Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

What You Need to Know to Improve Forklift Routing

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Nov 15, 2018 4:00:00 AM

Routing forklifts through congested areas of a warehouse or too close to pedestrians increases the risk of accidents and injuries, and it can significantly slow down productivity. It can be a daunting task, but making changes to improve forklift routing will increase the ease and speed of inventory movement in your facility. stopwatch-259375_1280

Forklift travel time within a warehouse typically has a significant impact on throughput time. Warehouses are under constant pressure to reduce travel time, idle time caused by high traffic or congested aisles, and time lost to impacts or injuries.

Many facilities have turned to vehicle monitoring software to provide real-time information that guides their routing strategies and historical data to identify and avoid previous routing mistakes.

Improve routing based on facts

Telematic Advanced Location delivers information you can use to identify better warehouse traffic patterns. This, in turn, avoids delays due to pedestrians — or, even worse, pedestrian injuries — and facilitates a more productive work schedule for all operators.

Here is what to look at to improve forklift routing:

  • Paths of least resistance

Identifying the most common forklift routing challenges in your facility and determining how to avoid them is the first step. Your telematic system should use Wi-Fi to locate the precise location of inventory and every fleet vehicle on the floor. This allows you to predict traffic and operator behavior before issues occur and choose the path of least resistant.

  • A pattern of problems

Your telematic data should contain history of past incidents that have brought traffic to a halt, such as near misses, impacts, and pedestrian injuries caused by forklift traffic. It is important to use configurable historical mapping of events — perhaps, events are always happening at a specific location — to revise your current routing plans.

For example, some aisle or areas may be prone to accidents due to visual limitations or corners. Smart routing changes require you to identify and avoid the areas that seem to cause incidents, accidents, and delays.

  • Excessive idle time

When forklifts must wait for a path to clear of other traffic, it slows down productivity, increases fuel use, and wastes battery life. Real-time monitoring can identify what has brought traffic to a halt and how to avoid it.

Revisit forklift routing plans regularly

Remember that the best routing plan for today may not be the optimum path to take a few weeks from now. As inventory or orders change, forklift traffic may need to be revised.

The efficiency of a forklift routing plan can be affected by everything from aisle width to foot traffic. More than ever, real-time technology is an essential tool to identify problems so you can improve forklift routing and, in turn, improve speed, efficiency, and safety.

Topics: forklift operators, limit risks, value driven strategies, time management, routing, forklift drivers, advanced location, distribution center, fleet right-sizing, inventory tracking

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