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Managing forklifts better: highlights from IMHX

12 April 2013

Companies operating forklift fleets look to management tools to help increase productivity, save money and boost safety.

In an increasingly competitive business environment, fleet management tools can help to make a key difference in UK warehouses and distribution centres.

The recent IMHX show demonstrated many of the forklift fleet management tools on the market and they illustrate how managers can improve operations.

Cutting cost
Finding ways to save money (without compromising productivity) is a key priority as businesses look to find every bit of advantage they can. One of the fleet management tools on show at IMHX - InfoLink from Crown aims to turn real-time and historic data into organised, prioritised and actionable information. Armed with this information, managers can take action to cut costs.

The system connects with your WMS and gives insight into operator performance; as well as knowing what the operator is doing with the truck and how the forklift is performing, operator movements and picking operations can also be monitored.

Recent innovations of the cloud-based system include battery management, which seeks to make a fleet’s energy profile transparent. For example, the system uncovers the energy consumption and energy costs by analysing battery discharge levels and charging cycles.

It also indicates whether batteries are being charged more often than required, helping fleet managers avoid unnecessary charging cycles and significantly improving battery life. The resulting cost savings can be substantial, especially when projected over time for an entire fleet.

The system is designed to be easy to use, and uses colour coding to draw attention to the most pressing matters. This interface means fleet managers can monitor fleet performance across multiple sites at a glance.

They no longer need to pore over analytical reports, although they can call up in-depth reports whenever they need to. They can also tailor each report according to their individual preferences, by including relevant performance indicators, multiple sites and specific time periods.

InfoLink also has a maintenance function. Managers see which trucks are being serviced, can call up detailed information on the reason for and duration of downtime etc.

Increasing productivity
As part of its move to make IMHX a place to do business, Toyota illustrated the productivity benefits of its I_Site system at IMHX. Toyota I_Site is a combination of technology, information, expertise and support that helps you manage your materials handling fleet.

It is built around detailed reporting of truck activity and cost data, supported by advice from Toyota I_Site experts. This enables companies to substantially drive down cost. Key features include: machine access and activity, driver activity, machine shock sensors, machine lockout, battery info, service database and data collecting – all accessible from a dedicated Toyota I_Site web portal.

As part of some Toyota I_Site contracts, Toyota can provide a dedicated Toyota I_Site specialist who can offer a broad range of assistance including the provision of operator training for drivers to improve driving behaviour and reduce damage, to adapting critical points in the workflow to improve efficiency, and even changing the fleet by increasing or reducing the number of trucks.

With Toyota I_Site, businesses can identify and address operational issues on a daily basis, while also looking at broader issues – such as fleet optimisation – from a more long-term, strategic point of view.

Boosting safety
A key concern of fleet managers is the safety of operators. The ISM Online fleet management system from Jungheinrich has a Safety module consisting of features such as access control, driver administration and shock data acquisition, allowing the user to focus on damage issues individually as opposed to globally for the fleet.

Employing the Safety module sensitises drivers to how they are treating their trucks. This means not only enhanced safety in the warehouse, but also lower costs incurred from inappropriate handling of vehicles.

The system is capable of managing, analysing and optimising industrial truck fleets, irrespective of their size or complexity.

ISM Online consists of an innovative fleet management system from Jungheinrich which puts customers in a position to monitor, manage and enhance the warehouse safety of their fleets over multiple locations and countries. The user accesses the relevant data via a protected Jungheinrich management portal.

ISM Online consists of modules which are geared to the various users’ specific needs. The Base module provides the user with a multi-site overview of all the master data on his trucks, along with the relevant contracts and equipment features. Apart from the number and age of the trucks for each site, this module reveals the cost of the entire fleet at the push of a button.

The ISM Online fleet management system is constantly being refined based on client input and allows for a detailed presentation of costs. The user can also call up information on invoices, deployment hours and service reports as well as detailed reporting of the overall costs per vehicle.