Distributor brings maintenance costs and operator behavior under control

Cloud-based, real-time fleet management system reduces the frequency and severity of impacts, cutting maintenance costs by 11%.
By · February 08, 2018

Established in 1955, DW Distribution is a family-owned and operated two-step wholesale distributor of building materials serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico markets. The company’s millwork distribution center in Texas is a 425,000-square-foot campus stocking millwork products and manufacturer door units. To take control of the ballooning maintenance costs of the facility’s lift truck fleet, the company deployed a Cloud-based, real-time maintenance management solution.

The company’s four combination lifts, four side loaders and 27 forklifts operate on two shifts, five days a week. Maintenance and equipment repair costs were higher than industry expectations, higher than the other DW locations and higher than historical costs. Managers also noticed the escalation in costs went hand in hand with an increase in employee turnover.

DW had previously deployed a maintenance tracking system that required review and analysis of data after repairs were completed. The new Cloud-based solution (TotalTrax) provides nearly real-time data and tools for managing operator performance.

One third of the fleet was fitted with devices to log operator certifications, perform electronic vehicle checklists, track impacts and record on-time, run time and “running under load” time. DW’s forklift technicians installed the equipment and certified and trained employees before the supplier configured the equipment, ensured compatibility with firewalls, and set up the dashboards and reporting.

The system recorded 600 impacts in the first month of use, 450 in the second month and 250 in the third month. The severity of the impacts also decreased 25% over that time. Year-over-year, product damage is down 20%. Forklift maintenance and repair costs are down 11% and building damage is down 5%. Operator behaviors have changed and costs are coming back in line with expectations.

“It worked very, very well for changing operator behaviors,” says Steve Schriner, vice president of operations for DW Distribution. “The first few months helped re-educate all the workers about impacts, and they came down dramatically.”

As an added benefit, Schriner says the system identified mismatches between equipment and application. “We were using 5,000-pound lifts,” he says, “where we should have been using 7,000-pound equipment, and the system helped point that out.”

Based on the results already achieved, DW has accelerated what had been a three-year deployment plan into a single year. DW will also be adding advanced reporting software features. Schriner is also using utilization and productivity capabilities, along with load detection, to identify opportunities for optimizing forklift and operator resources in cycles of continuous improvement.

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.