Five Things Your Forklift Might Tell You, if They Could Talk

Talking ForkliftEach day, your forklift bears the brunt of your material handling operation. It works hard for you day after day, rarelycomplaining about the workload or its surroundings. Occasionally it tells you something is wrong, by breaking down. But waiting for a breakdown is expensive. Repairs are more costly once a breakdown occurs and breakdowns can create dangerous situations at your facility. Have you ever wondered what a forklift might tell you, if it could talk? We did, and came up with the following:

  1. “I’m not getting inspected frequently enough.”  Although OSHA requires pre-shift inspections, few companies require them. Pre-shift inspections ensure that if I get sick, you catch it quickly, before it becomes a dangerous and costly situation. You can find forms to help my operators inspect me on Valley Industrial Trucks’s forklift safety page.
  2. “I think my operators need more training.” They jerk me from forward to reverse, to forward again, putting a strain on my transmission. They don’t slow down at intersections or use my safety features as frequently as they should. My horn is rarely used, I don’t have any strobe lights and I’m afraid I might end up in an accident. I don’t want to get hurt and I sure don’t want to hurt anyone else. I think we need some additional operator training.
  3. “My co-workers need more attention.” You put all of us on the same service cycles. The other guys work harder, lift more weight, more frequently and need to be seen by your forklift service pros more often. Give them a call.
  4. “My feet hurt.” These tires are old, they have chunks missing, they’re worn and at the end of the day, I can’t wait to stop and give them a break. Worn and damaged tires use more fuel, make my operator more fatigued and create a dangerous work environment. When’s the last time you inspected my tires carefully?
  5. “I’m shocked at how my electric friends are being treated.” I run on gas, but my electric friends are always complaining about their batteries, that the water levels aren’t inspected enough and they get hot all too often. They also complain about how they get charged at weird times and it doesn’t feel good. Maybe you should talk to their operators about how they use their electric forklifts. I’m told batteries are really expensive and making them last as long as possible is best for everyone.

Have you ever wondered what else your forklifts might tell you, if they could talk? Our team of service professionals can share their experience with you to determine the best plan to keep all your forklifts operating at peak efficiency and productivity. Happy and healthy forklifts are more productive and safer for those on them, and around them. Contact Us to speak to a service professional today. Next time you talk to your forklift, you’ll get nothing but “thank you’s” and compliments!


3 Tips to Forklift Fleet Maintenance Optimization

In recent forklift fleet maintenance and management articles, we have discussed the benefits of properly maintaining your equipment. There is no doubt that companies that engage in robust and comprehensive equipment maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets.

Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Following are three tips we suggest in order to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.

Fleet Analysis

We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.

Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.

Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.

Daily Inspections

Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that most companies do not perform pre-shift inspections.  And we can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a call from a customer who has had to lock out a unit as a result of a pre-shift inspection because the unit is not fit for operation.

Pre-shift inspections will results in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios.  Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.

You can find pre-shift inspection forms on our website HERE.

Partner Selection

Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:

  • Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
  • Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
  • Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
  • References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
  • Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.

Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. To discuss your service program with our trained staff of service professionals, please contact us, or call us at 888-375-0829.


5 Major Benefits of Forklift Planned Preventive Maintenance

Like anything else in life, whether it’s your car, your home or even your body, planning and conducting preventive maintenance creates long-term benefits that are well worth the investment. Why would your forklift and other materials handling equipment be any different?

There are many benefits of properly maintaining your forklift fleet and other equipment. We however have seen five major benefits that our customers have enjoyed. Planned Maintenance will:

Lower Your Maintenance Costs
Proactive and preventive maintenance has proven to lower costs by catching small
service issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches.

Improve Useful Equipment Life
Equipment that serviced regularly doesn’t have to be “turned over” as frequently. This lowers your
equipment costs over time.

Increased Productivity
Equipment that is well maintained, doesn’t break down. This improves productivity as well as your
bottom line performance.

