The Status Quo is Your Biggest Enemy When It Comes to Fleet Management

Forklift-Fleet-MaintenanceTFS employees visit thousands of facilities each year. That’s how we know that even the most respected names in manufacturing and distribution—Fortune 500 companies with huge budgets—are struggling.

While these big companies have more advantages than most of their peers, they still deal with long MHE lead times, labor shortages, and extreme pressure from the C-suite. We often find that material handling execs have no idea how many MHEs they have overall, let alone in different locations. They’ve usually lost track of the expensive rentals they’re using to fill the gaps while they wait for equipment. And forget about getting the data they need…

In other words, what you don’t know can hurt you. That’s why the status quo is fleet management’s biggest enemy.

If the “big guys” with significant resources barely keep it together, you know that holds even more true for companies with less money to throw at issues.

But make no mistake—money helps, but doesn’t solve the underlying issues. Many companies, already facing labor and budget issues, are just trying to stay afloat. They believe they’re already stretched too thin, so they can’t tackle a big project.

The irony is that fixing the issues will take upfront time and effort but will free up resources, allowing leadership to reallocate money.

Stop waiting for the perfect time to make improvements.

Understandably, fleet management enhancements fall off a company’s radar, especially these past few years, when everyone is just trying to stay afloat. Plus, projects feel even more intimidating when facility leaders lack data-driven insights into how their fleets are financed or maintained—because they don’t even know where to begin.

Even those who recognize the value of enhancing fleet management practices and processes aren’t always eager to invest the required time and resources, opting instead to wait for a “better time” that rarely comes.

In short: we get why facilities can hesitate to begin an overhaul. However, as we’ve helped our clients recognize, the advantages outweigh the initial obstacles and reservations. There are no shortcuts if your company wants to unlock significant savings and create safer, more productive warehouses.

After all, fleet management is one of the most significant expenses in a warehouse facility. In addition, downtime caused by equipment failure takes a huge toll on a warehouse’s productivity, budget, and morale. That’s why there is immense value in identifying, rationalizing, and implementing fleet management enhancements.

Getting started

The first step is taking stock. Before any overhaul can occur, you should conduct a thorough and holistic audit and evaluation of the fleet management system. This involves quantifying your inventory (where the equipment is in its economic useful life), identifying and evaluating your fleet management processes, fully ascertaining your maintenance spend, and scrutinizing your fleet procurement and financing approaches.

It also means taking an honest look at how your company monitors and maintains its fleets and related power systems. It also means reviewing the existing strategies for fleet maintenance, operator training, and what happens when machines go down.

Fleet audits take time and resources, but the payoff is a strong start to a comprehensive fleet-management strategy. And don’t forget that audits can be outsourced to fleet management specialists with experience turning the findings into actionable and incremental steps for improvement.

Facilities that create a fleet management roadmap will see tangible benefits in four key areas:

  • Safety. New and well-maintained equipment is safer equipment. That, combined with more effective and ergonomic processes, means operators are happier, more effective, and more productive. Good morale becomes even more crucial during a labor shortage.
  • Productivity. When paired with expert procurement strategies, thorough and proactive fleet management can result in fewer supply chain disruptions and less downtime for your team.
  • Cost savings. Facilities benefit from a high level of visibility into the telematics needed to make smart equipment purchasing and maintenance decisions. Through educated and proactive planning, they can get ahead of procurement issues before they arise and mitigate downtime, equaling greater throughput and productivity.
  • Sustainability. The clean energy transition is coming, whether your warehouse is ready or not. Transitioning to electric vehicles and energy-efficient processes is no easy feat, but it becomes far simpler when the facility has a strong grasp on forklift management to drive decisions that could positively impact the bottom line.

Managing the transformation

Any change is difficult, especially one as monumental as rethinking how you manage the equipment that moves your warehouse products. Fortunately, professional outsourced partnerships, data-driven decisions, and future-ready strategies can simplify this transformation.