Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

How to remove roadblocks to improving warehouse productivity

Posted by Brian Quigley, Director of Client Services on May 31, 2016 12:00:00 AM

heavy-934552_1280.jpgThey are warehouse productivity killers, yet surprisingly common in many operations.

Beware of letting these practices drag down the performance of your entire operation. With the right tools at your disposal – real-time tracking of labor, inventory, and forklifts – they are easily eliminated.

Inefficient slotting

Excess travel time equal productivity loss. If your fleet is traveling longer than needed to pick up and drop off pallets, they are doing so at the price of productivity. But slotting optimization cannot be accomplished by guesswork. You need real-time tracking to let facts determine the best route for product movement. With a fact-based image of low and high-traffic areas in your warehouse, you can seize the opportunity to reslot the facility

Hand scanning

It may only take seconds to hand scan a pallet label but multiplied by several thousand labels, hand scanning is incredibly time consuming. By eliminating this laborious task, you drivers become more productive. With the help of an optical label reader mounted between the lift truck masts, pallet labels are automatically scanned and their location updated in real time. Users tend to see productivity improvements of 25 to 30 percent as your fleet starts moving more pallets, leaving you with an opportunity to redeploy labor or cut back on the number of vehicles. 

Inventory disorder

Inventory disorder goes hand in hand with manual data collection. Employees tasked with reporting where they have picked up and dropped specific pallets make mistakes. If the errors abound, you’ve got chaos on your hands. Many managers find themselves spending a disproportionate amount of time searching for lost or misplaced pallets. Disorder is not only frustrating, it’s also results in productivity loss. Optical position markers on the ceiling combined with high-precision cameras on each vehicle will help you track the location of vehicles and pallets by the sub inch – essentially linking forklift movement with data on the pallets. The result is 100 percent inventory accuracy, leaving you to do something more productive than chasing pallets.

Visibility gaps

The lack of real-time visibility is the bane of many warehouse operations. You cannot possibly drive improvement without knowing your baseline or being able to identify where change is needed. By removing the blind spots in your warehouse you gain instant insight into fleet movement, driver activity, and vehicle utilization. When you know the number of pallets each driver moves per hour, how much time they spend idle or active with load, the utilization of each vehicle, and the flow of pallets throughout the warehouse, you can begin to take action. You may even be surprised to discover how little time your fleet spends active with load.

Forklift repairs

A Band-Aid approach to fleet maintenance is bound to be costly. A single forklift is associated with 40 separate costs. If you can’t track the maintenance of your vehicle, you leave your fleet vulnerable to costly repairs. The lack of maintenance tracking alone increases the risk of vehicles being sidelined – and downtime is one of the biggest productivity killers in the warehouse. The solution? Technology that allows you take a proactive approach to fleet maintenance, notifying you well ahead of time whether tires need changing or a battery is nearing the end of its lifecycle.

Invite real-time solutions into your warehouse. The payoff is spelled productivity.

Topics: smart trucks, warehouse productivity, SmartLIFT, warehouse technology

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