Daily Forklift Maintenance Checklist Tips
Performing regular forklift maintenance is a key part of reducing downtime and increasing the longevity of your forklift. Periodic maintenance helps operators and managers alike catch small issues before they become larger and prevent problems before they arise. To assist companies in creating plans that work best for their operations, we have compiled this essential regular forklift maintenance checklist.
A Note on Frequency
While companies should perform each maintenance task listed here regularly, that does not mean that they need to perform every task with the same frequency. Some tasks will be most effective if you perform them each time a worker operates the vehicle, while others are only necessary weekly, monthly, or annually.
For each maintenance task listed here, we will also specify how frequently you should perform the task, both in hours and days, based on a working schedule of eight hours per day, five days per week. Note that this time may vary depending on the conditions in which your forklift operates.
Internal Combustion – Before operating a forklift with an internal combustion engine, operators should check fuel levels, and they should refuel tanks at the end of each day. Examining the machine for signs of oil leaks should also be part of this daily inspection. Grease the grease fittings on the engine every fifty hours, or about once a week, to allow lubricants to flow readily. Change filters and fluid approximately every 250 hours or monthly. When performing other maintenance tasks, it’s a good idea to monitor hoses and belts for damage and replace them as needed.
Hydraulic– Daily tasks for hydraulic engines include monitoring fluid levels and examining the forklift for leaks. After every 500 hours or two months, operators should replace the hydraulic fluid and filters and examine the pump. It’s also important to inspect the hoses and seals for cracks regularly, especially if the forklift is operating in icy conditions.
Electric– Using one of our stand-up electric forklifts, maintenance will focus largely on the forklift battery. Operators should charge forklift batteries no more than once a day. Charging batteries more frequently can severely reduce a battery’s lifespan. Also, water a forklift battery once a day after charging. Facilities should perform more in-depth examinations of the battery and electrical system every 250 hours.
Operators should do a visual scan of forklift tires before every use. Respond immediately to inadequate tire pressure as well as worn out or damaged tread. OSHA standards require the immediate replacement of tires with damaged tread. This is especially important for a forklift that functions in an area where there is rough terrain. Those who are replacing tires should be certain that they utilize the correct type of tire, taking both the forklift itself and the environment it must drive into consideration.
As part of the daily visual inspection, operators should check the mast for any bends or dents that may prevent it from lifting correctly. As a best practice, operators should try to put the masts into a “lift” position at the beginning of a shift before lifting a load. After every 1,000 hours or every four months, inspect and replace the hydraulic fluid in a mast.
Along with the mast, inspect the mast chains with a chain gauge either daily or weekly. Though chains can usually last around three years, regular inspections will inform operators if a replacement is necessary sooner. You can also maintain chain longevity by lubricating the chains and masts every 500 hours or two months.
Fork maintenance mostly surrounds a daily visual check for cracks, bends, wear, or uneven fork height. When a replacement is necessary, operators should never replace only one fork. Having two forks with different amounts of wear can spell trouble for your forklift and those operating in and around it, so it’s best to replace both forks simultaneously.
Brakes are one of the most indispensable parts of maintaining safety in a forklift, so brake inspection should occur daily. This task can be a simple check to ensure that the pedal itself works and that both the standard brakes and parking brakes are operational. Operators should replace brakes after every 250 hours or monthly.
Lights & Safety Devices
Although these safety issues are smaller, they are essential parts of regular forklift maintenance that promote the operator’s safety and others working on the warehouse floor. Forklift brake lights and taillights are important for communicating an operator’s intentions to pedestrians. For forklifts that need to operate outside or in dim locations, forklift headlights are necessary by OSHA standards. Replace these lights when they go out.
Other crucial safety devices that require regular inspection and replacement when necessary include fire extinguishers, mirrors, horns, and seatbelts.
Forklift cleanliness isn’t the first thing many people think of in forklift maintenance. However, keeping a forklift clean reduces rust build-up and fire risk, increasing a forklift’s overall life span. Wash forklifts every few months for the best results.
There are multiple ways to wash a forklift. Some recommend wiping it down with a cloth to avoid damaging the electrical components; others recommend power washing the exterior to avoid direct contact with any dangerous materials that may adhere to the forklift’s exterior. In either case, those washing the exterior of a forklift should wear personal protective equipment.
This category is optional, but there are benefits to ensuring your machine’s paint job remains intact. Painted heavy machinery tends to be more resistant to extreme heat than machinery with unpainted surfaces. This is good news for forklifts operating in high temperatures, especially hydraulic forklifts. Because paint is not essential to the vehicle operating correctly, you can perform this task as needed.
While this list is reliable for most forklifts, operators and managers should review the recommendations listed in the owner’s manual for their specific forklift. By performing essential regular forklift maintenance, you can ensure that your forklifts will experience less downtime, cost less in the long run, and last far longer than those of your competitors.
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