Forklift Planned Maintenance and More

No crystal ball needed - Avoid these practices and follow a planned forklift maintenance schedule to increase lift truck life, productivity and uptime.

As a lift truck manufacturer with decades of material handling experience, we can relatively predict the future life span of many lift trucks. The clues to a much shorter-than-normal lift truck lifetime are often obvious – and should be avoided.

Read on to learn the top 4 practices that impact lift truck life span and discover practical solutions for how to avoid them.

1. Lack of Planned Maintenance (PM)

Not having a lift truck or your entire fleet regularly maintained can jeopardize the trucks’ performance and useful life. A lack of regular forklift planned maintenance is one of the leading causes of lift truck premature aging.

Here's why: 

  • Well-maintained equipment lasts longer. Yet when you get to work, duties and distractions claim your attention. Lift truck maintenance can be forgotten in the rush to get the product out the door.
  • Even when lift trucks are getting the job done, internal components are wearing. Take lubricating oils and hydraulic fluids as an example. They’re vital to a lift truck’s operation. The components that come in contact with these fluids will wear faster when those fluids are used beyond the manufacturer’s recommended service interval. Dirty or degraded fluids contaminate entire component systems and can cause serious and time-consuming repairs. During a PM, your dealer’s service technician will check all fluids and top off transmission, brake and coolant fluids to recommended levels.
  • Another example of premature part failure can occur when there’s a fluid leak. Not only will the loss of fluids cause mechanical or hydraulic failure, but there’s also the potential for product damage. You can avoid such occurrences by having your dealer’s trained service technicians check for leaks during a regularly scheduled PM. They’ll notice chafed or damaged hydraulic hoses, for instance, and replace them to prevent potential leaks and operational failures.

Remember, the brief time a lift truck is down for Planned Maintenance is nothing compared to the days of lost productivity when a major component or system fails. Then there’s the cost of replacement parts that add to the cost of downtime.

How to avoid this:
If you feel like you don’t have time to put together a forklift maintenance schedule to see that proper PMs are performed, we can help. Your local lift truck dealer offers flexible planned maintenance programs tailored to your needs, applications and workloads. We’ll take PM details off your agenda and make them our priority.

2. Using a lift truck to push, shove or tow

Lift trucks got their name because they’re designed to lift and carry a load. Heavy pushing of loads, shoving pallets instead of lifting and moving them, or using a lift truck to tow can all cause stress which leads to premature wear and component failure.

These practices are especially hard on battery-powered (electric) lift trucks because they can cause:

  • overheating and potential failure of control panel parts
  • high current demands that lead to worn traction motors
  • increased battery cable temperatures
  • reduced battery run time
  • a stalled electric motor and blown main traction fuse
  • repairs that aren’t covered by warranties.

Engine-powered lift trucks also suffer from pushing and towing abuse, causing things like:

  • excessive fuel and oil consumption
  • overheated engines and transmissions
  • premature brake failure
  • overloaded gearcases.

This type of abuse doesn’t need to be frequent to cause problems.

Damage can occur almost immediately. For example, an operator can stall an electric drive motor when pushing against a stubborn or immovable object. This can raise its internal temperature beyond critical levels in just a few seconds.

How to avoid this: 
Understand the proper usage guidelines for your forklifts. Train your forklift operators to understand best practices. Your local forklift dealer can help assess your business’ lift truck usage and provide practical tips to improve the process, flow or avoid costly damage and abuse from lift truck misuse.

3. Ignoring operators and daily pre-shift inspections

If you don’t have time to talk with lift truck operators about how the fleet is running or make time to review daily forklift inspection sheets, you may be missing:

  • indications that the lift truck fleet is aging
  • an easily fixed problem that is recurring
  • damage that could occur due to an unsafe operating condition.

How to avoid this:

Engage your local dealer service technicians for help. During a PM, they speak directly with operators to assess the current forklift fleet and can make needed adjustments to match your business needs and manufacturers’ recommended settings.

4. Overuse of Forklifts

Although today’s lift truck models are more durable than ever before, overuse can accelerate wear. If you operate a lift truck constantly at full capacity in high-cycle applications, you work their systems to their limits. Soon, those overworked components wear out. That’s why high-cycle applications should stick to a PM schedule based on hours of use. 

How to avoid this:
Ask your local forklift dealer about the proper PM schedule that best fits your application.

5. A positive practice

You can help extend lift truck life by working with a reputable and knowledgeable dealer. Through our Planned Maintenance programs, we can advise you of future performance issues and timely replacement schedules. Through regular visits, your dealer can discuss how changes in the application may impact lift truck maintenance, productivity and selection.

How much does it cost to maintain a forklift?

Forklift maintenance costs largely depend on your maintenance practices. If you stick to your planned maintenance schedule, use the forklift as it was designed, and keep up on regular inspections you’ll find that your lifetime costs will be greatly reduced. 

Contact your local forklift dealer to learn more about our forklift planned maintenance options, good lift truck practices, and practices to avoid for maximum truck life and productivity. We’re here to make your business more efficient.

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