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

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A Costly OSHA Violation Could be Reimbursed If  Unjustified

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Oct 31, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Safety is one of the biggest, most costly concerns in the supply chain industry and OSHA violations can be extremely costly. But what if your facility is fined erroneously? While it is very common for day-to-day operations to become lax when it comes to safety protocol, it is also possible for OSHA to make mistakes in its evaluation. hammer-1537123_640

The good, and possibly surprising, news is that there are circumstances in which OSHA will actually pay an employer’s attorney’s fees, but only in cases where OSHA is wrong in its judgment.

What you should know

So, if your business is cited for a safety violation by OSHA, and there is good reason to believe it was not justified, you may be able to get help under a federal law. This is particularly true if your business can’t afford to pay an attorney to fight the claims.

It is called the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and it may provide your company with the backup it needs to have the government foot the bill for challenging an erroneous OSHA citation.

EAJA details

  • The EAJA can award attorney’s fees and cover other expenses to eligible parties in certain administrative proceedings. Your business must be able to prove limited resources and be unable to afford the costs to challenge the citation on its own.
  • It includes the cost of going before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
  • The OSHRC must find that OSHA’s position on the violations handed down were not justified in order for compensation to be granted. In other words, it does not cover your costs if you lose.
  • OSHA will have the burden to show that its position was substantially justified. If OSHA fails to prove their case, the OSHRC may award your business reasonable attorney fees and witness costs.

Avoiding OSHA violations

Sustaining a safe work environment in a warehouse or manufacturing facility is a complex task. The more locations an enterprise has the harder it becomes to monitor, track and enforce safety.

In order to ensure safety standards are met, a uniformed way of monitoring and recording safety processes needs to be in place.

Telematic safety solutions lets your enterprise monitor and maintain a culture of safety and delivers complete documentation of everything needed to save time and reduce injury to its workforce and the potential for OSHA fines.

For example:

  • Do a monthly site assessment to break down the hazards contributing to incidents.
  • Use telematic data on the 5 whys (who, what, where, when and why) when a violation happens allows you to prevent a repeat incident.
  • Personalized safety checklists are ideal because they will fit the unique demands and risks within your facility.
  • Use automated safety checklists to provide documented proof that safety checks were conducted and telematic software should also lock out vehicles from use if they fail inspection.

By monitoring safety checklists and protocols in your facility, and knowing your options should you need to challenge an OSHA citation, you could save your business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Topics: forklift accidents, OSHA checklists, injuries, Documentation of impacts, warehousing industry incidents & violations, forklift impacts, lockout/tagout function, accident reporting

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Hidden Risks - Manufacturing and Warehouse Safety Simplified

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Oct 22, 2019 4:00:00 AM

 Warehouse safety management involves more than just having rules. It takes preventive action. You know that obvious risks like horseplay, speeding and irresponsible driving should be addressed immediately in your facility. But, what about those common everyday slips in safety protocol? How are you managing those hidden risks? Fork lift with operator working in warehouse

One of the biggest mistakes we can make while working in a warehouse environment is underestimating the real possibility of injury while completing routine tasks. Let’s face it, shortcuts and risk-taking happens and it’s usually without much thought about what is at stake.

But the stakes are higher in a warehouse or manufacturing facility. In fact, manufacturing ranked second in the number of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses by private industry, and fifth in incidence rates. Statistically, one in 10 forklifts will be involved in an accident this year, and approximately 100,000 workers will be injured due to improper training or complacency on the job.

A warehouse manager should always be looking at what is going wrong with safety and why? And the solution is awareness, reminders and monitoring safety continuously. OSHA recently released a its list of most frequently cited workplace safety violations for 2019.

Here are the top areas of concern when it comes to complacency and poor judgement on the job:

  • Fall Protection – meeting and following the general requirements
  • Hazard Communication – loss or lack of communication with employees working on the warehouse floor
  • Scaffolding – failing to have this properly in place where it is needed.
  • Lockout/Tagout – Equipment still being used even when it has a mechanical issue and needs repairs? A telematic lockout/tag out function should make vehicles inoperable during safety check questions, repairs or maintenance.
  • Respiratory Protection – your facility may have it, but are employees always using it?
  • Ladders – What goes up, will come down. The question is, are these pieces of equipment used properly with a respect for safety?
  • Powered industrial trucks - According to OSHA, there are approximately 85 forklift-related fatalities each year. Your telematics software can help you identify risky behaviors and operators in need of safety reminders or more training.
  • Training requirements - There should be regular refresher training offered and all forklift operators should be certified for the forklift they drive. Training needs should be recognized and should never be postponed because of tight schedules.

