Lift Truck Issue: Data drives smarter operations

In Modern's 6th-annual Lift Truck Issue, we take a look at tying lift truck-driven data into operations, how to choose the right truck for the job, the Top 20 lift truck suppliers, TMS and more.

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We’re proud to offer Modern readers the 6th installment of our “Annual Lift Truck Issue,” an edition where we fix the spotlight on what we call the backbone, the workhorse, the most fundamental piece of equipment in any materials handling operation.

Back when we produced the first issue, it was clear the U.S. economy was just easing out of recession, and fleet managers, who had taken their lift truck operations for granted for far too long, were short on budget and literally running their equipment into the ground. We knew that practice had to stop and wanted to promote the benefits of a more enlightened approach to lift truck management.

So, over the years we’ve used this issue to give warehouse and DC professionals a comprehensive snapshot of the current lift truck market, track where the market stands in the technological continuum, illustrate the evolution of truck usage, and see how suppliers are keeping pace with the needs of evolving, data-hungry operations. And quite frankly, I think we’ve met those needs once again.

Starting on page 18, executive editor Bob Trebilcock sets the table with a look at where we stand in terms of tying lift truck-generated data into our overall operations. It’s certainly clear that manufacturers and distributors have been doing a better job of using data from their supply chain software and automated systems to streamline facilities—but now they’re convinced that integrating lift truck data represents the next big step.

In fact, Trebilcock contends that this need to better connect trucks has triggered an information revolution along the lines of what the automated systems providers have been experiencing. “Truth be told, lift truck manufacturers discovered the value in harnessing the data coming off their trucks before the automated systems providers,” says Trebilcock. “However, users were slow to recognize the value. Not so today.”

According to Trebilcock, the evolution of lift truck technology has allowed fleet managers to realize that the information being captured by those trucks is becoming as important—if not more important—than the functions and processes managed by that equipment. “Lift trucks used to be a replacement for raw manual labor,” he says. “Now, they’re part of the information flow.”

And while the analytics flowing from dashboards, tires and forks is improving utilization and identifying best practices of high performers, senior editor Josh Bond shows that data is now even making it possible to accurately predict whether a given lift truck model will underperform, overperform or be just right for a particular facility.

“If you crunch the analytics on maintenance, utilization, productivity and total cost of equipment, you get a clearer picture of a lift truck’s fitness for any given task,” says Bond, who sets out to help users get the right truck for the job on page 58. “As we collect more data and get better at interpreting it, the art of pairing tool and task is becoming a well-honed science.”

This thoughtful analysis is leading to better ways to approach the composition of any fleet, be it purchased, leased, mid-range or at the “low cost of acquisition” end of the market. “Today, insightful management is helping the ‘old workhorse’ become an even more integral part of an organization’s operation—and even helping to contribute to the bottom line.”

The 2016 Lift Truck Issue
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive their facilities, they’re turning to the next opportunity for improvement: the wealth of data collected by their lift trucks.

Top 20 Lift Truck Suppliers 2016
Unit sales continue to climb and revenue is inching upward in this year’s annual look at the top lift truck suppliers. Top Lift Truck Companies 2016, best of lift trucks 2016, 2016 lift truck survey, Top forklift suppliers, fork lift user survey 2016

Smooth out the inbound with TMS
With more orders, more products and tight expectations from customers, efficient, accurate inbound logistics paves the way for effective order fulfillment. TMS solutions can smooth inbound processes through a combination of visibility/execution features and fuller use of optimization algorithms to pick the best inbound routes and carriers. Benefits of Transportation Management Systems

Get the Right Lift Truck for the Job
A growing number of low-cost lift trucks offer new avenues for pairing equipment and applications, but less cautious buyers might find that small up-front costs come at a steep price. Selecting the proper lift truck, lift truck tips 2016, Choosing the right Lift Truck

Lift Truck Survey Reveals Positive Growth
Latest survey explores companies’ lift truck buying, leasing, maintenance and disposal trends. 

60 Seconds with: James J. Radous III, UniCarriers Americas Corp.
Modern spends 60 seconds talking to the president of UniCarriers Americas Corp. and chair of National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD) about National Forklift Safety Day.

About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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Article Topics

August 2016 · Lift Trucks · · All Topics
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