Like any other piece of warehouse machinery, buying a forklift is a significant investment for your business, and even though it may never leave your warehouse, it's a vehicle the same as the trucks in your fleet or the car you drive. As a result, it needs the same maintenance to ensure it stays healthy throughout the length of its service life. Here is a list of regular maintenance your forklift requires to stay in top condition.
Regularly Scheduled Oil Changes and Fluid Checks
Similar to any other vehicle in your fleet, your forklift's oil should be changed approximately once every 90 days. In fact, if your warehouse also has trucks, consider putting your forklifts on the same maintenance schedule as the trucks in order to make sure they don't get forgotten. Neglecting to regularly change the oil can lead to corrosion in the engine, which can lead to costly parts replacement, or worse, the decommissioning of your equipment altogether. Once you get in the habit of regularly changing the oil, you may also notice that fuel efficiency will go up, saving you money in the long run. When you check your forklift's oil, be sure to check other essential fluids as well. This can include hydraulic fluids, brake fluids, and any other essential fluids that will help keep your machinery running clean and smooth.
Keep an Eye on the Tires
Because your forklift may never leave the warehouse, it becomes easier to forget the mileage it accumulates from traveling through the warehouse over the course of months and years. Like any vehicle, improperly balanced or treaded tires can be hazardous for the health of your machine, and can also present a hazard to your forklift operator and other warehouse personnel as well. While over-inflated tires can cause blowouts, under-inflated tires can lead to handling problems, both of which can lead to accidents. Be sure that your tires are properly balanced and inflated in order to maintain fuel efficiency and safety.
Don't Forget the Brakes
Similarly, maintaining your forklift's brakes should be a matter of health and safety and should be performed with the same level of care by people with proper equipment expertise. In addition to keeping an eye on the brake pads, be sure to schedule regular inspection of calipers and other essential parts of the brake line as well. As with tires, neglected brakes aren't just a matter of efficiency, but a matter of safety for everyone in the warehouse: in fact, 10% of all warehouse and factory injuries are caused by forklifts.
Healthier Operators = Healthier Machine
This may not be something you'd consider immediately when you think of the health and safety issues that come with buying a forklift, but making sure that the forklift components that ensure rider safety and comfort are well-maintained is just as important as any other regular maintenance. If your forklift uses hydraulic seating, make sure that those systems are regularly inspected, and that care is taken to cut down on bouncing and vibration. This will allow operators to work for longer in relative comfort, cutting down on potential injuries and time lost.
Make Sure the Battery is Cared For
Last but not least, make sure that you're looking after the health of your forklift's battery. You can do this by scheduling a time to charge it, such as at the end of every eight-hour shift, or when it dips below a certain percentage. Maintaining a regular charging schedule will help you maximize the life of the battery, which is especially important because forklift batteries are designed with a maximum number of healthy charges in mind. You can also incorporate regular cleaning into your maintenance schedule; many specialty stores will sell equipment or solvents specifically designed for cleaning your battery.
Buying a forklift can be one of the greatest investments you make in the productivity and safety of your warehouse. And if you do your due diligence to ensure that you're maintaining the health and safety of your forklift, you're also taking steps to maintain the health and safety of your operators. This will keep you compliant with OSHA and other regulatory entities and keep you from the pain of buying a forklift all over again when the first one dies prematurely.