Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

3 Reasons for Increased Forklift Maintenance Costs

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Jan 15, 2019 4:00:00 AM

There are three reasons that forklift maintenance costs may be inching upward in your facility. You may blame it on the rising cost of replacement parts or the costly man-hours it takes for repair services, but there are other reasons you should consider.  spanner-3013129_640

Here are the top three — and their solutions. 

3 reasons forklift maintenance costs are increasing 

1. Ignoring small repair issues 

Small repair needs can quickly become big, expensive repairs if you ignore them. Trying to cut costs by avoiding service or repairs is never the best option. In fact, it will probably end up costing you more in downtime, parts and labor. 

The solution: Mandatory safety checklists can help identify small repair needs at the beginning of each shift or with each change of operator, locking vehicles until the checklists are successfully completed. 

2. Human error 

Operator error can be a key reason for those sudden increases in maintenance/repair costs. In a recent case study, DW Distribution Inc., a two-step wholesale distributor of building materials and millwork products, experienced unusually high forklift maintenance costs at its Desoto, Texas, branch. Using advanced telematic forklift monitoring, they determined that 75% of their expenses were caused by operator error.  

The solution: The company installed the TotalTrax software system in 18 of the company’s forklifts, and, within a month, the company realized a sizable reduction in impacts and associated costs.   

After 3 months, DW Distribution realized a 20% reduction in maintenance costs, year over year.   
The trucks with the TotalTrax software had 20% reduction in maintenance costs, while maintenance costs associated with trucks without the TotalTrax system remained unchanged.  

3. Old lift-trucks need to be replaced

Everything has a lifespan, even your lift-trucks. Forklifts typically are functional for 10 years or more, but often are not operating economically or optimally for safety. Economic effectiveness decreases as forklifts age, typically after six years. At some point, the cost to maintain a truck — if it is frequently down for repairs — exceeds the cost to replace it. 

The solution: Replace some of your fleet vehicles. Shaving a few years off the age of your forklifts can also be beneficial to operational efficiency and safety. Forklifts are a huge investment, so you can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a gently used truck versus a new one. But, only consider buying a used forklift if it was well maintained and it will be used only for a single shift, no more than five days per week, and your operation is not a high-throughput, nonstop type.  Otherwise, it is wiser to buy new. 

Forklifts are an investment  

Multi-shift class I and II forklifts cost about $20,000 to maintain and operate annually. Class III forklifts cost just under $13,000 per year. So, it pays to maintain and protect that investment. Overall, telematic monitoring can cut maintenance costs and increase productivity by 3% to 5%. 

A telematics system will support your unique objectives, monitoring maintenance and age of vehicles, repairs and operator errors, allowing you to identify the three key issues that may be increasing forklift downtime and repair costs in your facility.  

Topics: human error, KPIs, forklift impacts, Routing checklists, safety improvements, waste stream reduction, operator behavior, operator report card, limit risks, forklift operators