Lift Truck Tips: Read the data, then act

Fleet management reveals sometimes startling realities in companies of all sizes.

By ·

It’s easy to think of fleet management as something that should only concern companies with dozens of lift trucks at DCs across the country. But according to Jim Gaskell, director of Global Insite Products for Crown, that’s just not true.

“Even if you have one truck, everybody benefits from fleet management,” says Gaskell. “The guy with a few trucks has a small problem, and the guy with a lot of trucks has a bigger problem.”

At a basic level, fleet management involves using data to modify operational and purchasing practices with an eye toward flexibility and efficiency. However, there’s a difference between reading data and acting on the data, says Gaskell.

“It’s two different skill sets,” he says. “You either read data or you use it to change the architecture of an operation accordingly.”

But for companies without detailed fleet management practices in place, simply reading the data can be enough to inspire significant changes. Even the most general utilization analysis can reveal stark differences between gut feelings and reality.

“I tell my customers, ‘Don’t be shocked if you find you are only using your trucks about 30% to 40% of the time,’” says Gaskell. “And they say, ‘What do you mean? We don’t have enough trucks!’ Before they had the knowledge, they didn’t know they had the problem.”

With data in hand, what decisions come next? Fleet reductions or expansions? Is it possible to make labor more efficient? Are three shifts really necessary? Some simple changes can yield returns in utilization figures, says Gaskell, from 40% to 50%, for instance.

“The design of the warehouse or the user’s business dynamics might create a ceiling that limits the customer from reaching a work cycle beyond 50%,” he says. “And, that’s okay as long as you’ve optimized the utilization of your fleet given these circumstances.”

Some of the most difficult changes have nothing to do with numbers. “People say, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it,’ or ‘Our goal is this or that,’” says Gaskell. “I tell them to make a list of all these examples of traditional thinking and then title it ‘Stinking Thinking.’ Then ask yourself, after reviewing the data, whether you really want to keep thinking this way.”

No piece of technology can help a company cross that bridge, says Gaskell, but the first step is to create an environment where constant change is expected.

“That’s when you start the raindrop that starts the wave that changes the organization,” he adds.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior 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.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Sorting Out Your Sortation Options
Guiding you through the process of evaluating and selecting the right “mission-critical” sortation solution
Download Today!
From the April 2017 Issue
How does a fastgrowing, e-commerce startup company build out order fulfillment capabilities? Thrive Market answered that question with its new facility in Indiana.
2017 Warehouse/DC Equipment Survey: Investment up as service pressures rise
Putaway 101: Everything in its Place
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
ProMat closes: Make your plans for Modex 2018
With a record number of exhibitors and attendees seen at ProMat 2017, MHI anticipates more of the...
Keynote: Magic is the result of over-preparation and over-delivering to customers
During his keynote presentation Wednesday afternoon, Earvin “Magic” Johnson told a packed...

Keynote panel confirms digital supply chain shift seen in new MHI study
Wednesday’s keynote panelists agreed it is time to embrace the shift to digital supply chains seen...
MHI to honor original products, solutions with 5th-annual Innovation Awards
On Wednesday, during MHI Industry Night with Dana Carvey, the winners of the 5th-annual MHI...