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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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

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Warehouse Productivity Can Meet Demands for Expedited Deliveries

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Oct 17, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Demands for expedited delivery of consumer products continues to grow. Can your facility keep up with increased expectations for faster delivery? It can, if it has the right tools to develop a faster delivery strategy. customer-focus-1

If you think you don't need to offer faster delivery options, here are a few facts to consider. Across the United States, about half of all retailers have stepped up their game to offer same-day delivery options to their customers. They simply had to evolve to remain competitive in today’s marketplace where a growing number of consumers have come to expect these faster delivery options.

This is a very clear evolution regarding how product makes it into consumers’ hands. Two years ago only 23% of consumers were willing to pay more for same-day delivery. Today, a 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey found that 88% of consumers are willing to pay more and will expect that option to be available when they buy.

If your facility can consistently execute faster delivery times to your customers, it has a ripple effect on your business. Giving customers the service and delivery options they have come to expect creates brand loyalty and a positive consumer experience. And this impacts your business.

Here’s a few warehouse essentials that help facilitate faster delivery.

1. Inventory must move quickly & smoothly through the warehouse.

This requires better planning and smarter use of space in your facility, dedicated people to move product quickly and accurately, and the right technology to monitor it.

The solution for many warehouse and distribution centers is to take control of all moving parts with  a cloud-based telematics platform that adapts and evolves with the business. Leveraging this superior level of insight facilitates smoother daily operations and fewer growing pains as demands increase.

2. Superior layout & tracking should occur with ease.

Your software platform should proficiently monitor inventory and provide insight for optimum layout of aisles and storage areas. It should also monitor traffic coming in, out and around the warehouse as it helps to track and manage both incoming and outgoing cargo and transportation.

3. Teamwork is essential to meet delivery expectations.

Telematic monitoring across your enterprise allows everyone to work together to balance speed and accuracy. Managers should be able to pinpoint the exact location of product, all the steps in order fulfillment and where challenges are about to occur. Preventative action is part of multi-tasking skills.

4. Shipping should be simplified as much as possible.

Your tracking software should offer easy to use warehouse parcel shipping assistance, like package tracking and route management options, which facilitate expedited, secure and the most affordable delivery options.

In order to survive (and thrive) in today’s marketplace, your warehouse facility needs to be able to respond to the increased customer demands for fast, accurate delivery of the products they buy. With the right people, processes and technology, warehouse managers can leverage all assets to increase productivity and expedite delivery to meet these increased demands.

 

Topics: advanced location, routing, one-screen access, teamwork, expanding business, goals, value driven strategies, safety versus productivity

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Inventory Tracking & Visibility for Agricultural Businesses

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

FDA and industry-related regulatory compliance overseen by OSHA can be challenging without a strategy that ensures tracking and visibility as product moves along your supply chain. But, supply chains in the agribusiness can present uniquely difficult challenges and costly to manage if you rely on old methods of management.  combine-harvester-4507757_640

Visibility of product from raw materials in the field to finished goods on the store shelf is critical in order to meet strict guidelines set by the FDA. Knowing where product is at all times is probably a key requirement, so track and trace is crucial to insure the environmental conditions for consumer safety and product integrity remain in place and transparency is maintained.

So, leveraging a telematic solution – one that has proven experience and success in agribusiness – can be instrumental in designing and deploying a platform that works to meet your very specific needs.

For example, integration of TotalTrax products can provide real time, accurate and cost-effective visibility information. Monitoring systems can deliver this by tracking bulk containers, pallets, bags or cases of product, and consequently tracking the lot, batch and date codes of their contents.

The simple solution to ensure transparency is found in a telematic platform that:

  • Reduces costs
  • Increases the performance of the food supply chain operations
  • Reduces the risk of product mixing errors while in transit.
  • Reduces cycle time and increases freshness of product and shelf-time.
  • Improves brand value and inventory accuracy
  • Creates error-proof processing
  • Includes cloud hosting services, combined with a cellular connectivity option for faster deployment.

How Telematics works to cut agricultural visibility costs

Poor performance from an old management system is not your fault. Failing to recognize this and make changes is:  Here is what can be gained:

  1. Error Proofing: Error proofing material movement and material identification processes which eliminates errors as they are about to occur.
  2. Inventory Accuracy:  Visibility improves inventory accuracy and system data integrity, but it is only as good at the data it harnesses. Telematic inventory management systems enabling warehouse managers to trust the data and make decisions which help them improve the performance of their supply chain.
  3. Location Visibility: Location visibility is critical when managing seasonal swings and tight control over material ID and batch information. TotalTrax solutions can be tailored to provide inventory location data, eliminating search time and improving material movement efficiency at both the plant and warehouse level.
  4. Increases to profitability: Most businesses realize a profitability increase of 20 to 50 percent after implementing a telematic inventory-tracking system.  Reducing time lost to searching for inventory saves money and frustration, but it also it further protects a business by ensuring regulatory compliance, avoiding fines and preventing the challenges of spoiled or damaged product.

The TotalTrax solution provides real time updates of data that can be used to make dynamic and proactive decisions based upon accurate data collected in real-time. It also offers flexible and expandable enhanced data management, reporting and analysis tools that can be expanded and customized to fit your business as it grows.

Topics: advanced location, inventory tracking, loss avoidance, osha inspection, value driven strategies, waste stream reduction, telematic data

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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

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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

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