This case study focuses on Continental Tire’s Mt. Vernon, IL, manufacturing plant and warehouse for passenger, light truck and commercial tires. This facility manages the complete tire development process, from design to production to delivery. The Mt. Vernon manufacturing facility is one of the largest within Continental, with approximately 70 acres under one roof.
The Continental Tire team, led by Fleet & Rolling Stock Manager Nathan Baugher, identified several challenges that could be resolved with a Vehicle Management System (VMS). Initially, Continental Tire management wanted to reduce the abuse and damage associated with industrial vehicles within their facility. But after seeing the different capabilities that PowerFleet’s system had to offer, they realized the system’s potential to improve safety, productivity, and efficiency as well.
Consequently, Continental Tire chose the PowerFleet VMS from PowerFleet.
Industry-wide, industrial vehicle operators often use vehicles carelessly and managers are often not notified of unsafe conditions that may result, including facility, rack and inventory damage. PowerFleet solves that problem by establishing accountability for each and every vehicle. An operator must log in using PowerFleet to drive a vehicle. This ensures that only trained drivers can operate vehicles, and that each operator becomes responsible for the actions that follow.
Continental Tire has forecasted a 33% improvement in vehicle-related damage costs in just the warehouse alone.
“An increase in safety and awareness is definitely our number one priority,” said Mr. Baugher. “Near misses are just as bad as actual accidents. It is our goal to do everything in our power to create the safest working environment possible.” Since operators are now accountable for their vehicles with PowerFleet, there is heightened awareness and drivers are more careful of their surroundings. Continental Tire has forecasted a 33% improvement in vehicle-related damage in just the warehouse alone.
Continental Tire previously used paper checklists to complete their vehicle safety inspections. They had a common industry challenge where operators were not actively evaluating the vehicles and were blindly completing the form. Additionally, it took extensive administrative effort from the Production and Safety Departments to collect and manage the checklist paperwork.
Now, the on-vehicle PowerFleet device prompts each operator to complete a safety checklist prior to each shift or vehicle use; failure to do so can disable that vehicle. This not only increases operator accountability, but also alerts management if operators are not inspecting their vehicles. Since the checklist results are captured and stored electronically, Mr. Baugher and the safety team can now review checklist answers and operator compliance through an easy, automated report from their desktop.
In addition to increasing operator accountability, checklists have also increased vehicle maintenance efficiency. By looking at the answers the operators have given, maintenance can now quickly identify any issue with the vehicle and perform the needed work, before it becomes a major repair.
Fleet reduction goals were met within 4 months; within one year, the system will have paid for itself.
Without a vehicle management system, there is no way to consistently and accurately gather data on industrial vehicle use. With PowerFleet, the Continental Tire team captures comprehensive, detailed vehicle utilization data over time and makes fleet “right-sizing” decisions. They have also increased productivity by evaluating and benchmarking the activity of vehicles and personnel. “The data we are gathering is invaluable,” stated Mr. Baugher. “It’s like having an industrial engineer riding on every fork truck 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
By evaluating their vehicle use and productivity data, Continental Tire was able to eliminate a truck from their warehouse. In addition, they were able to reduce the headcount associated with the vehicle by eliminating three vacant staffing opportunities. This change alone resulted in over $100,000 in total savings. Mr. Baugher said, “the only reason we were able to make that change is because we could see the productivity data from PowerFleet. It’s challenging to remove vehicles from departments without data to prove that it won’t impact their day-to-day operations.”
Continental Tire has also increased industrial vehicle productivity by using the PowerFleet text messaging module. Managers in the warehouse send real-time text messages to operators dynamically as work requirements change – for example, if a fork truck is needed unexpectedly at a certain dock door. The operator can instantly answer back to confirm that the task is being completed. This change has virtually eliminated the need for 2-way radios in the warehousing facility.
Continental Tire deployed the PowerFleet Maintenance module to schedule preventive maintenance based on actual vehicle use, instead of on a calendar basis. Continental Tire’s maintenance is outsourced; when a vehicle is coming due for service, the module lets the service provider know, and the vehicle is scheduled accordingly. “It’s crucial to have a strong notification system in place to make sure we maintain our vehicle warranties,” noted Mr. Baugher.
To avoid work disruption, PowerFleet’s automated preventive maintenance notifications allow the service provider to pro actively plan the best day and time with a department to free up each vehicle. On the day of service, the service provider can use PowerFleet’s Vision software to instantly see the real-time location of the vehicle on a map of the facility. This means more time is spent servicing vehicles with less time spent searching
Mr. Baugher stated, “Our goal is to have a plantwide fleet management program based on utilization and hours, which would be impossible to achieve without data. PowerFleet offers the perfect solution because it tracks exactly the data we need and is one of the key building blocks to obtain our overall goal for the facility.”
Mr. Baugher continued, “We want to be the #1 tire manufacturing facility in the world and the plant of choice for the introduction of new products. PowerFleet helps drive process costs down and increases productivity, which ultimately lowers our cost per tire and positively impacts the bottom line.”