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Lift trucks: Simplifying maintenance

Rawlings revisited lift truck maintenance in its central distribution facility, increasing up-time and efficiency.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
June 20, 2011

Eight years ago, managers realized they had a problem at the central distribution facility for Rawlings, where they managed 40,000 inventory lines of sporting equipment and apparel. As the company had grown, its fleet had been expanded piecemeal, resulting in a hodgepodge of equipment providers and a maintenance department scrambling to keep up.

Mike Campbell, senior director of distribution at the 480,000-square-foot Rawlings distribution center in Washington, Missouri, said the decision was made to contract for outsourced maintenance services. Rawlings partnered with Heubel Material Handling, a member of the Raymond Corporation’s dealer network, to implement Raymond’s consultative approach for providing support.

“Our overall impression is outstanding,” said Campbell. “I would not go on record if I didn’t genuinely appreciate how this has worked out.”

Terrie Semsch, safety manager at the facility, said that before outsourcing maintenance the facility experienced lots of downtime and much less efficiency.

“We went for days sometimes without a mechanic being able to make repairs,” she says. “Now within a few hours we have someone working on it. We have virtually no downtime.”

The company initially outsourced all of its maintenance needs, before settling on a roughly 80/20 split of outsourced to in-house services. The company’s two full-time maintenance personnel now work side-by-side with Heubel technicians to service the facility’s 60-truck fleet. The on-site parts cabinet is stocked and monitored by Heubel, and Rawlings is only billed for parts as they are used.

Since the agreement, Rawlings has also standardized the lift truck equipment in the facility, slimming from eight lift truck suppliers to just two. The move has simplified the efforts of maintenance personnel, who previously had to juggle parts and knowledge of a variety of brands.

“That was the way we lived eight years ago, when utilization was about 65 to 70 percent,” said Campbell. “There were horrible issues with competitors before we transitioned to a contract service agreement. Now our utilization is at about 98 percent.”

Long term lift truck maintenance
Tired of throwing good money after bad, fleet managers are turning to training, technology, and dealer support to better understand when to replace, repair or retire.

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.


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