New techniques in data collection can help to reduce costs in liquid-propane lift truck operations and other aspects of material handling, Stephens says. Technology can analyze, for example, whether liquid propane or electric power is the most economical option for a particular environment.
First, though, companies must be able to receive adequate data in a consistent manner. "You should not just depend on management staff to look at Web-hosted information," Stephens says. The key, she adds, "is to get the data pushed to you, and make sure it's intelligence, and not [mere] data." Only then can managers acquire useful information that can be turned into reports for corrective action.
Data can be drawn from multiple sources, depending on what a company needs to know. Currently, those sources are far from integrated. In some cases, for example, battery information might not be tied into the fast-charging system. Equipment providers are generally the best place to go for help in promoting safety and the efficient operation of equipment.
There's more information available to material-handling operations than ever before, says Stephens. The benefits of exploiting it properly include higher productivity and lower cost. "There used to be a lot of guesswork in the operation," she says. "It was thought of as a necessary evil." Today, companies have a much better idea of how to realize efficiencies in areas such as battery maintenance.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, inventory management, inventory control, warehouse management, WMS, logistics management, supply chain planning, supply chain systems
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