By Jeff Reynolds
Many facility leaders think they already have a planned maintenance program in place, yet they neglect to drive data-informed change when it comes to proactive maintenance. In my decades of experience working with facility owners and managers, I’ve seen this play out time and again. This approach is like getting a bank statement at the end of the month that gets looked at once, then shredded. Without a clear strategy of integrating data into your proactive maintenance, you just aren’t able to see the forest through the trees—the trending health, battery capacity, or other important metrics that should ultimately be driving your maintenance decisions and investments.
Over the past few decades the challenges of our industry, like so many others, have changed drastically. There’s a huge missed opportunity here—the chance to examine and leverage the power of emergent technology and data to improve your business.
For example, by comparing the data from your forklift batteries, you can turn that information into tangible value via increases in usage and uptime. More strategic and data-driven maintenance across all areas of your facility can save significant time, money, and the headaches associated with past mistakes. After years in the trenches of the facility business, I’m a firm believer that better decisions begin with better data to inform them.
Once you’ve collected the relevant data on your equipment, you start the even more important step of understanding what decisions to make as a result. The best proactive maintenance programs go beyond recording tons of data—they digitize and record information that can be built upon and help to explain trends from past to present. With this information, you’ll have a better idea of how to maintain your equipment and provide effective, reliable, long-lasting power as the foundation. Without these insights, frankly, your facility is stuck in the past.
In my experience supporting power management for some of the nation’s largest facilities, here are the lessons I’ve learned when it comes to incorporating data management into your battery maintenance strategy:
1. Don’t Have Data Just For The Sake Of Data.
Data is only useful if we are able to understand what it’s trying to tell us and make informed decisions as a result. When tracking data, make sure there’s an action item associated with the data you’re tracking. Your service providers should be able to tell you what they’re working on with the data they have so you can have some peace of mind.
2. Don’t Perform A Service And Disappear.
No one likes to be ghosted, and your facility is no exception. Keeping a thorough record of services and using them to inform next steps is an important part of running a successful facility without costly accidents or faulty forklift equipment. Ensure there’s a follow-up report where you can see how services compare to prior services, what action items will extend your battery lifetime, and the practicality of future services.
3. Find The Data Points That Work For You.
It’s important to hone in on the data points that tell you what you truly need to know – the ones that are relevant to your facility’s specific needs. As you improve your data strategy, that information will improve your operations and processes. One good place to start is noting how many times you have to plug in forklift batteries to ensure they’re fully charged. Doing this excessively can create waste, but dealing with undercharged batteries could also pose an issue. By tracking this specific point, you can decide the best practices for your specific needs.
As you begin to improve your fleet, you may start to look for ways to cut costs without sacrificing performance. An often overlooked opportunity comes from the fact that material handling maintenance and power make up 70% of a forklift’s total cost, making it a wise improvement area to lower costs in the long run. The bottom line? Updating your proactive maintenance strategy to include the power of data can vastly improve safety metrics, efficiency, equipment life cycles—not to mention your bottom line.
Reynolds is Regional Director of Operations at Concentric, an OnPoint Group company and provider of DC power management and on-site maintenance for the material handling and critical power industries.