interpret, and implement the data and findings. If your
warehouse team has not been consistently tracking
fleet utilization, operator performance, impacts, and
scheduled maintenances, it is more difficult to measure
opportunities for efficiency improvement—and to justify
the associated costs.
Telematics solutions and integrated truck
technology have become driving forces in the
decision-making process. The data these systems
gather sets a baseline to identify issues—such as
hidden costs and missing hours—that are impacting
your company’s bottom line. Once you have a baseline
established, you can pinpoint facility and operating
inefficiencies and determine opportunities for labor and
fleet optimization. These operational enhancements go
a long way in optimizing your warehouse, so when you
decide automation is right for your facility, you make the
most of your investment.
Right-Type and Right-Size
Your Fleet to Save Time and Money
Telematics data can also be used to expose equipment
inefficiency patterns and assist with right-typing your
fleet. For example, buying new equipment for a larger
fleet isn’t always the answer. Nor is using counterbalanced
trucks to perform pallet jack functions because you
currently own only counterbalanced trucks. Before
making any big decisions about how much and what type
of equipment you need, consult the telematics data. This
information can help determine if your current fleet is
meeting your load capacity needs and if the right trucks
are being used for the right tasks. If you have the right
number of trucks, but need to upgrade their capabilities,
also consider what new features and attachments can
be retrofitted to existing equipment. This could save you
from having to buy an entirely new truck.
Another aspect of fleet right-sizing that telematics
systems can help with is determining when it is better to
rent, lease, or buy equipment. Telematics monitor peak
operation seasons and evaluate when you may have
heightened equipment needs. Right-sizing your fleet to
fit day-to-day needs, and potentially renting equipment
when necessary, can save on maintenance and truck costs.
It will also make introducing automated trucks much
easier in the future because the warehouse equipment
inventory will be optimized for its workload.
Control Cost of Ownership and
Upgrade to New Technology Offerings
When you need to upgrade your fleet, leasing can
bring added value. Leasing allows customers to pay for
equipment as it produces, helping optimize cash flow.
In addition, leasing can help ensure planned equipment
updates to control cost of ownership, take advantage of
new, more efficient technology, and avoid obsolescence.
As you think about your next equipment needs,
remember an operating lease helps improve the
affordability of emerging technologies such as integrated
telematics, reach trucks that store heavier pallets higher
within a warehouse, and smart truck options like pick-
to-light technology that can help minimize pick errors—
leaving you free to update again at the end of the lease
to the next product generation. With little to no money
down, leasing provides an alternative funding source to
keep your fleet running longer and using the latest and
greatest advancements. All of these equipment utilization
efficiencies will make it easier to automate when you
determine the time is right.
Ultimately, there are many advantages automation can
bring to a warehouse, but managers will fail to realize
those efficiencies without optimizing as a necessary first
step. Fortunately, numerous tools and data are available
today to measure productivity and make proactive
changes to operations before investing in automation.
By studying key data and establishing baseline
measurements today, your facility will be better prepared
for automation tomorrow.
Chris Merta is the product manager, automation, at The
Raymond Corporation. John Rosenberger is the director
of iWAREHOUSE GATEWAY and Global Telematics at The
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