OMNIA Partners Blog

10 Tips You Wish You Knew To Manage Material Handling Lead Times

Posted by OnPoint Group on November 10, 2021

Is your business struggling with long lead times? You’re not alone.

Operations across every sector are facing unheard of lead times for material handling equipment. That’s due to several reasons, but the short version is that the global pandemic has disrupted supply chains and extended manufacturing and delivery times for critical warehouse equipment.

“If you didn't already order a forklift, you may be looking at six months to a year before you receive it. And for large automation projects, many have a backlog of three years at this point given growing demand,” says Ryan Lynch, Vice President of Marketing at OnPoint Group.


🔴Work with a GPO to Streamline your Purchasing

The good news is that an extended wait for assets doesn’t have to bring your operations to a halt. In partnering with a GPO like OMNIA Partners, cost-effective solutions are available now through industry leading suppliers like OnPoint Group. OMNIA Partners leverages the purchasing power of collective businesses to provide better pricing and services from key suppliers, such as OnPoint Group. Looking to transform your supply chain and get ahead of those long, lead times? There is reduced risk in working with a GPO as well as streamlined services to optimize your supply chain! Below, OnPoint Group provides 10 tips to address lead time challenges:


1. Reassess your needs 

Get ahead of year-long lead times by taking stock of your warehouse equipment and assess when they might require servicing or replacement. Do you know when leases are up on your current assets? You should know the age of all your assets and when their maintenance costs will start skyrocketing (usually after 12k hours/5 years). Build a 2-3 year roadmap that you constantly tweak and update to determine your future inventory needs.

2. Consider alternative equipment

Perhaps you can find similar equipment from another source? Or, maybe this is an opportunity to try another offering in the marketplace. We always recommend that customers have two main vendors for similar asset classes to build resilience into your material handling approach.

3. Optimize your workflows 

While you’re waiting for equipment, work with a specialist to make your workflows efficient.


"You can use the lack of options as an opportunity to apply a redesign to your facility,” said Lynch. “That may mean getting someone like us to map your workflows and find ways to reduce waste, decrease the number of assets you need, or reduce the number of touches you have for each product." 


4. Reconfigure your facility

Consider how unique racking options might optimize space in your warehouse.

5. Rethink how you finance your equipment

There are several strategies for absorbing the costs of aging assets. Consider transferring your maintenance agreements to guaranteed agreements to drive a fixed cost structure. Work with a proven, flexible fleet manager or financing lender who can help you evaluate the value of your owned and leased assets to help reduce costs and protect your budget against market volatility. This is a greatly under-used tactic in times of volatility. 

6. Make maintenance a priority

If you're already waiting on critical equipment, then you can't afford to let anything break down. Whether you are maintaining the equipment internally or using a third party, require them to walk you through their planned maintenance program and forecast on upcoming monthly cost trends for your aging assets.


7. Maximize your forklift power

One way to extend and improve the productivity of your existing material handling equipment is to take a deeper look at the power system. If you are running electric forklifts, power has traditionally been an afterthought. Power management strategies can save time, costs, and energy, and it begins with a third-party assessment of your operational activities as well as power requirements today and for the future.

8. Rotate asset usage

Assuming you aren’t doing so already, start rotating your trucks based on their usage so they’re being used evenly.

“What will often happen is you'll have certain trucks that get used for 3,000 hours sitting next to one that's getting used 1,000, and you don't want to have that happen,” notes Lynch. “You want to rotate assets based on usage, and then take a fleet and production view to see how you can better utilize assets across the entire operation.”

9. Take a fleet and production view

How does your equipment impact your cost per pallet or each? How many touches do you make to each unit/each? How much equipment does one facility require for the same throughput as another facility? Is your cost, usage, and telematics data all in one place so you can take decisions and benchmark across your facilities?

10. Don’t wait to order

If you're short on lifts or other assets, order immediately. It may be a wait, but at least you'll be securing your place in line. In the meantime, follow the above steps to ensure you’re equipped for the future.



➡️ 3 Areas a GPO Can Streamline Your Purchasing Process

➡️ GPO Drives Efficiency & Resilience in Freight & Logistics Challenges


Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be.

Business may be booming, but if you’re falling short on equipment, or have the wrong process flows, your operations will have difficulty keeping pace. Doing more without the right equipment will only burn out your assets and increase your cost structure. What’s more, unless you have a dedicated team to focus on managing the selection, maintenance and lifecycle of those assets, your equipment approach may fail right when your people need it most.

Consider leveraging OnPoint Group as a partner today that will help you build a global view of your assets, spend and productivity.


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Topics: Material Handling, Group Purchasing Organization, Supply Chain Management, Procurement, gpo