Productivity is a crucial aspect of every operation. Even for low throughput applications, there’s value in being able to complete a task safer, quicker and more efficiently. As our good pal Benjamin Franklin once put it, “time is money”. And all our time is valuable, right?
So how do you pinpoint where we can improve to get some of that underutilized time back and ultimately move more product safer, faster and more efficiently? While it can be a difficult subject to generalize for every type of forklift and facility, the following list will guide you through some key areas to look into to improve your productivity levels.
It goes without saying, but using the right forklift for the job is crucially important. There are plenty of forklifts out there that can get the job done, but not all are equal in the value they can bring to your unique operation. Forklifts with shorter footprints have an easier time navigating in narrow aisles and right angle stacking, reducing the amount of time spent trying to get in and out of racking or any confined area. Faster lift/lower and travel speeds can also be beneficial for moving product faster in high throughput applications. Do your operators get on and off the truck more than 10 times an hour? You might want to consider purchasing a stand-up rider instead of a sit-down forklift. And when it comes to electric forklifts, the battery type, battery capacity, and the forklift’s voltage specifications can make a world of difference in your uptime and performance.
Operators are more productive when they are confident and have the necessary tools at their disposal to do their job well. When properly matched to the environment of use, productivity enhancing optional features such as auto-tilt levelling, fork tip lasers and cameras, and height indicators can inspire confidence by taking out some of the guess work involved in operation. Options like the rear pillar assist grip with horn button can be a great ergonomic solution, depending upon the application and environment of use. It provides a place within the operator’s compartment to put your hand during reverse travel – and it even has a conveniently placed horn button.
Something as simple as adding a sideshifter or sideshifting fork positioner can also make a world of difference in regards to productivity. Since they allow the forks to be manipulated from inside the operator’s compartment, the forks can be quickly and easily positioned to handle each load.
It is important to remember that both OSHA and the ITSDF require you to evaluate and assess your workplace environment, application of use and workplace and safety rules and procedures to determine whether your forklift should be equipped with additional accessories. Once you do, Toyota offers a wide variety of optional accessories that, depending on your individual needs, may enhance the safety or productivity of the forklift in your specific workplace and for your particular application of use. Any authorized Toyota dealer would be more than happy to answer any of your questions about Toyota forklifts and the available accessories for them.
Use the correct attachment type and model.
Not all attachments are built alike. Whether you use a clamp, rotator, sideshifter, or anything in between, make sure that its specifications and capabilities are ideal for your operation. This includes factors such as hydraulic speeds, carriage/attachment size, and visibility through the carriage just to name a few. There are also many specialized attachments that are available to help you move certain products more efficiently. Layer pickers, for example, can grab multiple layers of products at a time, reducing time and effort spent manually moving them, while single-double attachments can allow you to lift two pallets at once. It is important to remember that both ANSI and OSHA require data plates for each attachment and written approval from the forklift manufacturer for any modifications or alterations that may affect the capacity, stability or safe operation of the forklift that you may look to add down the road.
Optimize your facility’s layout and design.
If you are not already doing so regularly, take a look and gain a thorough understanding of how your operation is set up and where you can improve from the perspectives of safety, productivity and efficiency. Over time, companies may experience growth or other changes which could result in the development of new or different safe considerations and inefficiencies as new products, services, and activities show up and need to find their own home. Typically, the most convenient home for them at the time is used, which is not necessarily the most safe, practical or thoughtfully planned location. Look into how you can improve your storage methods and your racking design. Consider moving operations to where they make the most sense long-term and reduce wasted time spent transporting products and goods to their destination.
One pillar of the Toyota Production System is the concept of “Jidoka”, which empowers all employees with the ability to shut down a production line the moment that a problem or issue is discovered. This process benefits overall quality, but also is critical in fixing issues the moment they occur to prevent reoccurrence. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but when considering whether to make a change, think of the long-term impact that it is going to have on your company. What may seem like a small issue or problem now can evolve into something much bigger or more serious and become more difficult to fix later. The cost of these issues and inefficiencies over time can really start to add up.
Also, remember that you’re not alone. Toyota recommends that you consult with a safety professional familiar with your environment and application of use to assess the forklift, your workplace and application of use and safety rules to determine whether any accessories should be added to your forklift and to safely integrate it into your workplace. Your local, authorized Toyota dealer can assist you during this process. For example, if requested, your local dealer can perform a site survey to provide a number of productivity and efficiency enhancing solutions. Locate the Toyota dealer nearest you and get started on your journey today.