Forklift trucks are commonly used in the material handling industry for lifting, transporting, and stacking products. Forklifts are also needed to move operators around a facility or warehouse. With forklifts being one of the most important pieces of material handling equipment, they must be not only maintained properly but that downtime is kept to a minimum.
Here are the most common causes of downtime with forklifts:
Not replacing or servicing a forklift when recommended by the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
Just like a car or motorcycle, forklifts require scheduled maintenance and parts replacement. It is important to stay up-to-date with manufacturer guidelines so that machines are in safe working condition for you and your operators.
For example, regular oil changes and filter replacements based on certain hours of use. Also, batteries should be replaced every three years whether they appear to need it or not. Most batteries are warrantied for only 12 months or 1,000 hours of use. Six months is a common practice for batteries that are never used.
Not properly maintaining forklift brakes.
A quick way to determine if the brakes need servicing is by pulling your hand back on the brake pedal. If there’s any movement at all, they need to be checked and/or adjusted. It is very common for equipment operators to neglect this step because they don’t want to take the time out of their day to get them fixed.
However, the cost of ignoring to invest in appropriate forklift parts in California is much greater than the time it takes to maintain them. Replacing brake parts can be very expensive and dangerous if the brakes fail while carrying a load which could lead to accidents.
Loading a forklift beyond its rated capacity, or incorrectly.
You must make sure you are loading your forklift within its lifting capacity. On the side of most forklift trucks, there is a chart that indicates how much weight they can safely carry in lbs. This information is usually available in the operator’s manual as well. The load center on a forklift is also an important factor when handling loads.
The closer the load is to the ground, the more weight it can carry. If you are lifting pallets or objects with chains or slings, be sure that they are properly attached and in good condition so they don’t break while carrying the load.
Not replacing worn-out tires when necessary.
Tires are the only link between the forklift and the surface it is driving on. When tires become worn, they affect a forklift’s handling and its stability. As a result, tire failure while carrying a load could lead to expensive property damage or serious injuries. Always make sure the tires on your forklift meet the minimum inflation requirements set forth by the forklift manufacturer. Also, check for cuts and wear marks that could indicate internal tire damage.
Substandard maintenance of machine interior or exterior.
Another common cause of downtime is failure to maintain machine exterior and interior components such as lighting, horn, mirrors, etc. For example, windshield wipers should be replaced or adjusted whenever necessary to keep them working properly and reduce the risk of an accident while driving in inclement weather.
Using the wrong forklift attachments.
Using attachments not designed for forklift usage is a common cause of accidents and downtime. For example, using the wrong type or size clamp to pick up objects can lead to serious injuries when it slips off.
Also, wearing gloves while operating a forklift can result in loss of control if your grip slips on the steering wheel. Faulty or incorrect equipment leads to downtime caused by frequent repairs, slow speeds, and excessive vibrations that lead to early component failure.
Not utilizing all available safety features on the forklift.
Forklift manufacturers often install safety features that cannot be seen but are necessary for the safe operation of the forklift. These include roll stability systems, which sense when a forklift is in danger of tipping over and activate brakes on the appropriate side to prevent it. Also, load-sensing hydraulic systems provide overload protection by monitoring the weight being carried on the forks.
Many forklift trucks are equipped with warning lights, alarms, and backup beepers that go unnoticed or are ignored by operators. For example, not using seat belts or operating a forklift with an obstructed view due to an obstructed rearview mirror or stacking loads too high.
Lack of operator training.
After you purchase the forklift truck, it is up to you to provide proper operator training. You must ensure that all operators receive proper training on how to operate the forklift. However, there are programs available that an operator can take to learn the basics of material handling safety, basic operation, and more.
Forklifts are a critical piece of material handling equipment that needs to be taken care of properly to avoid downtime costs. Investing in proper training for operators along with scheduled maintenance will help reduce these downtime costs and increase productivity.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all downtime is preventable. However, you can take steps such as following proper safety procedures and staying aware of forklift hazards, equipment operations, and maintenance schedules to minimize the possibility of downtimes caused by human error or faulty parts.