IOT and Forklift Telematics: 3 Situations Where Their Use Helps You Gain More Control

by Ryan Lynch | Tue, Mar 30, 2021

forklift-telematicsAre you a facility or maintenance manager whose list of tasks grows by the day? Are you being asked to have a higher throughput this year in the last year, while also reducing costs? Has inventory at the facility grown by 40% this year? What about your labor requirements? Are you rolling out a new WMS system, a new business process, or a technology change? 

These are the questions our customers are currently addressing and are faced with every day. It's rare to meet a facility leader who doesn't have their hair on fire, all day, every day.

One of the places we are helping customers get more control (and put out that "hair on fire") is with their material handling equipment. This is a Top 3 expense for high-velocity warehouses. (We define a high-velocity facility as a multi-shift operation with 15+ forklifts.)

For many high-velocity facilities, outsourcing your material handling equipment and maintenance makes perfect sense. But it doesn't work for everyone. That group often turns to the Internet of Things (IoT) and forklift telematics to get more control.  

We believe there are three situations where this makes sense. Consider IOT and telematics if you need to:

1. Use battery telematics to get usage and power performance control. At Concentric, we implement battery telematics (RAAMS) all the time for customers who don't utilize forklift telematics.  Battery telematics does three main things:

  • Delivers actual usage data, as well as uptime data at a lower cost. 

  • Gives a sense of the longevity and uptime of your forklift power source. 

  • Allows you to optimize as your power source ages into years 3-6. This is incredibly important if you're in a cold storage environment, or you're running multi-shift in heavy use or heavy equipment situations.   

Ideal facility: Most high-velocity can benefit greatly from telematics implementation.  Typically, the extension in battery life and reduction in downtime alone is worth the ROI.

2. Drive control, as well as operator safety and compliance. This involves implementing an entry-level forklift telematics package that includes operator swipe, OSHA checklists, safety impacts, and usage data. This won't give you control of your forklift power, but it will help you improve compliance on safety practices and shift times, as well as beginning to identify lower-usage equipment.    

Ideal facility: Since the ROI is challenging, typically a safety/sustainability push drives these decisions for high-velocity facilities.

3. Drive complete optimization. This is the Rolls Royce option and means implementing all the forklift telematics bells and whistles. This is not only a big upfront commitment, it’s an ongoing commitment to manage and take action with the insights gained.  

We've seen a few large customers do this very well on their own. But we've also seen many customers spend a lot upfront, maintain it for a while, only to end up with a lot of very expensive paperweights in year two. But, done right, it can help you take the waste out of your business processes, improve operator performance and productivity over time.   

Ideal facility:  We recommend this for very large equipment fleet customers who can justify the cost of the telematics spend but are also either (a) willing to devote a resource to manage the tool and take action on its insights full time or (b) outsource management to a third party. We also recommend this for customers who expect to regularly drive business process/workflow changes; with closely managed telematics data, you can certainly get an edge here.

In summary, if you are trying to get total control over your equipment but don't want to outsource, a telematics offering might be right for you--especially when you have 50 other things on your plate. That said, we would argue that you strongly should consider outsourcing the use of telematics and the maintenance of your forklifts, as well as your power to a third party.  

However, before you make a decision either way, we would recommend a full assessment. That means you do a full examination of your workflows, your business processes, your equipment, and your maintenance practices to ensure you have the right forklifts and power system in place so that you can benefit from all of those telematics offerings. Just doing an assessment doesn't mean you have to change equipment. However, if you don’t have telematics, you should expect your partners to do an assessment every several years so that you can continually change. You should not have to wait for an equipment purchase moment to improve what's happening from a workflow and equipment standpoint at your facility. 

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