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.
In the not so distant past, manufacturers and users of automated materials handling equipment, like conveyors and sorters, focused on the movement of goods through a facility. They wanted to know how quickly a conveyor could move a carton from one point to another or how many cartons an hour a sorter could sort. They called it “speeds and feeds.”
Moving a carton or item as efficiently as possible through a facility is, of course, still critical. But just as important, or maybe even more so, is access to real-time information about the movement of those goods. It’s not enough to know that a carton is on a conveyor; it’s just as important to know where it’s located on the conveyor, when it will get to the next stop in the process, and how long before it’s packaged and on the back of a truck. In short, we’re talking about data-driven warehouses.
While less heralded than the automation information revolution, something similar is happening with lift trucks. Truth be told, lift truck manufacturers discovered the value in harnessing the data coming off their trucks before the automated systems providers. But, the user community was slow to recognize the value in all that data. Not so today. While this is still a market driven by early adopters, end users are beginning to catch on. “We’ve had two straight years of triple-digit growth in the number of customers using telematics data to manage their fleets,” says Steven LaFevers, director of aftermarket solutions for Yale Materials Handling Corp.
Driving that shift, according to LaFevers, is that lift truck users, who once focused on the acquisition and maintenance costs of their fleets, are realizing that the biggest cost of ownership is a result of operator productivity, safety and product damage. No one argues that a decrease in maintenance costs is a positive thing, but “just a 2% increase in productivity, which is just one of the things we monitor, can have a major impact on the bottom line,” he says.
That shift in focus has coincided with better reporting tools that deliver the data being collected from the lift truck in an easily digestible format. “As an industry, we’re figuring out how to harness the data and deliver it to a DC manager in a way that allows them to make fact-based recommendations to process change that is not disruptive to their organizations,” says John Rosenberger, manager of the iWarehouse Gateway and Global Telematics for Raymond.
Read full article in MMH.com here.