Digital transformation is far from a new buzzword in the logistics industry. In the world of material handling equipment (MHE), telematics has been one of the driving forces behind digital transformation, bringing fleet visibility to new heights. Companies have increasingly been investing time, energy, and capital into this rapidly evolving technology, and for good reason. Safety, compliance, cost-efficiency, and workforce retention are all enhanced through the data-driven decision making enabled by fleet telematics systems – here’s how.

1. Safety

Ask any fleet manager what their number one priority is, and you’ll likely get the same response – employee safety. Improving safety by leveraging telematics’ robust data directly and positively affects the remaining three reasons why MHE fleets need this technology, placing it at the top of our list. Telematics devices produce consistently accurate impact and incident reports, allowing managers to prevent and reduce accidents by instantly identifying and addressing unsafe patterns and operator behaviors. A few examples of how telematics enhances safety efforts include:

• Controlling access to specific equipment, locking out unauthorized operators or inoperable equipment.
• Identifying certain times of the day and/or operators that cause issues.
• Creating pre-shift checklists, identifying what may be wrong with MHE before shifts begin.
• Setting various levels of incident notifications for supervisors and technicians, detailing severity and allowing for manual override or action.

2. Compliance

Like safety, compliance is a top-ranking priority for fleet managers that can be significantly enhanced through leveraging telematics on MHE. Remaining OSHA compliant requires ensuring every operator has completed their training and received the appropriate safety certification before beginning each workday. Fleet telematics not only tracks and stores upcoming safety certification dates within the software, but it also notifies operators and managers to get ahead of mandated training deadlines and will prevent operators’ access to MHE if they haven’t been successfully completed.

Besides supporting operator certification management, telematics can help drastically reduce the time spent on daily reporting – as well as producing those reports for compliance audits – by eliminating paper-intensive manual processes through digital dashboards. Without telematics, here is what the previously mentioned daily checklist reporting process looks like:

1. Operators must answer a series of questions in a paper notebook, signing it when completed.
2. Then, they must bring it to the appropriate drop-box.
3. Next, an employee must separate the lists into equipment categories.
4. Finally, the reports are placed into a repository to be filed.

With fifty forklifts, five days per week, and shippers having to keep daily checklists for seven years – this equates to mountains of paper and hours of wasted time.

3. Workforce Retention

A less obvious reason why MHE fleets need telematics, but one that deserves more attention, is workforce retention. Stemming from enhanced safety via streamlined incident reporting, the data gleaned from these reports provides an opportunity to scale and measure operators by creating KPIs around safety metrics and best practices. Managers can then implement awards programs that incentivize safe operating behaviors, fostering healthy competition and a culture around safety and understanding which can also boost morale and productivity amongst employees.

4. Cost-Efficiency

Our first three reasons why MHE fleets need telematics all help enhance shippers’ cost-efficiency (directly or indirectly), but two other key ways that telematics increase cost-savings are by optimizing maintenance schedules and MHE utilization. The data insights from telematics devices allow fleet managers to dial-in service levels and provide maintenance as it’s required instead of adhering to a predetermined and inefficient calendar. Vehicle data also enables technicians to extend the life of individual vehicle components via a predictive maintenance program.

Telematics also provides managers visibility into detailed MHE utilization, allowing them to “right-size” their fleet by identifying which equipment is being used. This helps avoid over-ordering forklifts, significantly reducing costs.

With telematics devices benefiting such key areas of business operations for fleet managers, why wouldn’t every shipper implement it across their fleets? While many companies sell this technology and its devices, they don’t spend the necessary time with shippers to show them how to fully maximize the data and articulate it in an actionable way to yield real results. Kenco takes a customer-centric approach, adding value with transferrable knowledge, not just technology. To learn more about how telematics can help improve your MHE fleet’s safety, compliance, workforce retention, and cost-efficiency, visit our FleetCloud telematics solution page.