Your forklift is a vital piece of equipment. Any vehicle downtime can have an immediate impact on the productivity of your business, so it is important to keep it in the best possible condition. A proactive approach to maintenance will help to optimise efficiency and increase the lifespan of your forklift. It is also essential for the safety and welfare of the operators and other staff on the premises. Here are our top tips for forklift maintenance to save you time and money.
They’re quick and easy to do, and they can save you a lot of hassle, so don’t overlook your daily vehicle checks. Make sure there is clear accountability for the checks so there’s no confusion over who should be carrying them out. Use a checklist if necessary. Daily checks should include:
• Hydraulic fluid
• Antifreeze (seasonal)
All the moving parts should be greased frequently – daily if needed – to avoid friction causing long-term damage to your machinery. Worn ball bearings should be replaced.
You should make certain that items such as the seatbelt and brakes are in good working order. Remember to check for leaky hoses too.
A full oil change should be done every three months to make sure your forklift is running as efficiently as possible. This can also help to avoid combustion issues.
Check the tyres on your forklift at least weekly. As with any vehicle, tyres need to be in good condition and inflated to the correct level for optimum performance. Uneven tyres can result in a hazardous, unbalanced load. Forklift tyres are particularly prone to uneven wear, often caused by movements needed to manoeuvre in tight spaces and repeating the same turns within the layout of your premises. If you rotate the tyres from one wheel to another on your forklift as part of your regular maintenance programme, you can prolong the life of the tyres and save yourself some money on replacements.
Brakes should be checked regularly and any changes in responsiveness need to be addressed straight away. Brake pads and callipers can be changed at relatively little expense compared with the possible cost of major repairs, or worse still an accident.
If you have a battery-powered forklift, be sure to treat your forklift battery with care to prolong its life. Keep the battery clean and dry and check it regularly for any signs of corrosion. Top up water after the charge cycle. The water level should be kept to around half an inch lower than the battery cap opening. Avoid charging the battery for short periods, such as during lunch breaks, as this can reduce the lifespan of the battery. Make sure your forklift battery is washed and serviced every six months as part of your servicing plan to keep corrosion at bay.
The radiator on a forklift can be prone to getting clogged up, for example with lint, so make sure you have it blown out regularly to avoid problem blockages and the potentially hazardous build-up of combustible materials.
Keep all forklift operators mindful of the need to report any faults immediately. It may help to provide a logbook to make sure that issues are not forgotten and left unreported if you have shift handovers. Never ignore warning lights on the instrument panel. Once you have identified a problem with your forklift, even if it seems relatively minor, it’s important to get it seen to quickly. Delays in the correction of small faults can result in the need for costly repairs and loss of productivity for your business.
Avoid driving with the forks lowered when they are not in use. If they drag along the floor it can cause damage to the forks and it also adds to your fuel consumption. Never exceed the maximum load or you risk causing damage or even an accident. Don’t use the forks for anything other than lifting – they are not designed for pushing or opening things.
Ensure that only trained and licensed operators use the forklift. This is for the safety of everyone on your premises as well as for avoiding unnecessary damage or wear and tear to your forklift through incorrect use of the vehicle. Unqualified members of staff may also fail to carry out the necessary checks to ensure the forklift is in good condition. If you buy new forklift equipment, make sure that all operators receive training on the new machinery and any specific features or maintenance requirements.
Stick to a regular servicing schedule for your forklift. Our comprehensive forklift servicing will ensure that your vehicle is kept in optimal condition so you have minimal downtime for your business, and your forklift has as long a life as possible. If you have any questions about maintaining your forklift truck and our service plans, contact us at Fork Truck Direct. Our engineers have extensive experience of servicing forklifts, and are always happy to give advice.