Telematics for Forklifts

How does it help boost your business?

Forklift telematics enable your fleet to run as efficiently and effectively as possible. Utilizing GPS technology, wireless connectivity and telemetry, today’s telematics systems offer significant advantages for materials handling controllers.  As well as tracking the location of individual trucks, telematics systems can track which operators have accessed equipment, when and for how long; they can monitor operator behavior such as speed and movement patterns and report on maintenance and servicing requirements.

WHAT IS TELEMATICS FOR FORKLIFTS IN A MATERIALS HANDLING CONTEXT?

Telematics minimize costs by making it possible to run a fleet of fork trucks and batteries to ensure they are used in the right places and utilized in the right way.  Wireless communication and tracking technology inform controllers as to how capacity is being utilized, how drivers are performing, and provides insight into the safety of trucks.

Telematics, using sensors and monitoring technology, offer real-time information to supervisors and operators on productivity and offer a birds-eye view of the equipment employed at any given moment.  These Telematics can be applied to any “fleet” of forklift trucks in a vehicle management system, controlling anything from one vehicle up to many in the largest of handling facilities.

HOW DOES TELEMATICS TRACK YOUR FLEET?

It connects the dots and turns forklifts into communication devices linked to a central information hub.  With sensors on the connected vehicle, a user can track the location and status of the truck. Telematics began as a simple GPS tracking system and as the technology transformed from military applications the tech has become widely adopted in business and daily life.

Quickly developing from a method to aid navigation and measuring the distance traveled by vehicles, telematics have evolved into something much more powerful covering every part of a vehicle’s work-life service. The once humble forklift truck has very much become a part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

A connected vehicle management system, utilizing forklift telematics, connects communication systems with the truck’s onboard electronics and the battery management system. Utilizing cellular technology removes the need for a WiFi infrastructure making the tech more accessible for smaller fleets who can’t justify the investment in a fixed wireless system.

WHAT DOES A TELEMATICS SYSTEM TRACK?

Vehicle management systems track all activities carried out by the fleet. Tools actively track starts, stops, the duration of stops and the traveling and lifting operations by all trucks.  These systems can also track the whereabouts and movements of people to provide insight into operator behavior to boost productivity and profitability, and provide a valuable safety tool.

Today’s telematics systems go much further than just tracking activity with increasingly sophisticated reporting and analytic management tools. Systems provide not only meaningful data but also real-time business intelligence.  With lithium-ion batteries, the telematics system can also real time monitor the charging, discharging and temperature of the battery. This way the lifetime of the batteries can be optimized.

MANAGE DRIVERS AS WELL AS FORKLIFTS

Telematics can also give you tools to help with the management of your drivers, as well as your fleet. The vehicle management system uses access cards in order to look at how your staff are using your forklifts.  With the access card system, each driver has a card and can only access a truck when it is swiped through the card reader on each of the forklifts. The telematics system then tracks the information and behavior of each driver that uses that truck.  This gives you an overview of drivers working hours, how often each truck is used and for how long, and other vital information that can help you ensure that you are getting the most out of your staff, as well as your fleet.

WHY IS IT USEFUL TO TRACK FORKLIFT FLEETS WITH TELEMATICS?

A vehicle management system can remotely monitor, diagnose and troubleshoot units to make sure that equipment is back on-line as soon as possible.  Systems can monitor battery performance enabling fleets to operate with a power source that is optimally charged, powered and ready. If operators are repeatedly failing to recharge batteries, this can be quickly identified and instructions given to remedy the failure. Applications such as GPS Fleet Management monitor battery safety by identifying optimum charging windows such as idle times, break times and lunch times.

Integrating all of this data expands capabilities still further. Offering insight into material flow and labor utilization, systems allow fleet managers to quickly identify inefficiencies and the unnecessary costs associated with the interaction of people, processes, equipment and batteries.

THE APPLICATION OF TELEMATICS DATA

Real-time insights from telematics data are extensive and enable a level of control over fleet deployment which has never been possible before. Systems monitor and respond to every step in the materials management flow.  As the forklift goes about its activity, error-code reporting allows for real-time alerts to be fed to maintenance teams. Swift countermeasures can be taken to respond to malfunctions in order to minimize downtime.

The extensive flow of operational data from each unit can be easily analyzed by powerful software tools to report on fleet deployment. Analysis can assist planners in determining the optimal fleet size and mix. Cost savings are achievable by identifying opportunities to reduce fleet size and hire days.  Assessing the activities undertaken by individual vehicles can identify situations where a more appropriate piece of equipment could be deployed. For example, if a forklift is being used mainly to horizontally transport items around a warehouse, a powered pallet truck may be identified as a more appropriate option.

Other telematics additional features ideal for equipment leasing companies which can activate and disable trucks remotely, in accordance with agreements and notify users and the hire company as to when leases are about to expire.

THE BUSINESS BENEFITS OF TELEMATICS VEHICLE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

Deployment of telematics systems around the globe has shown that operators perform more consistently when they know they are being monitored.  These systems enable comparisons between all other operators and vehicles in the system and compare the performance of different teams and shifts. This increase in accountability is an effective way of lifting productivity. Some organizations have introduced initiatives like league tables and reward schemes based on the results of telematics data to enhance and encourage performance.

Fleet management systems enable controllers to measure the efficiency of a fleet at any given moment in time. Real-time data means that idle trucks can be identified and downtime be minimized. Many businesses will have an idea that their fleet is operating inefficiently, but without tangible data to back this up, effective action can be difficult to implement and Telematics do just this.

These system can be integrated with organizational monitoring and compliance procedures to provide essential insight and reporting. Compliance and improvement targets can be implemented to boost safety and productivity.  Telematics systems can be deployed to enhance training and maintenance requirements. Analysis of the hours spent performing certain tasks can be undertaken and training resources dedicated to critical and repetitive activities.

Cost savings resulting from the implementation of telematics technology vary enormously from industry to industry and are dependent on the size and nature of the operation. But reports continue to document huge efficiencies and savings and significant returns on investment.

Want to find out more about Thompson & Johnson’s telematics systems and how they can benefit your business? Call Thompson & Johnson today to speak to an equipment specialist or fill out a Customer Request Email Form above! 

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.