Vehicle management systems, or VMS, are designed for those assets in the distribution center or manufacturing plant that are high in value, costly to maintain and which can cause tremendous damage and injury (or worse) if they fall into the wrong hands.
And that, says Ehrman, can easily happen. "Unless you have operators walking around with a few hundred keys in their pockets, inevitably they are left in the trucks, so anyone can use them."
The VHS device, linked to the ignition of the trucks, works much like an identification badge to get in a door; you have to swipe the ID to get into truck. If you are authorized - and trained to use the equipment - the system will permit you to operate it once an OSHA checklist has been satisfied.
That safety check includes such things as testing the brakes to ensure that they function properly. Should a truck fail an inspection, the VHS is designed to shut the equipment down. That's no academic exercise, Ehrman says. There is no accountability when keys are left in forklifts or similar equipment. He says improperly operated industrial vehicles are second only to highway accidents in causing deaths. "You have to know that only the right people are using them."
Noting that companies made painful cuts in labor forces and in capital investment during the recession, Ehrman says it's important to maximize productivity of remaining assets now that business is beginning to rebound. That means existing equipment must be used more efficiently. Yet that is hardly the case in most environments, he says.
Not only does the VMS perform safety checks, it notifies a central database when and how long an operator is logged in, how much time is spent traveling in a DC or warehouse and how much of that time actually involves moving a load. On average, Ehrman says, employees are paid for eight hours a day but are logged in only four. Of that, two hours are spent in motion. And, cumulatively, there is only one hour of load time.
"If you can increase the log-in time from four hours to six, you increase your productivity by 50 percent. If you're not getting a return on your investment in two to three months, then you're really not using the data."
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Keywords: Warehouse Logistics, HR & Labor Management, Quality & Metrics, Global Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Industrial Accidents, OSHA Safety Regulations, Industrial Equipment Operator Safety, Warehouse Equipment Productivity
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