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Warehouse productivity: Here are three ways to right size your fleet

Posted by Phil Van Wormer on Aug 19, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Measuring_TapeThe key measure of warehouse productivity is simple: How many pallets do each of your vehicles move per hour?

But do you know how to increase that rate and right size your fleet in the process?

The majority of warehouse managers in the supply chain, logistics, and materials handling industry have yet to take advantage of one of the most effective tools to drive productivity improvements. Real-time tracking solutions are equipped to collect thousands of data points and translate them into actionable information that you can use to right size your fleet.

Here is how it can be applied:

1. Automated data collection

If your drivers are hand scanning bar codes, they are costing you more money than they should. Hand scanning - although it may take only seconds per pallet - drags down the productivity of your entire fleet. 

Since driver labor accounts for 70 to 80 percent of your Total Cost of Ownership, they should do what they do best – drive. By deploying a real-time tracking solution such as the Sky-Trax System to automatically collect the data, the need for hand scanning is eliminated.

One of our bigger customers freed up $500K, an amount that the company used to spend on manual data collection or 26,000 hand scans a day. When drivers no longer need to collect data, they are able to move more pallets per hour, leaving you with an opportunity to redeploy labor or cut back on the number of vehicles

2. Interleaving

The scanned data gaps, or blind spots, in your warehouse are obstacles to productivity growth. You may know how much time passed between two transactions but without the tools to track the movement of each vehicle, your gut instinct rather than actionable data would have to guide any attempt at improvement. The more information you have, the better.

By knowing the real-time movement of each truck, driver, and load with inch accuracy, you can target a real productivity killer in your facility – the frequency by which your materials handling vehicles travel without a load. If you identify interleaving opportunities for empty inbound vehicles to pick up loads, you may discover you have more vehicles than you really need.

3. Fleet utilization

Based on the activity in your facility, it may appear like your fleet is being used to its fullest extent. Real-time tracking, however, often reveals that is far from the case. Not only do some managers discover they have more trucks than they realized, they also learn the fleet may be operating at only 50 percent of capacity. If you know the precise location of each truck, how long it sits idle, when it is in motion, and how much time it spends active with load, you can use that information to shift trucks around during busy periods or evaluate whether renting makes more sense than owning during peak seasons.

A customer of one of our channel partners, for example, reduced the number of reach trucks from three to two based on information gleaned from real-time tracking solutions.

If you question whether your fleet is being used at capacity, evidence suggests real-time tracking provides fact-based answers. 





Topics: real-time visibility, warehouse productivity, automated data collection, right size, interleaving, fleet utilization