Fork Truck Control Ltd (‘FTC’) is a leading independent supplier of safety and efficiency systems to the materials handling industry and works with forklift truck manufacturers and dealers to deliver truck monitoring and safety solutions to clients in a range of industry sectors. Their wide portfolio of ancillary equipment is compatible with all makes of forklift and includes telematics, CCTV solutions and data logging systems which, when fitted to machines, record who the driver is and any incidents that occur during shifts. They also provide a Vehicle Management System, which reduces costs and increases productivity.
2018 is proving a very successful year for FTC. They won a major contract with a large automobile manufacturer, in conjunction with a major forklift supplier. They also won a major telematic contract with one of the UK’s largest port authorities, again in conjunction with a major forklift supplier.
Michael Connor is Sales Manager at FTC. He spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – Michael, what does your role as Sales Manager at Fork Truck Control involve? Do you personally work with customers to identify the best system for their needs?
My role as Sales Manager at FTC is very varied. It involves ensuring that our existing customers are well catered for, as well as seeking new business and product opportunities in the materials handling industry. My day to day job is usually based around meeting up with customers both new and existing, to present our product and solutions to them and also assisting them in finding the best safety or efficiency solution. I also need to ensure that my colleagues in the business development team are in line to meet their targets.
WLN – Who else is in the team with you?
As a relatively small to medium business we are quite a tight knit bunch and work together very closely. The team consists of myself, Sales Manager, Jason Griffin, Director, Matt Booth, Business Development Manager, Alan Malhas, Business Development, Nick Sheldon, Training Coordinator, Jessica Connor, Office administrator, Jackie Martin, accounts, Janina Hammond, Customer Support, Tim Baker, Technical Manager and Charlie Davis, System Support Analyst. We also have a team of five road-based engineers.
WLN – When was FTC set up? Who owns it now?
FTC was established around 15 years ago and is a privately owned business.
WLN – Where are you based? Do you cover the whole UK? What about overseas?
We operate nationally from north to south and east to west. We also have some international customers in the Middle East, America, the Far East and mainland Europe.
WLN – Being based in Leicestershire, do you do much business with the big distribution warehouses nearby, like Magna Park?
We do have some large customers in our local area.
WLN – Can you talk us through the different equipment and solutions in your portfolio? How does the Vehicle Management System reduce costs?
We offer many different solutions, from basic access control systems all the way up to fully online telematics products. In between we offer pedestrian safety products, speed zoning and control systems and a wide range or camera solutions. We are also capable of designing real bespoke solutions when the requirement arises. Generally, our systems can reduce costs in the form of operator abuse, negligence and general wear and tear, fleet reduction and electronic management of vital safety information.
WLN – Do you supply complete fleet monitoring solutions? Are your systems scaleable as the fleet grows?
Our main fleet management solution is a product called Optafleet, which is a modular and complete fleet monitoring system. The Optafleet system can be as simple or as advanced as the customer requires. We often install this system onto a small proportion of a customer’s trucks, and when they realise the many benefits of the solution they can roll this out onto other vehicles to achieve the same benefit.
WLN – What kind of incidents will your systems monitor?
The Optafleet product is extremely versatile and can monitor and report on anything on a vehicle that has an existing sensor or that an electronic sensor can be added onto. Generally speaking we tend to monitor items such as driver access control, driver licensing, pre-operational safety checks, impacts detection, driver behaviour, vehicle utilisation, overloading and various other more bespoke solutions. The Optafleet is in a state of continual development and we are always taking on board customers’ feedback and adapting the system to better suit their needs (where beneficial, of course!)
WLN – Can your solutions be tailored to individual customers’ requirements?
In most cases our solutions can be tailored to meet a customer’s specific need.
WLN – How are you set up to cover the forklift truck market? Do you have a direct sales force and field service force?
We have direct sales staff, indirect sales staff and a service team.
WLN – Do you work with forklift distributors and OEM’s? What about operators of big fleets?
We do work with some of the OEM’s and we have many large customers with extensive fleets.
WLN – Can your systems be fitted to all forklift trucks, of all kinds and capacities? How easily can your systems be retrofitted to existing trucks?
The beauty of us being an independent company is that where a customer has a mixed fleet of many different vehicle types we can usually install the same solution to all types of equipment and gather the same information and results.
WLN – How easily installed are your monitoring solutions?
Most of our products come in either an easy to install kit form with full instruction guides or we tend to install them, it depends on what suits the customer the best.
WLN – Presumably as well as being installed on the forklifts, these monitoring systems need to be connected up to a local area network within the workplace. Or can they run on businesses’ WiFi?
Our more up to date solutions such as Optafleet and FM Lite work using global SIM cards. As a business we decided that we wanted to move away from Wi-Fi solutions, as they are not as flexible as GPRS systems. All up to date fleet management systems use GPRS, as it is generally the most effective method of secure data transfer.
WLN – Do you supply telematic solutions for other vehicles, including vans and lorries?
We have in the past installed them in other types of vehicle including vans, trailers and lorries, however we tend to stick within our own business environment.
WLN – 2018 is proving a pretty big year for you as a company. Can you tell us about the two major contracts you won this year, first the one with the automobile manufacturer and second, the ports authority? How did they come about? Are you tied to working with any particular forklift manufacturers?
FTC as a business has grown year upon year, we have been very fortunate in some of the new contracts that we have acquired. Two of the larger customers that we have recently acquired have been as a direct result of them having poor experiences of “other” fleet management providers and often having very negative attitudes towards them. In both instances we have had to work very hard to ensure the prospect was convinced they had a robust solution that would deliver real results. We managed to demonstrate this effectively and as a result we managed to secure two very prestigious customers that we hope to work with for many years to come.
WLN – Going back to the ports contract, ports cover pretty large places. Up to what distance from the fleet control room can your systems monitor trucks?
We work with many customers who are quayside, and this requires a longrange solution. Using the latest GPRS we are able to monitor vehicles that are installed with our equipment globally so there are no restrictions on distance as long as there is reasonable GPRS signal. In most cases this is not an issue.
WLN – Is CCTV evidence from your systems admissible in evidence?
Yes, with the “continual recording camera” solution that we provide the system is completely tamper proof and the video footage is encrypted so it is admissible in a court of law.
WLN – Are you planning to add more forklift monitoring equipment to your portfolio?
Yes, we are working on multiple projects as we speak. We will undoubtedly release more information on these when they are nearly ready for market.
WLN – Are you exhibiting at any industry shows this year or next?
We are considering various trade shows at the moment, nothing has been finalized.
WLN – How fast is FTC growing? Where do you see FTC going from here?
We have been very lucky and have grown year upon year since we have been trading. We have a lot of new developments with existing systems as well as an array of new products that we are working on, so we are hoping to continue the growth trend for the coming years.