Forklifts are one of the more significant financial investments in any warehouse, factory, or construction site. It puts many owners and managers in a budgeting predicament. On the one hand, they want to get the most out of their investment, so putting resources toward forklift maintenance is necessary. However, because forklifts are such a financial burden, they can put too much of a strain on finances. The best way to find even ground between these two lines of thinking is by asking yourself how to reduce forklift maintenance costs for your fleet.
Perform Regular Inspections
It costs a company nothing extra to incorporate inspections into the daily operations of a forklift. However, performing these inspections can significantly reduce forklift maintenance costs by helping to identify problem areas quickly. These inspections don’t just allow you to identify when work is necessary, but they also let you know when work isn’t required. They ensure that a facility isn’t wasting funds by performing more maintenance than they need to.
Along the lines of catching problems before they become major, preventative maintenance is key to keeping maintenance costs low. Simple preventative maintenance keeps small problems from becoming larger, costlier ones. They also extend a forklift’s lifespan, helping you get a greater return on your investment. Facilities should establish a checklist of necessary maintenance tasks, as well as the frequency with which you’ll need to perform these tasks. Some items that should be on the list include:
- Changing engine filters
- Changing the hydraulic fluid in the engine and mast
- Lubricating mast chains
- Replacing brake pads
Improve Employee Training
Proper employee training can reduce maintenance costs in two ways. On the one hand, you can establish the principles we’ve already addressed here, such as teaching workers what to look for when performing regular inspections and how to perform standard maintenance correctly. On the other hand, quality employee training will teach employees how to operate a forklift in a way that doesn’t wear it down faster than necessary, including concepts like correctly determining load capacity and how to take loads safely up inclines.
Make Warehouses Easy To Navigate
Forklift accidents cause unexpected damage to the vehicle and surrounding area, driving up maintenance costs and potentially impacting a facility’s merchandise. Reducing the risk of forklift accidents is, therefore, necessary for this endeavor. Making warehouses easy to navigate is one of the simplest ways not only to decrease warehouse accidents but to increase the overall productivity of your operations. There are several ways to do this.
A disorganized warehouse is prone to lost merchandise and lower efficiency. It may also be hard to navigate for heavy machinery like forklifts if merchandise and other materials are encroaching on the aisles. If a forklift has to drive over it or swerve to avoid it, crashing into surrounding shelves in the process, your warehouse is losing time and money.
Establish Pedestrian Safety
Even warehouses with well-ordered merchandise can still become chaotic if forklift operators cannot safely navigate in the same spaces as employees on foot. Operating around pedestrians is even more dangerous for forklift operators than doing so around stationary objects. Encourage pedestrians to walk in specified areas along the sides of the aisles, and mark these areas with reflective tape. Also, consider incorporating reflective vests into both pedestrians and operator uniforms to improve visibility and prevent accidents.
Sometimes, it isn’t materials and people in the aisle but the ground itself that causes trouble for forklifts. Even though many forklifts can handle rougher terrain, such as the ones that frequent construction sites, rough or uneven flooring can lead to the tread of tires wearing out prematurely. More glaringly, uneven flooring increases the risks of tip-overs, which can cause even greater damage to forklifts.
Loading Dock Organization
One of the more chaotic spaces in any warehouse is its loading dock. Because there is so much activity going on in these areas, it is more prone to forklift accidents than other places. You can cut down on the chaos by optimizing the loading dock’s setup as much as possible in your established space, as well as establishing an orderly loading and unloading protocol. Beyond this, you can boost efficiency with online warehouse management systems and lighting cues to tell a driver when they can and can’t leave an area.
Pay Attention To Tires
Being conscious of tire wear and tear is a single maintenance task that influences several others for forklifts. A good set of tires can reduce the risk of accidents. Along with this, because forklifts don’t have suspensions, good tires will help to prevent damage throughout the forklift, especially the axle and forks. The tread of your tires will also determine the forklift’s fuel efficiency, and bad forklift tires can even damage the internal workings of the forklift.
Standardize Forklift Fleet
Buying parts for a forklift is costly, but this cost increases when a facility needs to purchase separate parts for several different brands of forklifts. The same is true for performing maintenance on a forklift fleet. Individual forklift brands often require slightly different maintenance plans, and trying to navigate these plans will inevitably take more time. This is more time from your employees, which is a greater cost for you. Keeping your fleet to one brand of forklift will add efficiency to the process and make maintenance less costly.
Fleet Management Systems
Fleet management systems primarily help operators keep track of forklift usage, including when a forklift is in use, where a forklift is at a given moment, and, most notably, when forklifts are due for maintenance. These automated systems save managers a significant amount of time by determining when and what maintenance is necessary. And, as mentioned, more efficient maintenance plans tend to be less costly for your company.
Forklifts are a big investment, but if you maintain them well, they are certainly a worthwhile one. And if your forklift needs repair, our forklift repair services are here to help get your forklift ready for work again.