Turning fleet information into financial savings

The Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center prints, inserts and distributes more than 40 different publications, which makes it a busy production operation with the need to store and move materials as part of completing print jobs.

The Freedom Center facility contains five floors of activity, from inbound-outbound docks for both trucks and rail, raw materials and finished goods warehousing, printing, inserting and packaging, and distribution. To support the warehousing and transport of pallets of materials and finished goods, a combination of LPG and electric lift trucks are used. Much of the fleet consists of four-wheeled, sit-down, counterbalanced trucks (Crown).

The facility contains a multi-floor warehousing, printing and inserting application operating within very restricted spaces. The narrow aisles and busy floor-level operations present challenges for forklift operators. Impacts can easily result in significant damage to products and assets, so the Chicago Tribune wanted to proactively monitor impacts so immediate action can be taken to address an unsafe act or action when an impact occurs.

The company wanted to be as responsive as possible while working to reduce impacts and learn more about how its trucks and operators were being used. To support this goal, the company implemented a telematics and fleet management system (Crown) on every truck in its fleet.

Operators now document pre-shift inspections electronically. Each lift truck is configured with an impact threshold and fleet managers receive an immediate alert when an impact occurs. With a reliable monitoring system in place, fleet managers can now quickly address impacts and coach operators on proper lift truck operation.

This has resulted in a 30% reduction in impacts, with corresponding decreases in damage and injuries. The InfoLink system provides fleet managers with utilization data for lift trucks and operators, which has proven valuable in making production and staffing decisions.

According to Jon Healy, a receiving team lead for the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing operation, the telematics system provides more control over the fleet and fleet safety. The system provides a digital safety checklist for operators when they log into the trucks, and the software for the system provides insight on how the assets get used. Impact incidents are tracked, not only to coach operators, but to eliminate any unsafe conditions where an impact occurred.

“Since we’ve been tracking [our fleet] with InfoLink, there has been a reduction in impacts, we are down probably 30%,” says Healy. “That is significant [savings in terms of] property damage, damage to the equipment, and also any injuries.”

What’s more, the system’s reports and metrics also help managers make informed staffing and production decisions. “We absolutely have more control with InfoLink,” says Healy. “That information is vital for [us] to make decisions about the future.”

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