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Productivity boost

29 September 2014

Toyota says you can find out your optimum fleet size and how to best use your forklifts using its I_Site software.

Running a safe, efficient and cost effective materials handling operation is no easy task. It requires continual analysis and decision-making to control a whole variety of different costs and operational factors.

With this in mind, any fleet operator must consider the following when working with any material handling equipment supplier:

• How can I maximise my equipment utilisation?
• What is my optimum fleet size?

• How can I reduce damage (out of contract) costs?
• How do I control access to my equipment?
• How do I ensure my fleet is serviced periodically?
• And which drivers need additional training?

A fleet management system can help you to increase productivity, reduce cost, improve health & safety and reduce impact on the environment, by giving you access to the information that can help you answer these questions and help you to make decisions to improve your efficiency. From a simple access system or shock sensor on one truck to a multi-site operation, fleet management solutions can help you to improve safety and productivity and cut cost.

But how does it work?  

At Toyota we have developed a fleet management system called Toyota I_Site. Toyota I_Site is a great tool for managers to understand vehicle status, driver performance and overall productivity in their materials handling operation. Trucks can be equipped with GPS transmitters to record information. In addition shock sensors can also be fitted to allow impacts to be recorded. The data from the truck is then transmitted to a web portal that requires no software installation. The web portal is customisable and accessible via a protected login from any computer or handheld device. The user-friendly website dashboard offers a real-time overview of the operation. Customers can choose and customise the indicators that are important to their operation; meanwhile, all the background data collected from the trucks and from the Toyota service team is always just one click away.

Toyota has continued to innovate and recently added two new features to the system: pre operation checks and Smart Access.

Pre-operation checks help fleet managers to make sure that trucks are reliable and safe to use every day.  Companies can create their own checklist, via the web portal, which drivers must confirm on the display before they start to operate the truck. The truck will remain immobile until all the checks have been completed and the driver has confirmed the truck is safe to use. This system can help companies to ensure they are satisfying their own internal rules and regulations and increase safety as trucks that have a critical failure cannot be used.  

Smart Access also helps fleet managers to improve safety on-site. The intelligent card reader ensures that only authorised and trained drivers can access trucks, plus it provides utilisation information show which drivers have used which trucks and when. The smart access cards are compatible with most employee cards and can also be retrofitted to most makes of forklifts trucks, making it easily accessible to most companies.

But fleet management is about more than just having a system. A good fleet management service should combine three important elements; technology, information and support. The benefits relating to productivity and costs can only be gained by responding to the information you collect.

At Toyota we work closely with our customers to help them make sense of the information and support and advise them on how to make improvements. The value of Kaizen or continuous improvement is a cornerstone of the Toyota organisation and central to the fleet management process we use to work with our customers to achieve results.

We establish benchmarks or objectives collect the performance data and use that data to identify any problem areas. We then discuss the information with our customers in order to implement an action plan; this may be a change to how trucks are used or additional operator training. Using the tool of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act), we then monitor the operation, collect more data to measure performance to see if there have been any improvements and the cycle continues.

The productivity and efficiency of any operation is affected by the trucks, the operators and the operation, and so any changes in these areas, for example a new operator or layout to the operation, can have an impact. This is why a continuous improvement process and ongoing advice is important.