Imagine a world where your forklift tells you or your operator when there is a maintenance issue that needs to be addressed. Or the forklift automatically takes steps to prevent an issue from becoming more severe – and most likely, more expensive to fix.
Better yet, imagine the service technician shows up at your facility to fix your forklift before you realize there is a problem. The technician arrives understanding the issue and armed with the right part to make the repair, or a software update is delivered directly to the forklift to resolve the issue and shared with the rest of the fleet.
This is the promise greater connectivity brings to your service and maintenance programs. While we as an industry have not yet reached this point, there are major strides being made to create this connected experience.
The connected service technician
There is a growing breed of service technicians, armed with new technology and increased connectivity, that is helping make forklift service calls smarter and more proactive. They are tech savvy and eager to learn.
One of the greatest assets these connected service technicians have is the large amount of data that greater connectivity allows you to gather on your equipment, including forklift performance, operation and health.
Armed with laptops and tablets, these service techs can access that performance data and analytics to provide insight and better understanding for the service call. These tools can even be used to walk technicians through troubleshooting and the steps to fix the issue.
Connected maintenance benefits
As greater connectivity transforms the equipment service experience, you will be able to potentially realize a number of important forklift fleet maintenance benefits.
1. Reduced downtime
A connected maintenance experience enables you to reduce unplanned downtime and the mean time to repair (MTTR). Forklift performance and health data help you be more proactive about repairs and recognize symptoms before they become a larger issue. Service techs use the actionable information to come to the site prepared to address the issue with the right part, shortening MTTR.
2. Predictive maintenance
Eventually, greater connectivity will allow you to transition to a more proactive service and maintenance program. This includes using historical data to help diagnose potential causes of issues before techs arrive onsite. It also means using that historical data to understand equipment operating trends and schedule service and maintenance to anticipate and eliminate potential issues.
3. Hourly based planned maintenance
Currently, most planned maintenance schedules are based on the calendar, aligning equipment maintenance cycles and plotting quarterly, biannual or annual maintenance shutdown periods. While this method helps reduce downtime, it is often difficult to align all maintenance cycles. Armed with greater connectivity and actionable data on forklift performance, you can instead align planned maintenance schedules to the use cycle.
4. Visibility into service status
It can often be difficult to monitor progress once a work order has been issued, or find out if the issue has been resolved or follow up is needed. It can be very frustrating. A connected maintenance experience gives you greater visibility during every step of the process. Through established channels and processes, relevant information is shared, including when the tech arrived, what the issue was and how it was resolved.
Imagine designing a plan around how you actually use your forklifts. Similar to the Power-by-the-Hour leasing concept, where customers only pay for the time they used the equipment, Maintenance-by-the-Hour aligns with your business model. Maintenance costs are based on equipment utilization, and maintenance schedules adapt to peaks and valleys in the business cycle.
Greater connectivity promises to enhance and transform your maintenance and service program. Someday soon, maintaining and servicing your equipment, such as forklifts, could be as simple and manageable as having work done on your family car.
For more information on the benefits of greater connectivity in the warehouse, download Crown’s e-book Achieving Material Handling Connectivity.