Unlocking value from forklift connectivity

Forklifts today can do more than just move stock from one end of the factory to the other – when integrated with the right technology, Crown Equipment says the machines can move your whole organisation forward.

Crown has been providing forklift connectivity and fleet management solutions since 2005. Since then, it has worked with customers to help them integrate forklift fleet management into their businesses. Through that process, Crown has learned valuable lessons about technology adoption in material handling.

But despite the relative maturity of forklift connectivity and fleet management, and its ability to transform the truck into a networked device that brings data-driven decision making to the warehouse floor, only a small group is using the technology.

Crown has identified four keys to realising value from cloud-based forklift fleet management systems:

Clear goals

An organisation that implements forklift fleet management to solve a specific operating issue is more likely to have success.

“That doesn’t mean that forklift fleet management has to be a single-use solution,” says Crown.

“But it does mean that having a clear goal in the early stages is the best way to ensure the system gets integrated into management processes.”

Relevant, timely data

The ability to determine the success of forklift fleet management is compromised without the right data at the right time. To gather this information, Crown says alerts, a dashboard and detailed reports are essential.

• Alerts: Can provide immediate notification of events that require attention. They can be a powerful tool in managing change if correctly set up.

• Management dashboard: Provides a snapshot of operating trends within the warehouse. A well-designed dashboard can enable a shift from reactive to proactive management.

• Detailed reports: Managers need the ability to drill down to isolate problems. This is where the depth of data provided by a forklift fleet management system becomes important.

Management commitment

“It’s tempting with any technology for managers to be engaged during the early stages and then shift their focus once they believe the technology has been successfully implemented,” says Crown.

Instead, engagement with the system needs to grow.

“Senior management needs to communicate their support of their programme, as well as ensure support extends across departments, and departments are working together to achieve defined goals.”

Site preparation

Inadequate site preparation can dampen enthusiasm for new technology and discourage adoption.

“One of the keys to site preparation is getting all stakeholders involved in the planning process, including affected departments (maintenance, operations and safety, among others) as well as IT,” says Crown.

Crown Equipment believes concerns over cost and complexity mean this technology is being underutilised.

“These concerns are common to technology implementations across all industries and should be taken seriously,” says the material handling company.

“However, there is now sufficient experience with forklift connectivity to ensure that implementation issues can be resolved relatively quickly and that significant value can be realised if the organisation sets clear goals.

“Organisations that address these issues directly today will realise the benefits of forklift connectivity in the short term while positioning themselves to build on the technology foundation it provides in the long term.”