Fleet replacement Part 1: Does my lift truck need to go?

By Susan Comfort, product manager of Narrow Aisle Products

Increased reliability and decreased maintenance costs — it’s easy to see the benefits of purchasing a new lift truck to replace one that has run its course. Even better are the benefits of planning ahead with a fleet replacement strategy. Having a strategy will help warehouse managers avoid unexpected downtime from the frequent and costly repairs often needed on older trucks, and it can save on equipment, labor, maintenance, energy and insurance expenses.

A fleet replacement strategy should address big-picture questions like:

  • How do I know if I should replace a truck? And how do I know if I should replace it with something different?
  • What tools will help me determine when to replace a truck?
  • What new equipment options might better fit my needs?

This three-part blog post series will help answer those questions so you can create a fleet replacement strategy to keep operations running smoothly and efficiently. Here, the first part will detail the needs assessment that should take place when replacement is being considered, including if a different type of truck should replace what’s currently used.

When fleet replacement conversations kick off, certain considerations should be made and questions need to be asked to help develop an informed, effective fleet replacement strategy. These questions include:

Is the truck racking up excessive costs? Is the truck starting to be a drain on budget and resources? For example, if maintenance costs are starting to outweigh the cost of a new truck, then replacement may be warranted for budget efficiencies. New trucks can increase productivity and energy efficiency, as well as offer lower maintenance costs.

How many years has the truck been in service,and how many hourshas the truck been running? Is the truckreaching its peak performance? Or has it run its course?If the truck is reaching the end of its lifecycle, a new model would likely be more efficient and reliable.

Was data used to determine if it’s time for a replacement? Are you basing a replacement decision on actual data or just a need — or want — for something new? In Part 2, we’ll get into more about the tools that help determine the right time for a truck replacement, but one step in the initial process is to ensure the decision is based on facts and tangible needs, not just the latest and great solution. In fact, telematics systems can provide lift truck operation data to help determine if a truck is being over- or underutilized, or if a different model would better meet the operation’s needs.

Is this truck still meeting my needs (both current and future needs)? Or would a different model with new technology better serve my warehouse? Business needs may have changed since the truck was purchased, and more modern equipment can offer advanced technology that better interfaces between the operator and application. In addition, solutions that work with telematics are often more capable for future enhancements and stability.

Do I need to purchase a new truck? Or should I consider a leasing program? Some lift truck manufacturers and their dealerships provide leasing programs, which can help keep the newest technologies and advanced offerings in a fleet. Leasing a truck can also help keep maintenance costs down, particularly if a warehouse has a short-term need for a specific truck. 

When evaluating replacement candidates, warehouse managers should work with their lift truck providers to consider each of the questions and, depending on their answers, the best solutions.

In Part 2, we’ll get into more detail about the tools available to help track and analyze facets of lift truck usage operations that can better help inform fleet replacement decisions.