The take away

These top offenses contributed a total of 26,915 violations during the 2019 fiscal year - costing employees their lives or health. But, accidents, impacts and injuries are costly  mistakes that are often avoidable. The success of your safety strategy depends on the quality of data you receive from your monitoring software.

Look for a software platform that delivers real-time monitoring to track poor behavior or safety infractions and alerts you to any area where risk is increased.  This insight facilitates proactive risk management - before a costly mistake occurs. 

Topics: psychology of safety, driver training, injuries, distribution center, forklift impacts, operator behavior, forklift operators, lockout/tagout function

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Leading Indicators Can Change Warehouse Safety & Your Business

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Sep 10, 2019 4:00:00 AM

What it the best way to improve safety in your facility? Leading indicators play a big role in preventing worker fatalities, injuries, and illnesses as well as strengthening operational outcomes in the workplace. Your cohesive safety program should leverage leading indicators as a  guide for operational changes in processes, programs, and altering employee behavior to cultivate a safer work environment. puzzle-961800_640-1

OSHA looks at how an enterprise uses this type of information. It defines leading indicators as “proactive and preventive measures that can shed light about the effectiveness of safety and health activities and reveal potential problems in a safety and health program. Indicators that lag behind will signify a lack of effectiveness in the program.”

In other words, leading indicators are like the “canary in the coal mine” because they are often the first sign that a program or process may not be working properly or fully optimized.

Indicators can improve performance across an organization by:

  • Preventing workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Reducing costs associated with incidents.
  • Improving productivity and overall organizational performance.
  • Optimizing safety and health performance.
  • Raising worker participation.

Real-time data driving your leading indicators is crucial.

Being proactive, preventive and predictive is only beneficial if the leading indicator provides timely information that can be effectively turned into action. Conditions that could lead to injuries or fatalities are time-sensitive. So, it’s vital for leading indicators to be driven by real-time monitoring and data. This facilitates detailed information that can be quickly acted upon.

What should your organization be watching for? There is no Holy Grail when developing a list of leading indicators. An enterprise must use its own internal processes and programs as a guide when developing them. For example, if monitoring software provides real-time data on operator behavior, adjustments can be made to target poor behavior or habits that are the root cause of errors and accidents. So, action is taken to fix the issues or behaviors that facilitate problems to arise.

Focus on what supports safety.

By measuring what has a significant impact on safety process in your facility, adjustments within the program can improve efficiencies while reducing risks to employees and the company.

Telematics software puts actionable information for each of your indicators at your fingertips. It identifies what is going wrong on one dashboard, delivering instant insight.

Managers gain quick access to the root cause with one click of the mouse.

For example:

  • Trouble areas are highlighted; successful areas are checked off.
  • More detailed information (the who and the why) is available for each KPI via a pull-down menu.

As the business grows, improvements should look to optimize areas that deliver customer value and address anything that challenges customer satisfaction.

In a nutshell, real-time data should drive your leading indicators allowing managers to take proactive action before issues escalate. This is a lean approach to facility management, and it delivers unprecedented results.

Topics: real-time monitoring, advanced telematics, historic data, customizable dashboard, human error, KPIs, one-screen access, forklift impacts, goals, operator behavior, root cause, forklift operators

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Forklift Monitoring That Tracks Operator Behavior Cuts Warehouse Costs

Posted by Brian Quigley, Director of Client Services on Jul 16, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Improving forklift operator behavior and driving skill is one of the most effective strategies to reduce warehouse costs. Accidents, impacts, and injuries are costly mistakes that are often avoidable. But, the success of this strategy depends on the quality of data you receive from your forklift monitoring software.

Most warehouse or distribution centers depend on skilled operators performing each day at peak capacity and safety. So, monitoring driver habits, their strengths, and weaknesses, can facilitate managerial action to reduce the cost of damage to equipment and inventory and to avoid worker injuries.

