What is your biggest cost driver in a forklift?

What is your biggest cost driver in a forklift?

May 13, 2021 | by digital@lkda.co.za

In many operations, fuel is typically proven to be the highest operational cost in most fleet budgets. While this is true in some operations, in Goscor Lift Truck Company’s experience, it’s not – fuel is secondary to the most important cost factor in forklift ownership, which is driver cost.

There is a general school of thought that fuel costs constitute the bulk of a machine’s running costs in the logistics and materials handling industry. While this is largely true in some of the operations, John Valentine, national systems manager at Goscor Lift Truck Company (GLTC), asserts that it is a completely different scenario in GLTC’s experience. “In our experience, cost of fuel is ancillary to the most important cost driver in forklift ownership – driver cost,” he says.

Outside of the lift truck itself, Valentine says the driver/operator is in fact the biggest cost as far as the ownership of a forklift is concerned, but also potentially the biggest saving. “Firstly, there is the cost of recruitment, driver training, uniform and the necessary PPE – that’s actually before the real work starts. Then there is the ongoing cost of checklist books, salaries or wages, bonuses, refresher training every two years and a myriad of other operator improvement related costs,” explains Valentine.

Not so easy to calculate are the hidden costs of drivers/operators, namely labour unrest, damages to machine/racking/product and health & safety violation – the list goes on. By all accounts, these translate into a far greater cost than fuel on average.

Potential saving

On the other hand, having a driver doing exactly what they were trained to do is potentially a significant saving. “This translates into increased productive machine hours, lower fuel costs, lower abuse-related costs and an extended machine lifecycle in general,” says Valentine, adding that this of course largely depends on the right attitude – backed by suitable controls.

Valentine advises that one of the most important elements in this regard is practising Ignition Controls. Simply turning the machine off when not in use as opposed to leaving it idling unnecessarily, averts unnecessary burning of fuel or battery drainage. “I believe that investing in driver skills turns an onerous disciplinary task into one that rewards the much needed correct behaviours,” he says.

He, however, reasons that the downside is that while fleet owners expect the best out of their operators/drivers, they often don’t want the additional management time that comes with the necessary interventions. This is why GLTC invests significantly in Forklift Management Devices. “When used correctly, devices – such as the Goscor Fleet Management Systems – help create professional driver behaviour through the provision of valuable insights,” he says.  Furthermore, the easy-to-read data from these devices is sent directly to the machine owner, allowing them to have all the operational metrics right at their fingertips. “These systems analyse driver behaviour and generate easy-to-read reports that allow for identification of potential areas for improvement,” adds Valentine.

“GLTC not only promotes, fits and uses such devices, we actively analyse the data, thereby enhancing our service to customers and ultimately reduce their operational costs. With GLTC, it’s not simply about buying a machine from a reputable dealer – we regard it as purchasing a lifetime partnership and commitment from a trusted solutions provider,” concludes Valentine.