Choosing the right fork

Choosing the right fork

Altech Netstar understands fleet solutions. That’s why it’s leading the way in bringing fleet management to an entirely new and untapped market: material handling.

The logistics of moving goods is complicated and far-reaching. From docks and containers to trucks, warehouses and forklifts, the more efficient each step becomes, the better. Cost effectiveness across the overall supply chain is key.

Effective fleet management requires well-monitored and efficient vehicles, and Altech Netstar has already built a solid reputation in this market segment. Now, the company has found a way of improving warehouse efficiency as well – through its Vigil product for forklifts.

“Many of our existing fleet management clients operate haulers as well as loading equipment; but while they have management solutions for their truck fleets, the same technology has not been used in their material-handling vehicles,” explains Barry Groenewald, design and development manager at Altech Netstar. “We recognised this gap in the market and have adjusted our Vigil fleet management product to suit the forklift industry.”

Essentially, Vigil Forklift is based on Altech Netstar’s successful Vigil fleet management range, but with a few tweaks that make it better suited to this new application. “This is the fastest we have ever introduced a new product to the market, which was made possible by the fact that Vigil Forklift is based on an existing product,” says Groenewald. “We’ve had to make minimal adjustments, but only during the trial phase. It has shown itself to be a very practical product for both forklift original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), leasing companies and operators.”

The difference between Vigil Forklift and other more traditional fleet management systems is that Altech Netstar’s new product takes into account the specific nature of operating within a warehouse. “Because forklifts do most of their work in warehouses, GPS systems aren’t suitable because they have no clear access to the sky and satellites,” Groenewald explains. “While this would be highly problematic for a telematics system on a truck, it’s not the most important factor when managing forklift operators.”

According to Groenewald, while forklift operators obviously don’t need to track their warehouse-bound forklifts, what they do need to know is how many hours of a monthly lease the forklift has already operated; which forklifts have accumulated more hours than others; the idle time of each forklift as compared to active time; and any minor “incidents” each forklift may have encountered while working.

“Our product offers clients a graphic representation of what’s happening to their forklifts,” he explains. “Operators can see which drivers are profficient workers and which are not; who is prone to bumping into pallets or crates and who is a careful driver. Most importantly, they can monitor which forklifts are nearing their monthly hour quotas and which are being underutilised.”

Monitoring monthly hour quotas is extremely important: not only for the operator, but for the leasing company as well. “Operators who can track the hours each forklift has accumulated can spread the load between the fleet. This helps them avoid the penalties of exceeding the monthly hours agreed upon in the lease,” elaborates Groenewald. “For the OEMs, a fleet of forklifts with equally loaded hours can be more easily maintained. For example, part of the lease agreement demands that the bonnet be lifted daily for inspection. The Vigil Forklift programme allows operators to ensure their drivers or managers are doing the inspections, while also providing proof for OEMs.”

Altech Netstar has developed its forklift-suitable programme primarily by making adjustments to the software and dashboard. Vigil Forklift is a highly graphic system, with an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand interface – and reports that offer pertinent information at a glance. Best of all, for operators already using Altech Netstar’s Vigil system on their truck fleets, Vigil Forklift can be fully integrated into their overall fleet management system.

Features
• Instant accurate hour management
• Automatic cost management
• Impact sensor
• Daily checks
• Driver identification and customised driver scoring system
• Speed zones
• Keep-in and no-go zones
• Points of interest
• Reduce engine over heating
• Reduce engine low oil pressure
• Battery status monitoring and disconnect notification
• Logs and stores information at one minute intervals
• Over 20 management reports
• Reminder listings
• SMS and e-mail notification

Benefits
• Instant, accurate hour management
• Running costs automatically calculated
• Reduce forklift abuse
• Reduce driver abuse
• Improve driver behaviour
• Optimise utilisation

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