Today's economic downturn has got everyone in a state of panic. Properly managing your materials handling equipment can help your company achieve your financial goals. Here are some tips that will help you mitigate the economic situation.

1) Review Energy Costs 

• Review past, current and projected energy cost 
• Develop plan to optimize energy consumption 
• Investigate incentives with energy providers 
• Leverage and negotiate with energy providers 
• Lock in long term cost prior to economic recovery 

Become energy wise! 

Efficient Energy consumption is not only good for the environment but it adds dollars to the bottom line. Conduct an energy audit in your facility and determine where your high usage or energy waste exists. The audit will help you develop a plan to optimize your energy and evaluate your projected energy cost. Explore local, state and federal incentives to help reduce energy cost. Consult the experts of your energy providers for recommendations while negotiating and locking in long-term costs. 

2) Capture Safety Dividends 

• Review safety records and insurance coverage 
• Insurance Concessions for ergonomic and safety programs 
• Operator training 
• Abuse oversight and reduction (battery monitoring systems) 

Safety Pays! 

Many insurance companies offer discounts for ergonomic and safety programs that go unused every year. Review your safety records and determine what areas you can improve. Contact your insurance company to find out what discounts can be received by initiating new programs. This review will also identify any operator training or abuse of safety rules in your facility. These ergonomic and safety discounts are a win/win for both your facility and your insurance company. 

3) Explore Financing Options Fixed, Adjustable Leases or Loans

• Take advantage of lower short-term interest rates 
• Reduce payments and improve cash flow 
• Adjustable component indexed to market 
• Ability to refinance at pre-determined milestones 
• FMV product to help ensure lowest payment 
• Benefit for gradual increase in market liquidity through favorable rate adjustment 

Financing options 

There are many options available today with fixed, adjustable leases or loans. Take advantage of lower short-term interest rates to reduce your overall payments and improve cash flow. Determine which type of financing fits your short-term and long-term goals. Is an adjustable component index to the market a good move for you or does the ability to refinance at pre-determined milestones offer you more flexibility? Bottom line you need financing that gives you the ability to operate more effectively. Explore your options•could be a fair market value product strategy will help ensure lowest payment or there may be a benefit for gradual increase in market liquidity through favorable rate adjustment. 

4) Improve the Balance Sheet 

• Off-Balance Sheet Loan Product 
• Reduce payment to improve cash flow 
• Advance rents 
• Off balance sheet accounting treatment 
• Customer receives tax benefits of ownership 
• Stated Purchase Option-no premium 
• Residual upside when market strengthens 
• Remarketing assistance available if required 
• Greater control over deal economics 

Balance sheet improvement 

There are several ways you can improve your balance sheet. One way may be to reduce payments to improve cash flow with refinancing or better flexible financing. Explore the need to step up/down with equipment cost. Renting on holidays? Taking advantage of advance rents can reduce your cost. Many financial executives use off balance sheet accounting treatments on materials handling equipment and you receive tax benefits of ownership. You can explore a stated purchase option with no premium reaping the benefit when the market strengthens. Review inventory and contact your partners for remarketing assistance or suggestions on improving your utilization and budget requirements. Your partners know the market, industry trends and can be a trusted advisor in this area. 

5) Forward order programs - Lock in prices for future needs

• Parts procurement investigate purchasing programs - Unisource parts can save money over OEM options 
• Consolidate the number of contracted service providers 
• Consolidated invoices from each service provider 
• Preferred pricing is typically based on volume of business with each service provider 
• Additional costs for contracting with multiple service providers 

Ramp up for the Future! 

Facility ready for the upturn-take advantage of forward-order programs and lock in prices for your future needs. Consolidate the number of contracted service providers. This enables you to consolidate invoices and possibly achieve preferred pricing based on your volume of business. You'll also reduce administrative cost, travel charges and should be able to increase your response time because of the volume. Evaluate your parts on hand and take advantage of this timing to organize and reorder your needed parts for the future. Better parts procurement will increase your uptime. UNISOURCE parts can save money over OEM options and give you the advantage of better service and dependability. 

