This is a guest post from David Holland, one of our technicians at CFE Equipment.
Running a warehouse is a complex and expensive proposition. The list of expenses includes personnel, facilities, equipment, utilities and many more. Every aspect and every minute of the day to day operations have an effect on the bottom line. One small problem in your workflow can cascade to a complete and total shutdown. One of the most likely causes of a total stoppage is a failure of your material handling equipment. A vital piece of logistics equipment in a non-functional state is disastrous.
Forklifts, stackers, pickers and pallet jacks are a necessity for any warehouse of any size. In smaller warehouses, managing the fleet becomes much trickier. You must balance a minimal fleet size with the need to have it constantly in service. Purchasing only one forklift will save you money on your startup costs, but what happens when that forklift breaks down? Most of us have more than one family car, that way we will have a backup plan if we need to place that vehicle in the shop for repairs. The same concept applies in warehouse management.
With so many different types of forklifts, which contain thousands of individual parts, it is difficult for any single local dealer to stock every single piece of every single forklift. This can inevitably lead to a situation, in which a vital piece of equipment will be out of service for a few days while waiting for a part to arrive. This scenario can be disastrous on the scheduling of a warehouse, as it creates a combination of wasted man hours and then an excessive workload once the equipment has returned to service. In total it can lead to greater loss by way of being unable to meet customer demands and paying workers overtime to catch up.
Working as a partner with your local equipment dealer is critical to planning in advance for these downtime scenarios. They can recommend the right fleet size and provide rental options to scale your overall fleet, no matter your warehouse size. When a necessary piece of equipment goes down, the implications are far reaching. As a technician, I have seen this scenario countless times, and the cost of being either shut down or operating at a limited capacity will quickly outweigh the cost of having additional forklift(s) ready at a moments notice. I will not address exact numbers, as each operation is as unique as a fingerprint; however, with a full understanding of your costs, I believe a short bit of math will confirm this general rule-of-thumb in your particular scenario.
Thank you, and I wish you much success in your current and future endeavors.