zIt is commonly understood that a successful warehouse operation must optimise the two key ingredients; space and time. To control costs and optimise productivity we can break this down into three considerations; space, staff and equipment. All must work harmoniously together to allow the operation to function competitively.
The first area to look at is ensuring you have the right mixture and number of machines. The simplest way to get transparency on how each piece of your equipment is being used, when and for how long, is to use the information available via an online tracking system if your materials handling equipment provider has one available.
Using an online tracking portal means you can identify high usage on individual machines and you can rotate the fleet to ensure you optimise the hours you have included in your contract on other less used machines. This information allows you to make informed decisions about possible fleet rationalisation to match your site’s evolving requirements.
Seasonal fluctuations should be considered when you review your fleet numbers too. It is likely that you will need more machines on site at certain points in the calendar than during the rest of the year. Rather than keeping the number of machines you need during these peak periods on site all the time, why not consider short term hire? Use the flexibility of short term hire to boost productivity through busy periods without adding to your long term fleet, delivering a substantial saving and getting the job done.
Service and maintenance agreements Once you have the number of machines and the hours of operation right, it is worth looking at your information on breakdowns for frequency and type. This allows you to identify trends, address recurring problems and save cash in the long term. For example if tyre damage is a frequent occurrence it may indicate that the terrain the trucks are being run over is less than ideal. This gives the opportunity for review of both the environment and the way in which the trucks are being used to remedy any issues and minimise future damage.
If when looking at your breakdown and damage costs you identify a pattern with the way that machines are being handled by staff, additional training and an internal campaign to raise awareness of the true cost of damages can often reduce them and help champion good operator skills, for example, driver awareness days featuring a number of fun handling challenges for the drivers. It allows them to put their driving skills to the test whilst helping raise awareness of damage costs through challenges such as ‘guess the replacement cost of the part’. Consider the benefits of an awareness campaign, it’s not only educational but fun which always encourages staff engagement.
Another simple method is to create posters to use around the facility, to remind drivers of the cost of replacement parts (as they may not be aware of just how much they really cost) and to encourage them to look after the machines.
Empower through education Is productivity put on hold while you are waiting for a trained operator to use a particular machine? Why not identify a rota of staff members to train in the use that machine? It might well be that the cost of the training is less than the delayed productivity. It is helpful to review your entire warehouse staff’s training on a regular basis to maintain skill levels as your team and fleet evolve.
It is important to continually assess how efficiently you use the space available to you. It may be that you have done this extensively before but that you have experienced a growth of volume or diversified your operations and the previous layout and methods are no longer the most effective. Using a 3D simulation of your warehouse can demonstrate a flow of operations and identify where congestion or risks occur. It allows you to trial possible alternative layouts without commitment and is an excellent tool for demonstrating rationale for change and improvement.
At Briggs Equipment, we can help you to address all these areas. We don’t just supply and maintain forklifts, we have a very diverse range of equipment suitable for all warehouse applications available on a variety of leases to suit your business needs. We also provide operator training, advise on controlling costs associated with your materials handling fleet, provide you with fleet insights at your fingertips via BE Portal and can help you plan your warehouse space through a 3D visualisation programme.