Where facility managers are focusing their attention in 2019

The end of a year is a great time to look back and identify your company’s wins and losses. Chances are, you’ve experienced some of both.

For those times when your operation didn’t flow as smoothly as you would like, whether this was due to poorly planned workflows, growing pains during an expansion or merger, or unplanned downtime from equipment issues, it’s important to pinpoint ways to improve your operation moving forward.

Here are a few smart ways that facility managers hope to better their companies in the coming year:

Improving productivity through equipment replacements

Identifying the cause of unplanned downtime is obviously the best step toward preventing it in the future. Luckily, only 2 percent of respondents to a Plant Engineering survey said they didn’t know what their leading cause of unexpected downtime was.

The most common answer was aging equipment, with 42 percent of respondents indicating that this was the leading reason their operations experience unscheduled downtime. Facility managers are taking this trend to heart. About 60 percent said they plan to upgrade equipment in the coming year as a way to reduce unplanned downtime.

Aside from improving productivity, investing in new equipment can benefit an operation in other ways. Newer models could mean modern features that support greater insight into equipment challenges and issues within the warehouse. Some may also have updated safety features, such as a dock leveler with an push-button interlocking system.

When investing in new equipment, it’s important to make the decision strategically. Working with Miner can help facility managers identify their specific needs, and Miner’s material handling experts can point out the equipment that would best address those concerns.

Increased spending on materials handling equipment

Of the 42 percent of respondents to a Logistics Management and Modern Materials Handling survey who planned to investment in equipment in 2018, nearly two-thirds said they would focus on material handling equipment. This is a broad category, but most specifically, facility managers have their sights set on forklifts, warehouse management systems and conveyors and sortation systems. These assets highlight the rapid shift to fast and frequent fulfillment demands. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they have a direct-to-consumer e-commerce distribution model.

Many respondents also stated that multichannel fulfillment capabilities are very important today, and even more said they’ll be very important in the coming years. Facility managers who prepare for the future of e-commerce should consider the benefits of investing in valuable equipment now to support a smoother shift in processes down the line.

Investing in forklifts

Forklifts especially are among the top equipment investment priorities of many survey respondents. In addition to the shift toward more robust operations that can handle the demands of e-commerce, forklift investments are changing today as increasing numbers of facilities replace their propane models with electric, which are better suited for indoor environments like warehouses and distribution centers.

North American electric forklift sales are expected to reach more than 47,000 units by 2025, according to a report from Navigant Research. This is up from the estimated 10,000 sold in 2016.

As electric forklifts become more prominent throughout warehouses and distribution centers, facility managers will have to invest in the infrastructure to support them. They’ll have to allocate space for charging stations and storage areas, as well as outfit these spaces with the right safety and personal protective equipment.

Certain health and safety concerns go away when a facility shifts from propane or natural gas forklifts to electric or fuel cell lift trucks, such as carbon monoxide poisoning and improperly stored fuel. But  electric power has its own risks to manage, such as fire hazards and chemical spills around the battery charging station. Facility managers must always be prepared with water to neutralize spills, eyewash stations, and fire extinguishers, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Increased spending on staffing or labor

More than half of respondents to Logistics Management’s survey said they plan to increase staffing or labor in the near term. This could be a reflection of the growing demand for workers in warehouses and distribution centers, but it could also be the result of a need for greater in-house equipment maintenance professionals.

While it’s important to have the right employees at your facility, there are many different ways to take care of maintenance throughout your operation. When you partner with Miner, you can count on a trained professional to review your equipment and address any maintenance needs in a timely manner. This will save your company time and money while increasing productivity and safety. To get a complimentary consultation or a quote, reach out to Miner today.