How can companies get the most from their forklift fleet? Paul Sercombe, Sales Director of Transmon Engineering Ltd offers 10 tips to help Managers get the most from their fleet management system.
Fleet management systems help Managers to analyse and monitor forklift truck usage and driver activity. Systems are fitted directly to individual forklift trucks to log specific data during each shift, such as the truck's operational hours and movements or any impact that occurs. The data can then be retrieved for analysis from which informed decisions can be made, but how can a company make the most of it?
1. Set clear objectives
From the outset, it is important to be clear about what data is important to record and how it can add value to the operation. A fleet management system will record the data and provide reports, but how will the management use the reports to improve the operation? Define exactly what the objectives are and who will manage and implement changes, seek assistance if it is not clear.
2. Define what data should be captured now, and in the future
Through defining the objectives it should be clear what data needs to be logged but select a system that can grow as the business grows. For example, Transmon's TDS1 can be configured to log a range of data such as faults, incidents/crashes, driver and truck identity, utilisation/idle time, servicing and availability for a significant quantity of trucks
3. Chose a suitable data capture method
Smaller operations may prefer to manually capture the data from each truck through a Serial/USB device such as Transmon's 'Cyber Key'.
For larger fleets or time-sensitive operations it can be more beneficial to “go wireless” and automatically capture the data with the TDS1 rather than track down individual trucks around a site.
4. Check the software is easy to use and generates useful reports
When the data is downloaded onto a laptop or PC, a variety of reports can be produced from which the Manager can study and analyse. Ensure that the software is easy to use, fully supported throughout the contract life of the truck fleet and generates easy to understand reports. Check that the software is free and unlicenced and works across a network. Most companies prefer systems that work on a web browser.
5. Analyse, then manage
Reports will identify trends and KPIs helpful for both internal meetings and discussions with the materials handling equipment provider. The reports will provide crucial information from which informed decisions can be made about the fleet in order to make changes and improvements. This is where effective fleet management will succeed or fail because it relies on pro-active management and planning.
6. Optimise fleet utilisation and minimise expenditure
One of the aims of an effective fleet management system is to reduce additional and unnecessary charges. The overall cost of the materials handling operation can be lowered by recording the number of hours a truck is left running and comparing it against the number of hours it is actually used. Through statistical analysis, a company can use Transmon fleet management data to redeploy equipment and plan more effectively. The purpose is to maximise the usage of each truck without exceeding contracted hours.
7. Don't be Idle
Make sure that a truck is not left on when not in use. The TDS1 can be programmed to cut power to the truck after a specified period of idle time or when it has clocked up its contracted number of hours, with the option of allowing a one hour grace period. This could result in a large saving for the company as well as reducing each truck's carbon footprint.
8. Manage operators as well as equipment
Use the fleet management system to help manage the staff. With the TDS1, access to the truck ignition is granted only with a swipe card, key-fob or PIN code, which is individually programmed so each driver can only operate the equipment he/she is currently qualified to operate. The system logs exactly which operator has used which truck for each shift and makes drivers accountable for any damage caused through impact. By managing this effectively, it helps drivers to be more conscientious and careful in their work and reduces damage. Driver re-training dates can also be programmed into the TDS1 denying access unless training records are up to date.
9. Sustain levels of onsite safety throughout the contract life
Controlled access is not only about driver accountability, it also plays a role in onsite safety for drivers and other workers. Ensure drivers perform daily safety checks by disabling truck ignition (after an allocated time period) until he/she has indicated that all the checks (oil, brakes etc) have been carried out.
10. Check installation and support details
How long does it take to install the system, will it cause disruption and is it fully supported? For example, the TDS1 fleet management system can be fitted to any truck with a basic system taking just 2 hours to install with full onsite software training and support over the contract period.
Transmon Engineering Ltd offers customers a total solution to optimise fleets, monitor truck and operator utilisation and minimise costs. Further information available at www.transmon.co.uk