Fleet optimization software streamlines process for manufacturer

Casebook 2012: Furniture manufacturer rearranges lift truck fleet to boost utilization and remove dead weight.

By ·

Steelcase, a leading global office furniture manufacturer based in Grand Rapids, Mich., recently completed a series of acquisitions and found itself with a number of new manufacturing and distribution centers.  As the company worked to consolidate those new facilities, it quickly became a massive challenge to keep track of the inherited lift truck fleets as they were redistributed.

A fleet optimization system allowed the company to manage multiple fleets without deciphering mounds of data.

“As a result of the acquisitions and consolidations, the view I had of my forklift fleets became quite cloudy,” says Steelcase logistics manager Dennis Carlson. “It wasn’t long before I realized that I needed to take steps to ensure I maintained a clear understanding of the number of trucks in my fleet, the conditions of those trucks, and most importantly, utilization rates.”

Steelcase tested the fleet optimization system during a six-month period on 25 trucks at a single facility. Carlson was so pleased with how easily the system integrated into his operations that he quickly deployed the solution in five more facilities.

“The most valuable benefit was that it gave me real data to help me understand exactly what we were doing with our forklifts,” says Carlson. “The system gave me more than just power usage data. The data showed that in many cases utilization was sporadic.”

Carlson leveraged his findings to drive an organizational focus toward maximizing the use of the company’s existing fleet. He also used the information to support recommendations on how Steelcase could change some of the processes in the facilities to help ensure the trucks were working all day.

After implementing these recommendations, Carlson has significantly improved utilization rates while reducing the size of his fleet by 30% to 40%.

Crown Equipment Corp.
419-629-2311
http://www.crown.com

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About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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