Five Things that Will Lower Your Overall Material Handling Costs

Reducing your costs means increasing your profits—and increasing your profits has never been more challenging than in recent years.  Our experience with hundreds of various types of operations, utilizing hundreds of pieces of equipment in more than a thousand ways, has exposed us to thousands of variations in facilities, equipment, and applications. In working with these diverse clients, we have recognized commonalities that, when implemented, resulted in lower total operating costs for materials handling most of the time. Following are five that we highly recommend:

Choose Application-Specific Equipment – In other words, “buy the right equipment for the job at hand.” We often see equipment being used in applications for which they were not designed. That results in accelerated wear, increased damage and ultimately, increased costs. Working with professionals who can survey your applications and recommend the right equipment for each job is one of the most important things you can do to decrease overall costs.  Using the proper equipment with the right specifications means efficient, productive results.

Planned Maintenance – Your fleet equipment works hard. And hard-working equipment needs proper maintenance.  Working with a professional and reputable fleet service provider that services your equipment at appropriate intervals is the key to catching small maintenance issues, before they become larger and much more expensive. In addition, well-maintained equipment operates more efficiently, experiences more up-time and results in improved operator morale.

Invest in a Robust Training ProgramOperator safety training is required by OSHA, and a daily inspection of equipment is one of OSHA’s requirements. Most companies train their operators regarding safe operation—but more often than not, the training stops there. Clients that invest in training employees to perform daily inspections, and to know what to look for, see results. If you install a process for equipment that will eventually need repair, you can ensure that unsafe equipment stays off the operating floor, and small repairs can be handled before they blossom into colossal nightmares.

Work With Single-Source Dealerships When Possible – The more work you can assign to a qualified and reliable supplier, the fewer calls you have to make. In turn, the supplier becomes more familiar with your equipment, facility and applications. Using one company that can provide a turnkey operation, from engineering to installation and maintenance, allows you to make just one call when it is needed. This leads to greater efficiencies for you. It also allows your supplier to better understand your operation and thus make logical suggestions that can reduce your costs, increase your efficiency and productivity, and ultimately improve your bottom line.

Fleet Management – Whether you do it yourself or assign responsibility to your materials handling partner, fleet management is a key part of knowing the useful economic lifespan of your equipment. And economic lifespan may vary by application within your operation. If you keep a finger on the pulse of your maintenance expenses and know when it’s time to trade in or re-lease, that process will more than pay for itself in the long run.

There are hundreds of other things you can do to minimize the total operating costs of your facility. We have addressed some of them in previous feature articles. We hope that you have found these Top Five useful.  If we can assist you further, or provide you with more information, please contact us at 877-303-LIFT.

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Five Things Your Forklift Might Tell You….if it Could Talk

Talking ForkliftEach day, your forklift bears the brunt of your material handling operation. It works hard for you day after day, rarely complaining about the workload or its surroundings. Occasionally it tells you something is wrong, by breaking down. But waiting for a breakdown is expensive. Repairs are more costly once a breakdown occurs and breakdowns can create dangerous situations at your facility. Have you ever wondered what a forklift might tell you, if it could talk? We did, and came up with the following:

  1. “I’m not getting inspected frequently enough.”  Although OSHA requires pre-shift inspections, few companies require them. Pre-shift inspections ensure that if I get sick, you catch it quickly, before it becomes a dangerous and costly situation. You can find forms to help my operators inspect me on All Lift’s forklift safety page.
  2. “I think my operators need more training.” They jerk me from forward to reverse, to forward again, putting a strain on my transmission. They don’t slow down at intersections or use my safety features as frequently as they should. My horn is rarely used, I don’t have any strobe lights and I’m afraid I might end up in an accident. I don’t want to get hurt and I sure don’t want to hurt anyone else. I think we need some additional operator training.
  3. “My co-workers need more attention.” You put all of us on the same service cycles. The other guys work harder, lift more weight, more frequently and need to be seen by your forklift service pros more often. Give them a call.
  4. “My feet hurt.” These tires are old, they have chunks missing, they’re worn and at the end of the day, I can’t wait to stop and give them a break. Worn and damaged tires use more fuel, make my operator more fatigued and create a dangerous work environment. When’s the last time you inspected my tires carefully?
  5. “I’m shocked at how my electric friends are being treated.” I run on gas, but my electric friends are always complaining about their batteries, that the water levels aren’t inspected enough and they get hot all too often. They also complain about how they get charged at weird times and it doesn’t feel good. Maybe you should talk to their operators about how they use their electric forklifts. I’m told batteries are really expensive and making them last as long as possible is best for everyone.

Have you ever wondered what else your forklifts might tell you, if they could talk? Our team of service professionals can share their experience with you to determine the best plan to keep all your forklifts operating at peak efficiency and productivity. Happy and healthy forklifts are more productive and safer for those on them, and around them. Contact Us to speak to a service professional today. Next time you talk to your forklift, you’ll get nothing but “thank you’s” and compliments!

3 Tips to Optimize Your Forklift Fleet Maintenance

There is no doubt that companies that engage in robust and comprehensive forklift fleet maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets.

Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Following are three tips we suggest in order to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.

Fleet Analysis

We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.

Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.

Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.

Daily Inspections

Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that most companies do not perform pre-shift inspections.  And we can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a call from a customer who has had to lock out a unit as a result of a pre-shift inspection because the unit is not fit for operation.

Pre-shift inspections will results in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios.  Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.

Partner Selection

Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:

  • Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
  • Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
  • Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
  • References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
  • Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.

Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. To discuss your service program with our trained staff of service professionals, please contact us, or call us at 877-303-LIFT.