Right-Sizing the Lift Truck Fleet
Warehouse Fleet Management
Ever wonder whether you have the right types of lift trucks in your fleet? Ever wonder if you have enough MHE (materials handling equipment) in your fleet? Here are a few ways to check to see if you
On most every lift truck there is an hour meter that records the hours that the forklift operates. On some lift trucks, there are multiple hour meters. Hours available can include:
- Deadman hours
- Hours used to measure the total use of the lift truck
- Travel hours
- Hours measuring the use of the drive motor
- Lift hours
- Hours measuring the use of the lift motor
- Key hours
- Hours measuring the time the key is turned to “on”
To use these different hour meters to help measure your operation, at the beginning of any given week or month, find each lift truck and write down the hour meter readings for each truck. To find out how to access the the hour meters, contact your forklift service provider.
Drive motor hours
By measuring and comparing the drive motor hours, you will be able to assess which of your lift truck travels the most. If you have two lift trucks of a similar style and one has a significant difference in the number of hours being logged during a week or a month, you might want to ask:
- Is one lift truck being used more regularly because it is
- more comfortable to use?
- more productive?
- more reliable?
- longer battery life?
- has a more productive driver assigned to it?
With this information, you will be able to ask some informed questions to look deeply into your operation.
Lift motor hours
Looking across your fleet, you might discover there is a different ratio of lift motor hours versus drive motor hours. Why?
What some warehouse managers have discovered is that lift trucks are many times misused due to comfort and preference rather than picking the correct lift truck for the task. At one food distribution company, a curious operations manager performed a survey of lift motor hours and drive motor hours and found that some of his operators were using their lift trucks like pallet jacks. The operators were picking the pallets off the ground by only 9 inches, traveling the length of the facility and dropping the pallet on the floor.
By introducing pallet jacks into the fleet, the operations manager was able to get the same work accomplished with a $12,000 pallet jack in the place of a $35,000 forklift. This lowered the capital required to run the operation. Maintenance costs also went down and operator safety went up.
Another area for discovery is whether all operators are working at the same level of productivity. All travel and no lifting on a forklift intended for lifting might suggest an operator who prefers to drive laps versus moving pallets.
Like an efficient waiter, a lift truck should have a pallet on its forks as much as possible. Deadheading around the warehouse is not ideal. Some lift truck manufacturers are able to identify which lift trucks travel with weight on their forks in online reports through their fleet management systems. Call your manufacturer for more information.
Pallets divided by hours of use
Using deadman hours, you can now look at benchmarking your productivity. By estimating the number of pallets your ship and receive, you can now divide the number of pallets handled by the total number of lift truck deadman hours used in a day, week or month. Using this measurement, you can come to a measurement of pallets moves per hour. Here are some tips to increase the number of pallets moves per hour in your operation.
- Encourage your operators to have a pallet on their forks as much as possible.
- Provide a group incentive for increasing the number of pallets moved per hour.
- Incorporate double jacks, triple jacks and even quadruple jacks to move multiple pallets at once.
What productivity suggestions do you have?
How have you used the hour meters on your lift truck fleet?