Industrial trucks are the mainstays of materials handling operations and effectively managing them is key to safety, productivity and cost management. In addition to their impact on productivity and related costs, OSHA found that more than 11% of forklifts are involved in some type of accident each year, making them a major safety hazard.

Vehicle management systems, or VMS, can help control safety risks, maximize productivity and contain costs through access control and real-time telematics. You can easily determine if operators are driving safely, how long it takes to accomplish tasks, whether more vehicles are needed, where to focus labor resources, and much more.

Let’s take a look at five reasons that you need a VMS for your industrial truck fleet.

VMS can help control safety, maximize productivity and contain costs within your industrial truck fleet through access control and data-driven insights. Click To Tweet

#1. Maximize Employee Productivity

Data collected from more than 55,000 VMS installations shows that operators are paid for three to four times more hours than actual material movement time. During a typical eight-hour shift, the data shows that operators are logged into the truck for four hours, the truck is in motion for two hours and the truck is moving with a load for only one hour.

VMS provides the key insights needed to improve productivity. With access to vehicle level data, you can pay incentives based on an operator’s productivity or integrate a warehouse management system, or WMS, to dynamically assign tasks. A single extra hour of motion with load time per shift could double your productivity!

#2. Improve Fleet Management

It’s not uncommon for managers to see unused trucks in a facility while fielding requests to acquire more trucks to meet demand. Oftentimes, these disconnects arise from unauthorized drivers—such as contractors borrowing trucks without returning them—and a lack of real-time visibility into vehicle locations within a facility.

The access control systems that come with VMS ensure that only authorized drivers have access to vehicles. If they fail to return the vehicle, you can easily identify them as the culprit and remind them to return vehicles to the correct location. VMS also provides real-time visibility into vehicle locations to minimize the time spent looking for vehicles.

#3. Optimize Your Budget

Managers are always being asked to do more with less. While improving driver productivity plays a critical role, you also have to optimize the number of forklifts in a facility, make rent versus buy decisions, and allocate vehicles across facilities. These decisions can be extremely difficult to make without the right data points on hand.

VMS can provide the data needed to make these decisions. For instance, you can measure the average and maximum number of vehicles used at any given time, compare that to the number of vehicles at a facility and identify opportunities to re-allocate vehicles to reduce costs. Many of our customers have used reallocation to avoid buying new trucks for years.

#4. Keep Employees Safe

Materials handling is a dangerous business. According to OSHA, forklift accidents cause over 34,900 serious injuries and 85 fatalities each year. OSHA requires employers to ensure that only trained operators can use forklifts while drivers are required to inspect vehicles for unsafe conditions prior to using them—and violations can be dangerous and costly.

VMS enforce daily vehicle safety checklists as well as track and authorize drivers’ access to vehicles. In addition to complying with OSHA regulations, these technologies can help identify who’s responsible for anonymous damage at facilities and enforce safe driving at all times. The cost of a single safety incident is enough to justify the cost of VMS.

#5. Remain Competitive

Domestic manufacturing operations face steep competition from offshore manufacturing, which has sharply lower labor costs. VMS is essential to remain competitive with these facilities and keep manufacturing operations onshore. Every dollar saved in manufacturing and distribution translates to a $5 to $10 increase in sales.

How to Choose a Vendor

There are many different VMS solutions out there and each has its own pros and cons. When choosing between different options, there are several important factors to keep in mind that can help you avoid costly mistakes or create unintended consequences.

Some of the most important factors to keep in mind include:

  • Warranty: Ensure that the proper concurrences are in place from the original equipment manufacturers and dealers to ensure that the VMS will not interfere with UL approvals or other key safety endorsements.
  • Extensibility: The VMS should be installed on all trucks in order to realize the most value. In order to avoid vendor lock-in, you should ensure that VMS works with any type of truck with consistent data capture.
  • Experience: VMS solutions may look similar on the surface, but experienced providers account for edge cases the best. For example, what happens if an operator forgets his badge? You should seek out companies that have been around for a long time.
  • Integrations: VMS should integrate with existing maintenance, warehouse management systems, and safety databases in order to provide the most value. At the same time, you should make sure they don’t burden an already-busy IT department.
  • Return on Investment: VMS should provide a relatively short return on investment. VMS providers should work with you to meet your goals while completing your existing day-to-day work without deployment becoming a full-time job of its own.

The Bottom Line

Vehicle management systems, or VMS, make it easy to improve productivity, reduce costs and enhance safety across your industry truck fleet. In many cases, these solutions provide a return on investment in less than 12 months and help ensure compliance with OSHA regulations.

Powerfleet is a leading provider of VMS and other telematics solutions for industrial truck fleets. From out-of-the-box solutions that don’t require an IT department to advanced solutions for high-density fleets, we have solutions for industrial truck fleets of any size with over 25 years of experience in the industry and 100,000+ units deployed.

Contact us for a free consultation to learn more!

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