Where most people perhaps tend to think of AI-powered FSS products as simply smart dash cams that help detect and prevent accidents, the new breed of cloud-connected FSS aim to go much further in assisting drivers, inspectors, trainers and managers to speed up critical but often productivity-inhibiting tasks.
An FSS like the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System, for example, which includes cloud-connected features, as well as an interconnected mobile app, means inspection, maintenance and training data can be collected and entered at the vehicle and instantly stored in the cloud as reports. An inspection can literally be performed, verified and stored in just a few minutes.
And, while faster inspection processes alone are certainly desirable, there are several other key components to performing a proper vehicle inspection where the cloud brings additional benefits to the process: Think faster and better.
Ownership and Responsibility
Who actually performs the inspection? Do you let your drivers inspect their own vehicles at the beginning of every shift? Do you have a dedicated person whose task is to inspect each vehicle? It may be that you have a separate person because some of the inspection tasks require specific domain knowledge or accreditation.
Logging into the VIA Mobile360 WorkX app to fill out an inspection report means all submitted reports are tied to an authenticated identity. This means there is no question regarding who takes ownership for performing the inspection. For some businesses that might even create a time-saving opportunity where drivers, with just a few taps in their app, perform a more cursory daily inspection and a dedicated inspector does a weekly deeper dive on specific equipment inspection requirements.
When was the report completed? The tardy employee who dives into their vehicle to make up for lost time or at the urgent behest of their manager, both thinking they’ll do the required inspection “later”, presents a material risk to themselves and business objectives if the equipment breaks down, or worse, an injury is suffered.
Time-stamped report submissions encourage staff and management to follow the rules and policies even when their job pressures might be telling them otherwise. Finding time-stamped reports for specific time periods is also much faster and simpler for back office staff.
Quality and Thoroughness
There will probably always be a subjective element to most types of equipment and vehicle inspection but when you’ve locked in who’s responsible for doing it, and the inspection criteria, you’ll find the quality will improve.
With a clipboard and paper form a hasty inspector might forget to tick off the “brake light function inspected” box. With the WorkX mobile app the form needs to have all “required” fields entered to even be able to submit the inspection. There won’t be any post equipment failure excuses about having “forgotten” to perform a required inspection item. An app improves the quality of the inspection but also puts that quality of inspection report item squarely on the shoulders of those deemed responsible.
Raising the Standard
Deciding what criteria best go into a proper inspection for your vehicles and equipment is probably a mix of industry, insurance company, equipment manufacturer, government laws, regulations, and guidelines. In the US, for example, forklift safety and training fall under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and equipment brands have their own manuals, maintenance, inspection, and training recommendations.
The VIA Mobile360 WorkX Connect Cloud includes an inspection report template based on OSHA guidelines, but also has the ability to customize reports to your own specific needs. You’ll be able to create inspections that maximize safety for your specific environment and equipment, meet government standards, satisfy insurance companies and give employees the peace of mind of knowing their daily tools are being well looked after and cared for.
The Back Office Advantage
There’s a really high chance that your office staff are already reaping the benefits of cloud-based SAS-type services in their daily work. They’re familiar with the time-saving benefits that document control and sleek workflows that CRMs, scheduling, accounting and inventory management software bring to the table. Bringing inspection, maintenance and training workflows into 21st century cloud-based software solutions is a natural fit for these team members.
Reports in the cloud can be customized and modified, but the data can also be presented and analyzed in ways that make back office teams’ lives faster and simpler. If equipment is breaking down, perhaps an adjustment to certain report criteria or frequency needs to be made. If OSHA or your insurance company introduces a new guideline or rule, the inspection criteria can easily be modified. Document control and storage issues become a thing of the past too; no more hunting down forms or documents hidden away in space-taking file cabinets.
Connecting the Warehouse, Managers and Back Office
A smart manager or HR staff member might also recognize some very human benefits from digitally connecting the warehouse floor staff, the managers and the back office employees. When inspections, maintenance, training, and perhaps even employee evaluations become simpler and faster, additional opportunities for improving employee performance and satisfaction arise. That’s a topic I’ll take a good look at soon.
This post was originally published on 07-07-2022 at The Future and Now of Materials Handling substack. Sign up for Tim Brown’s unique perspectives on how emerging technologies such as AI and the cloud have the potential to transform the industry.