Barloworld Handling Top 10 Tips for Handling the Credit Crunch

Now is the time to sharpen up business practices, reduce costs and be as efficient as possible. With forklift trucks being a direct cost to many businesses, how can a company make a difference to the bottom line in the current climate? Mark Ward, UK Commercial Asset Manager at Barloworld Handling provides some top forklift tips.

1) Assess the Operation and Ask Questions. Don't assume that what you have always done for handling materials is right. Can one forklift do the job of two? For example, a higher capacity truck with a double pallet attachment may help reduce costs. A complete site survey and practical advice on where savings could be made are available from Barloworld. For warehouse operations, additional tools such as Hyster's simulation software can test different fleet options to identify output and cost before making any investment.

2) Stay Flexible. Are all your trucks being used to their fullest all year around? Many companies are reducing their fleet size for standard operations and boosting capacity during peak periods with short term hire equipment. Although the daily hire costs increase, annual savings can be made, as the equipment is paid for only when needed. Maintenance and servicing costs are also minimised, as the fleet is reduced.

3) Prevention is Better Than Cure. Regular maintenance of equipment prevents potential damage caused by wear and helps to minimise repair costs. More importantly, the associated risk and cost to the business of unforeseen downtime is reduced as a result of proper servicing.

4) Consider Used Equipment. Many companies that use forklifts extensively prefer to buy new, but is it really necessary for all applications? Barloworld has an extensive range of quality ex-rental used trucks available for sale at a fraction of the price when new. All trucks are serviced, re-sprayed, brought up to a written 'QUE' quality standard and include a certificate of Thorough Examination, providing great value for money and peace of mind.

5) Be Energy Efficient. Energy efficiency isn't just good for the environment; it can be more cost effective. For example, for electric fleets, Barloworld's Total Battery Management solution can reduce charging time, cost and maximise the truck's performance during a shift. Also, drivers often dismount from their vehicle and, in the case of engine powered trucks, may leave the engine running for several minutes. To ensure that idle trucks do not waste fuel, engine cut out systems, which sense the driver's absence, are often installed.

6) Manage Your Fleet. Fleet management and analysis can help make informed decisions, save resources and reduce costs. By continuously monitoring performance against agreed benchmarks, Barloworld identifies areas for improvement and recommends additional cost saving solutions.

7) Know the Importance of Driver Training. As well as being a legal obligation, driver training contributes to the overall efficiency of an operation. A well trained driver performs operations quickly and efficiently and feels more valued by the company, which boosts morale and encourages a strong work ethic. Accidents resulting in damage to trucks and stock are also minimised, reducing the expenditure on repairs, parts and product write downs. Impact sensing equipment can be installed to trucks to identify causes of accidents and help reduce damage.

8) Make the Correct Tyre Selection. Tyres are engineered to match specific tasks, so a fleet, site and application assessment is vital before selecting tyres. Investing in a slower wearing tyre for example, could save money in the long run as replacements would be required less frequently. Also tyres with a lower rolling resistance can help reduce fuel costs.

9) Research Financial Options. Contract hire, operating lease and finance lease and off balance sheet funding..... What is the best option? Not all quotes are like for like, so get good advice about financial decisions that suit your business. Barloworld offers advice on different finance plans that reduce working capital, offer flexibility and reduce business risk.

10) Select your Supplier Sensibly. Remember that materials handling equipment costs are not just about the monthly rental. The majority of cost is tied up in the driver, fuel, maintenance and associated running costs. So choose a supplier that provides a total solution, without hidden costs, to keep your operation moving.