Does it seem like downtime is a recurrent issue for your fleet? Are your forklifts constantly in need of maintenance? Your fleet may be overutilized. Do you have lift trucks that sit idle for weeks? Recapturing that capital by reducing your fleet size could result in significant savings. The only way to know for certain is to keep track of your fleet’s utilization rate.
How to Track Fleet Utilization Rate
Tracking fleet utilization doesn’t have to require complex formulas and manually drafted fleet utilization logs or reports. With the help of telematics software, like Hyster Tracker, a fleet manager can keep track of the fleet utilization rate automatically. Monitoring the utilization information available and acting on it can help fleet managers use assets efficiently and control costs like equipment wear and tear.
Fleet utilization should be calculated in a few different ways to provide the most accurate and helpful information. Fleet managers will want to view usage by hours in a shift, shifts per day, and days per week. For example, a warehouse forklift that operates during two 8-hour shifts, six days per week, would be expressed as having 96 hours per week as 100% utilization. That metric gives a snapshot for a period of time.
Hyster Tracker telematics make it easy to view key performance metrics for your fleet, individual trucks, or location at the push of a button. The Usage Tracking component generates based on the hour meter but can be set to user-specified intervals whether that’s a specific shift, day, or other time period.
Don’t Forget to Look for Outliers
Even if overall fleet utilization looks great, fleet managers should keep an eye on outliers. A shift or a day where one forklift is used more than others is fine, but if it’s a pattern, it should be addressed.
Here’s an example: a fleet of 25 forklifts operating at 60% utilization—this means the average utilization is around 60%. Two lift trucks in the fleet are outliers. One has an average utilization rate of 107% while the other is only being used 7%. This scenario warrants investigation.
The two lift trucks might do the same job, or they may have completely different functions. Operators might favor the unit with 107% because the seat feels nicer, it is a newer lift, or it performs better. The other lift may have mechanical issues, might have a seat that is too worn, or it’s a sluggish performer.
Peak vs Off-Peak Utilization
Is your business seasonal? Fleet managers should look at fleet utilization during both peak and off-peak seasons to determine the right size fleet during both time periods. You don’t necessarily want a fleet fit for peak season if that’s only a few weeks each year. In that case, it’s typically more cost effective to have the appropriate number of lift trucks for your off-peak season and to supplement with rental equipment during the peak period.
What Utilization Rate Should Fleet Managers Aim For?
Achieving a 100% utilization rate for a fleet on an ongoing basis would be ideal, but that’s not realistic. A fleet manager should think of fleet utilization rate as a metric to continually improve on rather than a specific number to hit. The first step is figuring out what your current utilization actually is and knowing if you can conduct business operations acceptably with the current configuration or not.
How to Improve Your Fleet Utilization Rate
There’s no one-size-fits all solution to improving your fleet utilization rate. The fix really depends on the problem. If your entire fleet is overworked, it’s time to add a new forklift or two to your operation. If you have one lift truck that no one drives but your fleet utilization rate is generally good, it might be time to retire that lift truck or investigate why it’s not being operated. If your fleet utilization rate great during peak season but extremely low most of the year it might be time to sell some of your fleet to regain some of that capital.
The equipment experts at Papé Material Handling are here to help you achieve maximum efficiency by determining the right solutions for your business need. Let us help you right size your fleet. Contact your nearest dealership location to learn more.