The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applies directly to forklift maintenance. Trying to cut costs by avoiding service or repairs isn’t the best option. In fact, it will probably end up costing you more.
Forklifts are an investment
One report estimates that 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.
It pays to maintain that investment. Telematics can help you identify key issues that threaten to increase forklift downtimes and ensure preventative maintenance is completed. Overall, telematic monitoring can cut maintenance costs and increase productivity by 3% to 5%.
Cutting forklift maintenance
Forklifts have specific mechanical conditions or design features that increase the risk for forklift accidents and breakdowns — especially without proper maintenance. These include:
- Malfunction of brakes
- Malfunction of steering
- Malfunction of clutch, shift linkage, or transmission
- Malfunction of mast assembly
- Leaks in hydraulic systems or transmission
- Safety devices lacking, inadequate, or malfunctioning
- Emissions from forklifts
- Blind spots or obstructions blocking driver's view
- Poor layout of controls and displays
Forklifts and material-handling equipment is expensive to repair and replace, but proper care and maintenance reduces those costs and helps them last longer. In fact, the average useful lifespan is about 10,000 to 12,000 hours, or approximately 6 years, though some trucks may continue to be useful for 10 years.
Forklifts and your bottom line
You know there are numerous costs associated with forklift downtime and inefficiency, so you should establish — and monitor — a maintenance strategy to prevent breakdowns and decreased productivity.
Here are three ways to minimize forklift downtime and inefficiency:
1. Establish a regular maintenance plan.
Create a schedule for the regular service and inspection off all trucks to ensure issues are caught before they become serious. Mandatory safety checklists can help identify maintenance issues at the beginning of each shift or with each change of operator, locking vehicles until the checklists are successfully completed.
2. Utilize new technology.
Telematics can monitor everything from battery care to operator/vehicle downtime to offer insight on where improvements can be made to increase productivity. For example, managers can receive notification about mechanical issues within the fleet so they can proactively repair vehicles before more damage is done.
3. Replace out-of-date machinery.
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. To be safe and efficient, all equipment should be in good condition and functioning well.
Forklift manufacturers suggest service intervals for a reason. Improper maintenance takes its toll on a lift truck, and, over time, it becomes less efficient and more prone to breakdowns, impacts, or accidents. Advanced telematics can monitor your fleet and ensure your maintenance plan is always followed.