Your warehouse is humming with activity and inventory is on the move, so things may seem to be operating efficiently. But looks can be deceptive, especially if you have not recently right-sized your fleet.
It’s a well-known fact that right-sizing your warehouse fleet can save significant cash — from cutting the costs of operating several lift-trucks to the training and salary of drivers. So, it’s important that right-sizing your fleet is done based upon the evaluation of facts, not guesses or gut instinct.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need all the trucks currently in operation?
- Do you have the right mix of trucks, with the right amount of power and capabilities to handle expected workloads?
- When was the last time you took inventory of your fleet vehicles? Do you know how many you have?
- How much idle time does each truck log on any given shift? Why is this happening?
- If you were to change routing or driver assignments, could you improve the utilization of your fleet vehicles?
Using data to right=size your fleet
Perhaps you have made efforts to right-size your fleet in the past. But did you know there's actually a 50% chance that it is not done accurately? Some fleet managers are not even certain how many trucks are in operation.
It helps to use vehicle-tracking telematics to know exactly what you are working with, to measure your fleet, and gauge exactly how efficiently each truck is being operated.
For example, if you measure how a truck is being used and how much of the time it’s idle, you might find that instead of 10 trucks in the shipping department, you only need eight. Fleet management software provides this data, so you know exactly how many vehicles are under-performing.
Addressing poor fleet performance
Once you identify that there are inefficient fleet vehicles in operation, the next step is to address why. Some things you might need to try include:
- Look at the real-time movement of traffic and perhaps reroute lift-trucks to safer, more efficient paths
- Examine red flags on operator report cards and get to know each forklift driver’s typical behavior. Do some drivers take extended breaks or take longer than others to complete the same task?
- Are the right vehicles being assigned to the task at hand?
- Could some of the fleet be used more efficiently, reducing the number of trucks needed?
What’s gained by fleet downsizing
After you sit down and consider all this information, you may determine that there is room to downsize and still maintain productivity. In many cases, an overall fleet-size reduction in the range of 5-10 percent is a reasonable expectation.
And consider what you gain by fleet downsizing. Fewer trucks means reduced costs.
- A $10,000 forklift truck can cost $145,000 a year to operate.
- Forklift trucks and drivers account for 80 percent of operating expenses.
- Lift-truck maintenance ranks second or third behind operational cost, with the cost of new batteries ranging from $3,000 to $7,000.
It is a costly error to assume your fleet is operating at full capacity. But your evaluation must be based on facts. Gain this insight from fleet-monitoring telematics to easily determine the correct number of lift-trucks required in your facility and to pinpoint where downsizing could reduce fleet operational costs.