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Material Handling Insights

Sep 1, 2020 9:00:00 AM // 5 min read

5 Ways to Optimise Your Operation and Plan Your Future Forklift Fleet

By Marcus Turner
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5 Ways to Optimise Your Operation and Plan Your Future Forklift Fleet

Planning for the future can feel overwhelming at times. But when it comes to your forklift fleet and material handling equipment, making an investment now can pay dividends later on. In this article, we reveal how you can optimise your operation.

At TCM, we’re always looking to the future. And there’s a good reason for this. When it comes to your business’ material handling needs, it’s likely they’re ever-evolving. Outside of your operation, broader material handling industry changes are ongoing, and the pace of change is showing no signs of slowing down. From 2035 onwards, there’s plenty to consider.

Read on to find out how you can gain better value from your suppliers, introduce more tailored solutions, and how our consultative approach adds value to businesses.

1. Review relationships with suppliers

When looking to reduce your business’ TCO, assessing your relationships with suppliers is a good place to start. 

Ask yourself, are the terms of your agreement reasonable? Are you getting the best possible value from your suppliers? If the answer is “no”, can you negotiate to strike a better deal?

A key factor to consider is whether the relationship between you and the supplier is mutually beneficial. If one of you is consistently falling short, it might be time to reassess.

2. Assess your current material handling equipment

Taking stock of your current material handling equipment is another easy way to assess what you have today and consider your future requirements. Some of the questions you should ask include:

- Is your equipment fit for purpose, both for the tasks that need carrying out and for your operating environment? 

- Are there gaps in your material handling equipment that need filling?

- Are any of your machines in need of servicing or repairing?

- Is any of your equipment in need of being replaced/reaching end of life?

- Is your forklift fleet future-proofed? For example, by 2035, petrol and diesel engines will be banned from sale. Therefore, now is a good opportunity to consider whether you can start transitioning to an electric fleet sooner, before the ban comes into play.

  • Is your equipment fit for purpose, both for the tasks that need carrying out and for your operating environment? 
  • Are there gaps in your material handling equipment that need filling?
  • Are any of your machines in need of servicing or repairing?
  • Is any of your equipment in need of being replaced/reaching end of life?
  • Is your forklift fleet future-proofed? For example, by 2035, petrol and diesel engines will be banned from sale. Therefore, now is a good opportunity to consider whether you can start transitioning to an electric fleet sooner, before the ban comes into play.

To find out how you can start your electrification journey, download your free copy of our Electrification Readiness Checklist now.

3. Optimise existing operator shift patterns

Another impactful way to optimise your operation and improve productivity is to assess operators’ existing shift patterns.

Firstly, are operators taking adequate breaks? Operator fatigue can reduce productivity and, even more importantly, increase the likelihood of forklift accidents, so it’s important to review this regularly.

If you’re operating either a partially electric or a fully electric fleet, you might also want to consider whether there are enough breaks throughout the working day to accommodate battery charging. If your trucks are frequently running out of battery, and there’s rarely a fully charged spare machine ready to go, this could be creating unnecessary downtime. This will not only have a negative impact on productivity, but it will affect your bottom line too.

Finally, is your maintenance and repair schedule as comprehensive as it should be? Being able to highlight minor equipment faults before they become an obstacle is essential to prevent breakdowns and keep your operation running like clockwork.

4. Assess safety requirements

For warehouse managers, it goes without saying that operator safety is paramount. If you haven’t done a safety audit in a while, it's time to schedule it in! Areas to look out for include whether operators have undertaken all necessary driver training (and if it’s been a while, you may want to introduce a refresher course). 

When it comes to warehouse layout optimisation, safety signs and floor markings are effective ways to improve operator safety, as well as to safeguard other members of staff. Visibility is also essential, so it’s important to ensure staff are equipped with high-vis clothing and that the operating environment is free from obstructions at all times.

If you’re operating an electric fleet, there are also specific safety precautions you should take. This includes ensuring charging stations feature acid-resistant flooring in case of spills and providing eyewash facilities as a further safety measure. 

Related Read: Preventing Common Forklift Accidents in Your Workplace

5. Consider future business opportunities

In today’s climate, businesses’ needs are rapidly evolving, which can in turn impact material handling requirements. For example, could your business accommodate a sudden increase in e-commerce-related material handling activities? Or is it currently ill-equipped to handle a shift in the market?

Start by monitoring industry trends and making evidence-based predictions now about what the future could look like. This will make it much easier for your business to adapt as and when changes do arise.

At TCM, our trusted dealer network is committed to helping you not only optimise your operation now but to helping you prepare for the future. We pride ourselves on our consultative approach with each and every customer, and will work tirelessly to identify the right solution for you. 

To find out how we can help your business find new ways to innovate and stay ahead of the curve, click the button below to speak with your local dealer today.

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