The supply chain and warehouse are overflowing with data; not all of it on product movement. Warehouse and forklift connectivity is generating data on worker performance, forklift utilization and the health and status of equipment. Companies are investing to collect and analyze data to increase productivity, lower costs and enhance safety.
One area where greater connectivity delivers value is in forklift fleet service and maintenance. Connected service technicians, armed with new technology, are making service calls smarter and more proactive. Where data on forklift performance and operation is available, supply chain managers can expect service techs to arrive on-site understanding the maintenance issue and having the right part to make the repair.
Connected tools, such as mobile tablets or even augmented reality, can help walk the technician through the repair. Data entered from the service call is then uploaded to the service cloud, giving fleet managers visibility to the maintenance issue and repair to strengthen the service data pool.
As service providers work with customers to implement a connected maintenance program, warehouse and supply chain executives can realize important forklift fleet maintenance benefits.
1. Reduced downtime
When forklifts are not running, products are not moving. Connected maintenance enables managers and executives to reduce unplanned downtime and the mean time to repair (MTTR). Monitoring forklift performance and health data allows managers and service techs to be more proactive and recognize symptoms before they become larger issues that result in downtime. Service techs can use the information to ensure they arrive on-site, with the right parts, to address an issue and shorten MTTR.
2. Predictive maintenance
Connected maintenance allows organizations to transition to a more proactive service and maintenance program. The service provider uses historical data to diagnose potential causes of issues before techs arrive onsite or even schedule maintenance to anticipate and eliminate potential issues. As forklifts become more connected, service and maintenance programs can utilize software updates and downloads to address certain issues without a service call.
3. Hourly based planned maintenance
Most planned maintenance schedules align equipment maintenance cycles and plot shutdown periods. Armed with greater connectivity and actionable data on forklift performance, managers can instead align planned maintenance schedules to the business cycle. For instance, if data shows certain forklifts are operated more during a certain period of time, managers can tailor the maintenance schedule to specifically target those trucks and shorten the shutdown period.
4. Visibility into service status
It can often be difficult to monitor progress once a work order has been issued. Connected maintenance provides managers visibility during every step of the process. Through established channels and processes, service providers can record information about the issue, service visit and resolution. Managers can then create an informed, planned replacement product life cycle formula unique to the organization.
Managers can design a maintenance plan around how they use equipment. Unlike a flat-rate monthly program, a “Maintenance-by-the-Hour” approach aligns with an organization’s business model and forklift use. Maintenance costs directly correlate with equipment utilization, and maintenance schedules adapt to peaks and valleys in the business cycle.
As connectivity increases in material handling, forklift manufacturers are working with customers to establish connected maintenance programs that deliver benefits and ensure forklift fleets are available and operational when needed.