How to reduce forklift downtime

Maintain detailed records

Keeping a complete record of each unit is one of the simplest ways to track the performance of your forklift. You’ll be able to precisely assess your forklifts condition based on their performance profile. With this knowledge you’ll be able to tell when a forklift has reached the end of its usable lifespan.

Ensuring you have a separate record for each forklift that’s being used in your company is the recommended best practice. The purchase/lease price, date obtained, brand, model, number, and serial number should all be included in these figures. Since each of these figures are constant and does not alter during the duration of ownership, its best to make note of them right away. The next thing that needs to be done is to add all of the planned maintenance (PM) inspection dates and what was fixed if fixes were needed. After each PM you should receive a report sheet. For future reference, these sheets should be kept in the truck’s records. This will help you keep track of forklift maintenance patterns, damage, and overall condition.

You will want to keep note of the engine hours in addition to the maintenance. With that information you’ll be able to see how much the forklift is actually used. To keep track of this, ensure every forklift has a functioning hour meter.

Understand your operating costs

Did you know that over a million forklifts are in use in North America? Of these million forklifts, over half of them have a negative influence on their business’s bottom line. This is typically due to the forklifts being used past their usable lifespans.

To make sure your fleet doesn’t break the bank, you’ll need to know how much each forklift costs to own and maintain. You’ll need to consult your records and run a few calculations to figure this out.

To begin, calculate the cost of ownership for each unit. This is the difference between the delivered cost and its trade-in residual value. Lest say a forklift costs $15,000, has been in use for four years, and has accumulated 8,500 hours. Based on these figures, the trad-in value is $6,000. To calculate the ownership cost, deduct this number from the delivery cost ($15,000). As a result, the total cost of ownership is $9,000. Finally, divide the total engine hours by the cost ($8,500). Following these instructions, you’ll find out that your forklift costs $1.06 per hour to operate.

The next step is to calculate your total maintenance expenditures. This figure is based on the total amount spent on maintenance and parts since the vehicle was purchased. Let’s imagine the forklift above has a four-year maintenance cost of $8,800. To calculate your maintenance costs, divide this amount by the total engine hours (8,500). As a result, the cost of maintaining your forklift is $1.04 per hour.

Add these figures together once they’ve been calculated. The forklift in the example above costs $2.10 per hour to run. It’s critical to know and understand how much money you are spending on an hourly basis. You’ll be able to tell when it’s time to replace your old forklift with a new one with this knowledge.

Replace your forklifts at the right time

Most businesses simply replace their forklifts when they reach a specific age, which varies depending on the use. This age ranges from three to seven years.

Regrettably, this policy is rarely optimal for maximizing value and return-on-investment. If you stick to a strict timeline, you can end up replacing units too soon or too late. Both outcomes result in a loss of value. The easiest approach to figure out whether it’s time to replace your forklift is to create an accurate performance profile based on extensive records.

The most cost-effective moment to replace a forklift is when the total cost of ownership is lowest. This is known as the break-even point. Maintenance costs begins to grow after this stage. As a result, you may find yourself spending more and more money maintaining the forklift. This also does not take into account lost production or the expense of downtime while the forklift is being repaired. This implies you could be losing more money than just the service fees.

Have a proper planned maintenance plan

Would you drive a brand-new car for three years without doing any maintenance? Of course not! Maintenance is required to keep your car running smoothly and in compliance with the factory warranty. Oil changes, filter replacements, and battery inspections are all part of this planned maintenance. If neglected, you could be diminishing the usable life of your vehicle.

The same can be said about forklifts! If preventative maintenance is neglected, you’ll be opening yourself up to more downtime and operating expenses. Preventative maintenance will be help detect tiny problems before they become a major and costly fix.

Follow the user manual

The user manual that comes with each forklift is often completely ignored. Did you know these guides contain a wide range of useful information that will help you maximize your safety and uptime? A maintenance section with scheduled service intervals is included in this material. This section also explains how and went to properly replace and maintain parts, and fluids. By ensuring you adhere to these guidelines, you’ll extend the useable life of your forklifts considerably.

These are various parts of the manual that provide an overview of the best operating practices in addition to the maintenance requirements. It’s important to discuss this information with operators on a frequent basis because it helps to improve both safety and productivity. If you’ve misplaced your user manual, get in touch with our team right away to get a replacement!

Train your operators

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates forklift operating and safety certificates. In most Canadian provinces, certificates are also required by law, making adequate training obligatory for all activities. Not only can proper training lower the chance of safety mishaps, but it also has a number of other advantages. As a result of proper training, the danger of damage to the forklift will be greatly diminished.

Operators must know how to execute a pre-shift inspection in addition to receiving operational training. Operators can detect flaws with the equipment by completing this inspection. You’ll save money by avoiding a large-scale repair if these problems are handled early on. This will also help to prevent wear on moving parts, allowing your forklift to last longer. Make sure your operators are well-trained if you wish to maximize safety, value, and production.

Keep your workplace clean

It’s critical to keep your facility clean in addition to maintaining it, keeping records, and providing training. Excessive dust and debris from the floor can build up inside your equipment, causing more wear. Debris or wet surfaces can also damage tires or even flip your forklift over. This is a major safety issue as well as can cause damage to your equipment. As a result, it is critical that a regular cleaning regimen is maintained.

Match the forklift to the application

During our on-site evaluations, we find a lot of companies are using the wrong forklift for their operation. This usually happens as your business and material handling requirements evolve over time. You may be transporting small amounts of lumber a few years ago, but now you’re hauling larger loads as your numbers increase. You may think you’re saving time and money by keeping the same forklift, but this puts more strain on your equipment and causes premature failures. Unnecessary servicing and downtime will end up costing more than upgrading your equipment.

On the flip side, having underutilized forklifts or equipment that’s overpowered means unnecessary spending. When you find yourself in this situation, you’ll want to consider downsizing to a fleet that is utilized properly.

Not quite sure what equipment is right for you? Reach out to our team and ask about an on-site assessment! Our fleet management team can help determine what and how many machines are right for you and your application.

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