Five metrics that matter

July 1, 2014

When choosing lift trucks, look at the metrics that matter. Don’t spend time comparing specs that will make little or no difference in your application.

Operations managers know the importance of measuring performance. The challenge lies in capturing all facets of excellent performance in a simple set of numbers. Nothing is more frustrating than being measured on a number that doesn’t capture what truly matters to your customer.

When choosing lift trucks, look at the metrics that matter. Don’t spend time comparing specs that will make little or no difference in your application. Compare the specs that will make the difference to your efficiency and productivity. Here are five things to consider:

  1. The need for speed — Maximum speed comes into play if you are making very long runs. On the other hand, if you have a lot of stops for pickup or delivery, or if your lift trucks frequently stop at intersections, then excellent acceleration and braking might do more to shorten your real travel time.
  2. Plan for maintenance — Nothing lasts forever, so consider the time that may be required for service. Think about regular wear items, like tires, as well as major components that will require infrequent service, like the lift truck mast. A product with a lower upfront cost could negatively affect your bottom line with long-term service costs.
  3. Take a stand — If an operator is moving work in progress (WIP) from one station to another, he or she has to exit the lift truck to inspect or count product or scan traveling papers. A truck operated in the standing position, such as stand-up counterbalanced lift trucks, saves time due to quicker and easier truck entry and exit, compared with a sit-down truck. Stand-up trucks may cost a little more up front, but over the working life of the truck, the operator’s pay accounts for 72 percent or more of total costs. Investing in the best tool saves on lifetime costs.
  4. The right stuff — Think of the weight difference between an old electric typewriter and a modern laptop, or steel armor versus Kevlar® fiber. The newer solution is lighter because steel isn’t the best choice for the application. Lift trucks that use modern materials like elastopolymers can put more power where it counts — moving the pallet — since they’re using less power to move the truck. Better use of energy means more pallets moved per battery charge, which is a better use of your payroll.
  5. Be honest — Are you really going to pull your lift trucks out of operation to do regular maintenance? Walk out on the floor and check your maintenance records. Better yet, walk through a routine maintenance checklist point by point with your team. If your fast-paced operation will have difficulty taking the truck out of service for routine maintenance, consider low-maintenance options like greaseless bushings. Scheduled service that you don’t perform is a sneaky hidden cost you’ll never plan for in any budget, but it will cost real dollars when components fail for lack of maintenance.

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