Essentially, the right software platform can tell you how to resolve poor driver behavior, determine which operators are underperforming (idle time), and calculate the financial impact of poor maintenance practices.  Watch this video to see how.



Change the future with your data

Ongoing training for all workers reminds everyone of risks. Predictive analytics, using customizable dashboards like CommandPulseDX reporting, means that ongoing training can be customized to fit each operator's specific needs. Managers gain the power to predict and mitigate accidents before they happen. 

Can you really avoid accidents? Yes. Risk is inherent to operating a forklift, but monitoring software is the solution to reducing that risk and the costs associated with careless, avoidable mistakes. With it you can effectively reduce:

1. Speed and reckless action or behavior

Pressure to produce more in limited time, driver complacency, or stress is usually the root cause. Other reasons include poor communication, poor training, or drivers that engage in erratic behavior or horseplay

2. Poor maintenance and safety checklist protocol

Failure to complete safety checklists and servicing/repairs as needed can increase the risk of impacts, damage to inventory, or injuries.  

3. Improper load procedures 

Carrying a load that is too heavy, poorly stacked loads on the pallet, or carrying loads that block vision or are unstable increase operator risk. Inventory can be damaged by forklift impacts and from improper storage, but Advanced Location and TotalTrax’s Geofencing, for example, allow for configured “stop” zones to limit access to certain vehicles that won’t fit into product aisles.  fork-lift-24394_640

Reducing warehouse costs begins by identifying poor behavior or common operator mistakes — essentially, your facility's biggest, costliest risk factors.

This is most easily accomplished with software that delivers real-time monitoring to track poor behavior or safety infractions and facilitates proactive risk management — before a costly mistake occurs. 

Topics: advanced location, injuries, historic data, dangers of forklift operation, routing, KPIs, proactive warehouse management, forklift impacts, employee recognition, operator behavior, telematic data, forklift operators

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How to Reduce Impacts & Improve Forklift Operators' Performance

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Jul 9, 2019 4:00:00 AM

To improve performance, we must acknowledge what’s holding it back. For example, having a creative strategy can reduce forklift impacts in your facility, and fact-based incentives can motivate your team toward its common goal.  motivation-3131641_640

First, you need a strategy. Here are a few facts and some easy solutions to help cultivate a plan for improvement

1. Happy employees are more committed to team goals, productivity and safety.

A Gallup poll found that unhappy employees cost the U.S. economy up to $550 billion each year in lost productivity.

Forklift operators can develop an unhappy mindset, become complacent about the inherent risk of their job, and feel uninspired to do any more than necessary. Why? Let’s face it: Their job is repetitive and often lacks any real incentive to do more or to spark personal inspiration.

The easy solution: Motivation is personal, so it’s important to always tell people why their work matters. Happiness on the job often comes from finding fulfillment and purpose in the work we do because it leads to a common goal. Use facts gathered from telematic operator report cards to provide verbal encouragement. Do it often. Create a fun individual or team competition that will reward the most improved operator performance each week.

2. It’s hard to fix something if you don’t know where to begin.

Changes and performance goals are more easily embraced when workers understand specifically what they need to do to improve performance, the steps to take, and why it’s needed.

The easy solution: When you discuss an employee’s lackluster performance, it should be one on one, without an audience of coworkers. Your critique should be based on facts, not just personal observation. And most importantly, this discussion should provide them with specific steps to take that will improve their performance. Finish this guidance with why it all matters — help them see the big picture and their role in it.

3.  Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it.

There are patterns in the accidents at your facility. Yes, some were caused by human error, but often poor visibility or traffic patterns are creating ideal conditions for accidents. Identifying the root cause and addressing it can be a game changer for safety.

The solution: Forklift monitoring software offers a level of detail that human observation never could. Examine your platform’s historical data and note any similarities you see in accidents, injuries, or near-miss situations. When you do this, patterns will emerge. Let the facts determine the best route for product movement.

It’s not complicated to create a strategy to reduce forklift impacts in your facility and motivate your team to improve their performance. Use facts, balance critiques with praise and direction, and be open to changing any old patterns or behaviors that have negatively impacted success or safety.

Topics: forklift impacts, goals, employee recognition, value driven strategies, operator behavior, operator report card, forklift operators

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