve the processes? Have you asked for input as to how things could change to improve movement or ease problems?

Solution: Train lower-level managers to think LEAN. Ask operators why problems have occurred and what could be changed to improve productivity. Operators who are engaged in this LEAN initiative will start bringing issues to your attention, and they will feel their opinion matters.

3. Why are some orders not filled on time or are significantly delayed?  Reducing cycle times and creating new capacity by removing constraints and doing things LEANer can help customers get their orders more quickly, and it can result in huge improvements in sales. It can even reduce the capital required to carry inventory.

For example, are vehicle repairs completed in a timely manner? Does excessive idle time occur with certain operators? Is inventory moved more than it needs to be?

Solution: There are numerous costs associated with downtime and delays, so your maintenance strategy should be monitored. Forklift monitoring and inventory tracking can eliminate time wasted searching for misplaced pallets by linking forklift movement with data on the pallets. 

Lean warehousing is a mindset, not a just program you deploy. In contrast to traditional management methods, it requires changing the culture of a warehouse and the way employees think about everyday tasks.

Your telematics platform should provide answers and solutions to creating a LEANer facility. It should be simple to use, on one screen, letting you quickly identify the root cause of inefficiencies and a solution.

Topics: benchmarking, inventory tracking, continuous improvement, Lean warehousing, Lean 5S, one-screen access, expanding business, value driven strategies, connected warehouse solutions, waste stream reduction, cost reduction

Read More

Why Forklift Battery Monitoring Delivers High ROI

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Aug 22, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Battery care is essential to productivity and reducing replacement costs. But, it is so easy to fall into a pattern of neglect while striving to get product moved and out the door on schedule. The solution to this challenge is battery-monitoring technology, which can vastly improve the health and lifespan of your batteries and deliver unprecedented ROI. dead-battery-1623377_640-1

Fleet-management software provides battery monitoring, which maximizes battery efficiency. It allows operators to see the status of each battery while in use, providing an accurate assessment of battery health, when charges are occurring, targeted temperature readings, and the state of each charge.  

Here’s how:

Adhere to scheduled maintenance & proper charging techniques.

Battery monitoring and regular maintenance will prevent many unexpected equipment issues and reduce the operational cost of doing business. Monitoring information allows for proactive decisions based on real-time data on SOC; amperage, temperature, voltage; and even recharging.

Why does this matter? Batteries must get fully recharged daily to efficiently function through their normal run-time and to last their expected lifespan. Premature charging eats away at the battery lifespan because each charge costs the battery one of its (approximate) 1,500 total life cycles. A battery should be charged once each work day — at the end of each shift, or whenever one is more than 30% discharged. 

Reduce downtime and associated costs.

When you know how batteries are being cared for, you can eliminate habits that cut productivity, like time lost from opportunity charging or swapping equipment mid-shift.

Prevent premature charging practices that shorten battery life.

Knowing when to charge is as important as knowing how to charge. Each charge costs a battery a cycle, cutting its lifespan. Replacement costs for batteries can be thousands of dollars, so it is vital to your bottom line to prolong the lifespans of your batteries.

Reduce battery idle time.

Batteries left sitting uncharged for extended periods are subject to hard sulphation and significant loss of run-time strength that reduce the battery’s lifespan.

Monitor & ensure proper battery watering.

Battery watering is a typical maintenance requirement, but it is often done incorrectly, which is damaging to equipment and productivity. It is possible to over-water or under-water a battery unless a system is in place to monitor correct procedure.

The quest for longer battery life

Forklift batteries are a big expense, especially if they do not power your fleet as expected or if that lack of power leads to an accident. Battery-monitoring technology facilitates the ultimate care of your batteries — telling you the battery’s discharge, temperature, voltage, and amperage with real-time alerts while in use, before damage or potential accidents occur.

While most new batteries last up to five years, long battery life requires proper charging, cleaning, and maintenance. Battery-monitoring technology provides the data you need make improvements that allow you to be proactive in extending the life of your batteries and fleet.

Topics: battery monitoring technology, warehouse efficiencies, forklift costs, cloud-hosting, fleet monitoring, battery monitoring, value driven strategies, cost reduction

Read More