With several years of practice under its belt, the lift truck community has settled on some general best practices for the adoption and refinement of fleet management technologies. All the same, the process remains a deeply unique one for each fleet, requiring an integration of technology and culture. Collin Rush, general manager of InfoLink customer support forCrown Equipment, recommends approaching the challenge incrementally, but holistically.
“My advice to someone on their first day with fleet management is that they really need to think about best practices and start small with things like access control, compliance and inspection checklists,” Rush says. “To be successful, you have to have standard operating procedures in place and make sure managers enforce them.”
Rush encounters customers at all stages of thetelematicsjourney. At the introductory level, customers tend to pursue data around a specific application and look for what an out-of-the-box package can provide. As they work to get more out of it, they look at analytics. Many don’t have business intelligence tools in-house, so they lean on their dealer. Then, more sophisticated large retailers just need the data and will do their own analytics. A fourth category consists of customers who don’t want to manage forklifts at all.
Crown offers an optional program that can benefit customers at all stages. A pre-go-live meeting introduces them to best practices to ensure they hit the ground running when they flip the switch. This is the time to upload operator credentials and set rules like the response to forklift impacts of various severity. A post-go-live meeting includes a system check and any coaching needed to get back on track, followed by a 90-day business review.
“Ninety percent are focused on compliance and access control,” Rush says. “A year in, they start to be comfortable with the system and want to get into productivity, utilization and energy management.
For example, one customer using a pallet truck with remote control functionality combined telematics data and warehouse management system data into their analytics. This allowed them to measure, for instance, the impact on pick rate if an operator uses the remote feature a certain percent of the time. They found that 50% to 60% remote control usage increased the overall pick rate by 12%. “Operators are the hottest commodity out there,” Rush adds, “so that means they need to hire 12% fewer operators.”
Proactive dispatch is becoming more popular and is one of the steps a dealer can handle. To use a telematics module, the operator needs a certification in the system. A lot of customers will certify all operators on the same day, Rush says. “A year later, if the customer forgets to re-certify, they wake up one day and nobody can operate a lift truck,” he says. “Crown can monitor that, let them know these things are coming and help them prepare.”
Rush reiterates the need for planning before implementing telematics. He’s seen arguments between the safety group’s concerns and the operations group’s productivity goals. “Frankly, they have to work it out between themselves to come to agreement,” he says. “It comes back to best practices, and the more you can establish up front, the less debate you have to have going forward.”