Continental Tire uses Lift Truck Telemetry
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Continental Tire uses Lift Truck Telemetry

By Kevin Paramore, Emerging Technology Commercialization Manager, Yale Materials Handling Corporation

Kevin Paramore, Emerging Technology Commercialization Manager, Yale Materials Handling Corporation

Continental Tire’s Mt. Vernon, Illinois production operation occupies a 60-acre facility, employs a workforce of over 3,000, and primarily serves the North American market, manufacturing a full line of commercial and passenger tires. For nearly 20 years ago, the Mt. Vernon operation has worked with Black Equipment, a family-owned Yale®authorized dealer, for lift trucks and fleet service.

In 2003, Continental Tire tapped Black Equipment as the exclusive lift truck provider for its Mt. Vernon facility and outsourced all lift truck fleet maintenance to the dealer’s team of technicians.

Challenge

Continental Tire needed a technology-based solution to provide more excellent fleet visibility and drive process optimization. The telemetry solution required to address four key areas.

OSHA compliance – Replace paper checklists for OSHA-mandated daily inspections with electronic alternatives and save more than 279,000 pieces of paper per year.

Impact reporting –Monitor lift truck impacts to gauge operator behavior and automate reporting.

3. Preventive maintenance –Schedule maintenance based on real-time data, rather than predetermined guidelines, helping create a leaner, more efficient operation with minimal unplanned downtime.

4. Equipment utilization –Automatically track lift truck utilization across the facility’s different departments to determine appropriate equipment needs.

Continental Tire also required a solution with a specific technology framework and a high level of vendor support. A previous telemetry effort failed to deliver on the promise of data-driven connectivity due to dependence on Continental Tire’s IT department – a cumbersome process that hindered site-wide adoption. This time, the company pursued a more streamlined approach with no IT involvement.

Solution

The Yale Vision telemetry solution allowed Continental Tire to leverage their relationship with Black Equipment, offering a streamlined process and familiar partner.

Yale Vision provided dedicated project management to guide solution implementation and provide ongoing support. The tire manufacturer’s lift truck fleet is the largest installation of Yale Vision to date and includes a handful of non-Yale tuggers. The ability of Yale Vision to work with virtually any type of mobile warehouse equipment provided the flexibility for Continental Tire to get precisely what they needed from the solution.

The scale of the Mt. Vernon facility’s 24-hour, three-shift operation presented the first customization opportunity. Staffing these shifts requires a massive workforce that exceeds the system’s default 1,034 operator capacity. To accommodate this volume, Yale Vision team collaborated with Nathan Baugher, fleet and rolling stock manager for Continental Tire, to produce a custom, dedicated matrix. This provided the capacity to keep track of all the operators while maintaining the functionality and performance of the Yale Vision portal.

Yale Vision can operate on Wi-Fi and cellular networks, including both Global System for Mobiles (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The need to avoid reliance on internal IT resources ruled out Wi-Fi, and the location’s lack of GSM cellular coverage meant that Continental Tire required CDMA Yale Vision modules.

The final piece was getting the different facility departments up to speed on how to use the solution. This included training management on essential utilization, reporting and impact monitoring, and building operator knowledge.

“Because the system is web-based, getting everyone access was very easy - we didn’t have to install any client-side software to the PCs. They can access the system anywhere, as long as they have internet access,” says Baugher.

Impact

With the system up and running, Continental Tire started to reap the benefits of a more efficient, visible lift truck fleet. The web portal and automated functions shared in a leaner, more efficient era with optimized maintenance, OSHA compliance, equipment utilization, and impact monitoring.

Automated Service Calls and Preventive Maintenance Decrease Downtime

The Yale Vision solution for Continental Tire includes fault code monitoring, in which the system sends an automatic alert for proactive service based on real-time equipment status. These alerts go directly to Black Equipment, who dispatches a technician without burdening Continental Tire’s operators or management.

These alerts can prevent minor issues, such as a loss of hydraulic pressure or slight controller damage, from escalating into crippling downtime. Yale Vision also chronicles usage of data and equipment wear, making black Equipment’s maintenance even more efficient and effective, with more precise scheduling and better first-pass completion.

Controlled Spending Through Truck Utilization Data

The aversion to downtime can take a wasteful turn, with many operations purchasing unnecessary trucks as a budget-busting buffer. Yale Vision helps avoid these purchases, lease overruns, and service by analyzing utilization trends like essential time, motion, idle time, and more.

As the Mt. Vernon facility implemented new processes and expanded production, analysis of information from Yale Vision proved that Continental Tire did not require any corresponding lift truck fleet expansion. This prevented unnecessary capital expenditures and provided data-driven confidence that the existing fleet was sufficient.

In Continental Tire’s three-shift, 24-hour rotation, properly allocating lift trucks means no unit can be used in back-to-back shifts. To enable this strategy, Yale Vision provides truck-specific utilization data complete with shift time reporting and maintains access protocols to ensure operators have the equipment they need.

Improved Safety and Compliance

Yale Vision provides digital checklists, prompting operators to perform mandatory equipment checks before each shift. This feature ended Continental Tire’s reliance on inefficient, outdated paper checklists, delivering significant savings in paper and administrative costs. Additionally, the impact reporting provided by Yale Vision led to a 3.7 percent reduction in critical impacts through the first six months of implementation.

Ultimately, close collaboration between Black Equipment, Yale Materials Handling Corporation, and Continental Tire proved critical to the success of the project. This effort focused on precisely what Continental Tire needed from the system, matching operational requirements with the capabilities of Yale Vision and providing consistent support.

“Given the sheer size of the operation, it’s important to have champions on both sides, so you don’t wind up overwhelmed by more information,” said Scott Bonnell of Black Equipment. “They set up the parameters they need for their operation, and Yale Vision provides that custom level of awareness integral to the success of the Mt. Vernon facility.”

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