When it comes to operating a forklift, your main priority is safety. The level of maintenance a forklift has will determine its performance and lifespan. Forklifts are reliable machines and operate in tough conditions, but regular forklift servicing is essential.
Maintaining your forklifts will ensure that they are working properly, performing safely and it also enables you to identify problems before they can impact on the productivity of your business.
What is forklift maintenance?
Maintenance is the process by which your actions help to preserve the condition of the item in question. Therefore, by conducting regular maintenance of the right kind on an item, you can help to increase its performance, efficiency and longevity. In this case, regular maintenance of your forklift will ensure that it continues operating at its optimal performance, which will also have the benefit of reduced reparation costs, as well as keeping the forklift in operational condition for longer, so you won’t have to replace your equipment as frequently. Ultimately, the correct maintenance of your forklifts, which only takes a small amount of effort each day, will save you a lot of money in the long run.
How frequently should a forklift be inspected?
When considering the frequency of maintenance, it’s important to consider the age, condition and value of the forklift, as well as its service record, how susceptible it is to damage and the safety requirements of the machine. These factors will help you to determine the best course of action for your forklift, and it’s important for you to take the time to consider them.
Creating a maintenance schedule is a good way of ensuring that specific tasks are performed at certain points of a day, week or month. By adhering to this schedule, it means that a forklift will continue to be in good working order, and minimise disruption to performance.
Daily checks should be in operation, so that before forklifts are used each day, operators carry out simple maintenance checks. This could be a visual inspection, as well as a test to make sure the safety lights are functioning properly. The forks, chains and mast operation should be checked next, and the final check should be the fuel and engine oil levels.
What factors are involved in determining how often you should undertake a forklift service?
Manufacturers will provide recommended service intervals. A forklift functions in a similar way to other vehicles, but with an added element in the form of a hydraulic system. Similar to cars and vans, manufacturers will recommend guidelines specific to the forklift so that essential components of the machine can be serviced and maintained.
When it comes to thinking about servicing, it’s important to identify the number of hours that a forklift operates. This will be different, depending on the industry. This comes down to how much a forklift is being used, and by factoring this in, you should be confident that you can find a forklift service to match your requirements.
The condition, age and value of a forklift are important factors when deciding on the best course of action and schedule for maintenance. Over time, forklifts will be exposed to wear and tear, so this is something worth considering when thinking about your schedule. Forklifts are often important assets for a business, and like any asset it’s important to treat them properly so that they continue to work properly and safely.
Depending on how and where your forklifts are used will have an impact on how often you need to undertake a forklift service. Different environments and applications will have an impact, so it’s essential that you consider this when thinking about how you should maintain your forklifts.
What are the top tips for maintaining forklifts?
Keep forklifts clean – This is an important tip, because a clean forklift makes it easier to spot any defective areas on the machine. Using water to do this will help to see any defective parts of your forklift.
Qualified personnel – It’s important that when you get a forklift inspected, you use somebody who is trained and qualified to inspect, maintain and repair them. This will help to ensure that you receive the very best service.
Maintain procedures – When a forklift gets damaged, or becomes unsafe, it’s important to have a procedure in place to deal with this so that problems are identified and passed to the appropriate team.
Work to a schedule – It’s important that you create a schedule, and stick to it when it comes to maintaining your forklifts. This enables you to deal with issues that arise, in the most appropriate way, minimising disruption to your working practices.
What steps should be taken during the daily maintenance of a forklift?
Along with the top tips above, there are a number of daily maintenance checks and processes you need to undertake to ensure the longevity of your forklift trucks.
1. Ensure all moving parts are well lubricated
The vast majority of the moving joints on a forklift should be greased to ensure smooth action and prevent the wearing caused by friction. All moving parts should be checked every day to ensure that they are greased sufficiently, and regular additional grease should be applied on a weekly basis. In addition, you should check that all ball bearings are sufficiently mobile, and replace any that appear to be sticking or catching in their housings.
2. Fluid levels need to be checked too
Fuel isn’t the only liquid that your forklift requires, but motor oil, coolant, and hydraulic fluid levels need to be checked on a daily basis too. Not only does checking these levels prevent them from unexpectedly running low, damaging the performance of your forklift, but it also allows for the quick detection, and thus resolution, of leaks.
3. Confirm that all dashboard gauges are working
All of the gauges and lights on the panel of the dashboard are key indicators of the overall health of your machine. Attention should be paid to these indicators to ensure that everything is functioning within acceptable parameters. If anything looks wrong, then check it immediately. Equally, these gauges will tell you when the gauge system itself isn’t working, so get this fixed immediately if there are any problems!
4. Inspect your tires
Another often forgotten aspect of daily forklift maintenance is the daily checking of tires. If the tire uses air, then the pressure should be checked to ensure that the correct pressure is maintained, which will also highlight if you have sustained a puncture during the day. Equally, if your forklift uses solid rubber tires, then these should be checked for gashes or impacts. While many people will ignore the health of their tires, it is essential that your tires remain in good health, as an unbalanced ride could lead to goods becoming damaged.
5. Operational capacities
Finally, you must ensure that the operational capacities of your truck are all functioning normally. This means that the breaks and parking brake, horn, steering, and safety lights should all be checked – often, it is more sensible to check these first thing before using the vehicle, rather than once you have finished your daily operations, to ensure that no faults have developed while the vehicle was not in use. Furthermore, you should also test the mast capacities of the truck. By checking that the forklift is fully mobile and operational, you know that the vehicle is safe for use that day.
Does anything else need to be done?
In addition to this daily maintenance, there are also a couple of aspects of your forklift that should be checked on a more infrequent basis.
Four times a year, or every 600 hours, depending upon the frequency of use:
1. Full inspection of pedal give, and ease of response.
2. A thorough cleaning of the external parts of the engine radiator.
3. On diesel trucks, there should be a complete draining and replacement of the water separator.
4. A thorough cleaning of the air filter element.
Twice a year, or every 1200 hours, depending upon the frequency of use:
1. A full inspection of the break booster operation, along with pressure testing of the break fluids within the system.
2. Ensuring the engine bolt heads and manifold nuts are sufficiently torqued.
3. A complete bleeding and change of all engine liquids, including coolant, break fluid and others.
It is important to remember that these are just recommended guidelines, and you should refer and defer to any specific instructions given by the manufacturer of your forklift. If there are any signs of trouble, or you are unsure that your forklift is safe to operate, then cease use immediately and ensure that it is turned off. It should not be used again until a qualified inspector has deemed it safe to use.
At Hitec, we offer a professional and dedicated service to suit your individual needs. We have professionally trained mechanics that will undertake maintenance for all types of forklifts. Get in touch with us today and discuss your needs with us. We offer the best possible service for the maintenance of your forklifts.