6) Review Maintenance Options

• Exploring maintenance programs to more align with your revenue stream 
• Usage-based full maintenance to• 
• Align maintenance cost with actual truck usage 
• Pay rates typically based on total number of hours, no calendar term 

Maintenance is critical! 

Evaluate, today, your maintenance programs. Do you need to adjust the program to align better with your revenue stream? Maybe a usage-based full maintenance program could save you money without affecting the reliability of your lift trucks. The usage-based program aligns maintenance cost with actual truck usage. Rates are typically based on total number of hours instead of a calendar term. Call your service advisor and have them help you determine your best option. 

7) Explore fleet optimization 

A Fleet Management Plan Should Include: 

• Right-sizing equipment base 
o Remove non-productive units 
• Re-deployment of equipment 
o Within facility or other locations 
• Replacing units based on optimum life 
o Stop "throwing good money after bad•bCrLf 

Optimize your Fleet! 

Many companies have saved big bucks by developing a Fleet Management Plan. This plan has elements that will help make your entire fleet more efficient and save you cost of truck maintenance and up-keep. The first element is right-sizing your equipment base and removing non-productive units. This evaluation may suggest a re-deployment of equipment within your facility or other locations. An effective plan may suggest replacing units based on optimum life allowing you to stop "throwing good money after bad•bCrLf! 

8) Utilize Telemetry Solutions to Monitor Material Handling Assets

Productivity Improvements and Operator Accountability driven by:

• Intelligence-based management of assets 
• Effective alternative compared to utilizing human resources as your source 
• Advanced-level monitoring simply cannot be performed by human resources 

Track Productivity and Get accountability! 

You can increase productivity and operator accountability by utilizing telemetry solutions to monitor your materials handling assets. These intelligence-based management systems are a very effective alternative versus the human resource. The benefit is they are constant and accurate giving you real time information and full accountability. Accountability enables greater productivity! Such advanced-level monitoring gives you benchmarks and key performance indicators that will enhance your operational efficiency. 

• Develop Fleet Benchmarking 
• Compare Maintenance Alternatives 

9) Implement Fleet Management 

• Determine Fleet Operating Costs 
• Breakout Parts and Labor Costs 
• Monitor Fleet Utilization 

Fleet management 

Below is a step by step blueprint to implement fleet management. Utilize your trusted partner to validate the information and give you suggestions: 

1. Determine Fleet Operating Costs 

2. Breakout Parts and Labor Costs 

3. Monitor Fleet Utilization 

4. Develop Fleet Benchmarking 

5. Compare Maintenance Alternatives 

Once you have gathered this data you will be able to clearly identify savings opportunities so that in the future you can avoid unnecessary damage, rental and tire expense. 

10) Review Parts/Aftermarket Solutions 

• Check Tires 

The Best Tire for your Application 
Increased Tire Life 
• Remote Hour Meter Readers

Timeliness of scheduled PMs 
By the hour not by a date 
• Remanufactured Parts 

Reduce parts replacement costs 
Same warranty as new 
• Operator Comfort-Less Product / Forklift Damage 

Suspension seats, hydraulic accumulators and radial tires 
• One-Stop Shopping 

For all your Forklifts regardless of the Brand through the Unisource offering. Got a Good Parts Program? 

A common problem of downtime is improper parts procurement, organization and storage. This is an area that most companies could improve upon. 

• Check out the tires! Just like on your personal automobile, using the best tire for your application will increase your tire life and your trucks operate more effectively. 
• You can reduce parts replacement costs and still receive same warranty as a new part with remanufactured parts. 
• Periodic Maintenance can be enhanced with remote hour meter readers scheduling by the hours used and not by a calendar date to ensure performance ready equipment. 
• Ensure operator comfort and have less product or forklift damage. Suspension seats, hydraulic accumulators and radial tires and other ergonomic features ensure better operator control and comfort.

Save time with one-stop shopping by looking at all the benefits of price, delivery, dependability and quality through the UNISOURCE offering. 

With 80 years of experience in the lift truck industry, Hyster had become somewhat of an expert on the subject. If you need assistance with any of these strategies, consult your local Hyster lift truck dealer. For more information, visit or