A forklift truck is a vital tool, and significant investment, that should be regularly maintained and productively managed across the whole life of a truck. But how many businesses fall short? Ross Farquhar, strategic planning manager at Rushlift, investigates...
How important to your business is your forklift truck fleet? Across a broad swathe of industrial and commercial concerns the forklift truck fleet is a key enabler, responsible for the smooth movement of goods between manufacturing processes, through warehouses, and onto vehicles – an absolute necessity for the competitive performance and financial wellbeing of the business.
And yet, how well planned, maintained and managed is the average fleet? How sophisticated is the analysis of vehicle usage data – is utilisation evenly spread across the fleet? What are the damage trends and causes? And is servicing being regularly carried out? Up-time for each and every vehicle is critically important. Breakdowns or failures of any description, whether they are due to mechanical issues or problems of compliance, can result in lost production, poor performance, delays and unhappy customers.
Reducing risk, controlling costs and ensuring productivity requires attention to detail – and some applied knowledge. Monitoring every aspect of the fleet should be an on-going process, controlled and managed by specialists that understand the importance of regular servicing, damage control, compliance issues and cost analysis. A forklift truck fleet, of any size, is a significant investment that should be appropriately assigned to the tasks at hand, efficiently put to good use, regularly maintained and managed productively across the whole life of a contract.
At Rushlift, a wholly owned subsidiary of Doosan Industrial Vehicles, we work closely with the fleet owner over the entire length of the contract, to maximise the overall performance of the fleet: from specifying and recommending the most appropriate trucks for the duties to be performed – and that means providing the best truck for the job, whatever the make – to providing full, regular servicing, fast breakdown call-out, and on-site meetings to review fleet performance.
Specifying the best truck for the task is a core focus for Rushlift, as we are primarily concerned with providing solutions that work best for the fleet owner over the entire life of the truck. Of course, Doosan have an extensive range of forklift trucks of over 200 models of counterbalance, reach and warehouse trucks, with capacities spanning 1.3 tonne right up to 25 tonne, over power sources of electric, gas and diesel, so there is every reason that a market leading Doosan truck would be, in many instances, best suited for the job. However, we are also able to provide any other piece equipment that is required for the job, regardless of the manufacturer.
But it’s important to stress that Rushlift is not constrained to source from a single supplier – far from it. A recent example is Weir Minerals, where Rushlift supplied 55 vehicles to the heavy engineering business. A critical consideration in selecting Rushlift was our ability to provide any truck that Weir Minerals required and that included Genie scissor lift and cherry pickers, a Hoist compact gas counterbalance truck, Jungheinrich VNA trucks and a JCB Telehandler.
Forklift trucks not only need to be designed and built to be easily serviced, as with the Doosan range, but the service support network must be highly responsive. Rushlift has service centres located strategically across the UK and over 130 highly qualified field engineers on the road at any one time, enabling the company to issue a guarantee that an engineer will be on site within 4 hours. And underscoring our on-going commitment to service, Rushlift has just introduced a fleet of 90 brand new service vans, fully kitted out and replenished every night with parts by an in-the-night courier service.
Illustrating the importance that businesses place on service support excellence, Fraser Boyd, Transport Operations Manager at Buildbase – one of the UK’s fastest growing builders merchants with more than 165 branches nationwide – commented: “Ensuring the uptime of our forklift trucks is absolutely essential to the efficient running of our sites. So having reliable and fast service back-up and support, across all our sites, requires a service organisation that can provide nationwide coverage – even to really outlying areas such as the Highlands and the Shetland Islands.
“Rushlift accommodate all our service requirements. With any breakdowns or servicing needs they just make it happen, which takes a big burden off of our shoulders.”
Of course, fast and easy access to parts is a fundamental support function – waiting for parts to arrive from a distant European parts store can cause delay and increase down time. However, Rushlift’s UK Parts Distribution Centre in Northampton carries in excess of £1.2 million worth of stock for next-day delivery. With a 4.30pm cut-off for orders – one of the latest in the industry – Rushlift customers get the best possible support, all from within the UK.
Important too, is Rushlift’s Fleet Management System, which is provided free of charge to all customers. The online platform enables customers to access up-to-the-moment information on their forklift truck fleet, log breakdowns on a 24/7 basis and access maintenance records, account details and other vital information. Importantly, live data is fed through the engineer’s tablet making site visits simpler, with all maintenance records updated in real-time.
Above all else, Rushlift is a sales and service-oriented business. By looking strategically across the length of the contract, we are able to deliver extended value. From analysing the usage of individual trucks we can make recommendations that may save significant costs, whilst improving operational performance.
An example of this can be seen at Hydrobolt, a leading specialist manufacturer of fasteners for the construction and heavy engineering industries.
When the contract on their forklift truck fleet came up for review Rushlift identified the potential to rationalise the fleet by replacing their fleet with a highly versatile 4.5 tonne Doosan gas truck, the G45SC. The new Doosan G45SC was capable of working both within the facility and, as it had a lower cab specially fitted, was suited to unloading containers as well.
“Having just one truck that can be used in our transport area inside and for both yard duties and unloading containers, meant that we could take a truck out, which was quite a big cost saving,” says Ian Butler, Operations Director at Hydrobolt.
Rushlift also recommended and supplied two Combilifts for Hydrobolt’s steel bar store, demonstrating versatility in providing a complete handling solution.
Service support is everything, as Ian Butler says: “In running a manufacturing business where product quality and lead-times are critical, you need reliable handling equipment. So for me, it’s all about the service support and I can’t emphasise enough the fantastic level of support we’ve had from Rushlift.”