Increase Residual Values
When you trade-in your equipment, or sell it to purchase new equipment, well maintained equipment
has proven to have higher values than equipment serviced on an “as needed” basis.

Enhance Facility Safety
Equipment failures can have catastrophic consequences. Properly maintaining your
equipment will improve operator safety, as well as those that work around your equipment.

Having the right partner in maintaining your equipment is as important as selecting the right doctor for your physical. Our trained, experienced technicians perform thousands of Planned Maintenance service calls each year. Learn more about Planned Maintenance, then Contact Us or give us a call at 888-375-0829 for a tailored plan for your equipment and operation.


A Good Reason to Conduct Inspections Other than…”It’s the Law”

Although OSHA requires a pre-shift operational inspection of each piece of forklift equipment, we have found that many companies do not perform them. This practice exposes companies to fines should an OSHA inspection take place. It also puts your company at risk of liability should an accident take place due to a faulty piece of equipment. These two reasons alone should cause most to re-think their pre-shift inspection policy. We suggest a third, very important reason to conduct pre-shift inspections. Catching small maintenance issues is far more cost effective than letting them blossom into giant repair headaches.

Now, don’t get us wrong. We won’t turn down big shop jobs that cost thousands of dollars and were more than ready to perform them for anyone that contacts us. The facts are we have heard many times form clients who conduct regular inspections about damaged hydraulic hoses, tires about to come apart, loose fan belts…and other things that are not reported until a failure occurs. As it often can be when these major failures occur we end up picking your truck up and bringing it back to your shop instead of making the smaller repair at your facility that led to a much more expensive failure.

Like any preventative measures, inspections take a little time, but can pay off big in the long run. For more information on pre-shift inspections please visit the OSHA Powered Industrial Truck website. If you need a pre-shift inspection form you can get it free. Click here for Electric Truck Pre-Shift Inspection Form and here for IC Truck Pre-Shift Inspection Form. And remember, if you find anything not operating properly follow OSHA’s requirement by locking the truck out of service and reporting it to maintenance or call us for service at 888-375-0829.


4 Reasons You Need a Robust Planned Maintenance Program

In any given market, there are many sources to obtain forklift and lift equipment service. Some are “as needed” while others, like Valley Industrial Trucks put together a comprehensive plan to perform periodic or “planned” maintenance on forklift fleets all over the Northeast Ohio corridor.  Forklifts generally do a lot of work, produce a tremendous amount of pressure and heat and internal working parts take a lot of wear on a daily basis. When we talk about planned maintenance to customers, there are many reasons to engage a reliable source, and have a robust program. But it boils down to four main reasons:

  1. Safety – First and foremost, forklifts that are operating within manufacturers normal parameters are safe to operate. Worn chains, forks, tires, brakes or other critical parts can create dire safety hazards and accidents can turn horrible in a moment. In addition, when operators know they are using safely maintained equipment, they are more comfortable, more productive and have a better sense of “having their backs” as company management seeks to provide them with safe equipment to operate.
  2. Lower Costs – Like the old Fram Filter commercial…you can pay me now, or pay me later… usually a LOT more, later. Catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches reduces your overall costs.
  3. Improved Productivity – Forklifts that are in good working order break down far less than those that are not. Forklifts that don’t break down, spend more time in productive capacity. It also reduces rental forklift needs down time and other hidden costs of break downs.
  4. Increased Equipment Useful Life – If maintained properly a forklift will last longer allowing you to get more “bang for your purchase dollar.”

Of course, none of these will apply unless you’re trusting your maintenance to a provider with a history of professional service, well trained technicians that can show you exactly what is performed on a routine Planned Maintenance visit. A professional company will work with you to set up service intervals that make sense for your operation since no two are exactly alike.

Visit our Planned Maintenance Webpage to learn more about our approach. Then Contact Us or give us a call for a quote tailored to your program.