Each forklift in your business plays a vital role in the handling of materials and various products. If you want your forklifts to be highly dependable and operate at their peak efficiency, then you need to ensure that the units are properly maintained. Usually, after the purchase of a forklift, the seller and you sign a Preventative Maintenance (PM) contract, which states that the forklift needs to be serviced every 90 days. But how much maintenance per machine is enough, and how much maintenance is too much?
Regular maintenance on your lift truck contributes to the safe operation of the machine in the workplace. According to OSHA rules concerning the maintenance of lift trucks, a lift truck that is seen as “unsafe to operate” should be removed from service. All necessary repairs have to be performed by authorized personnel only. The manufacturer’s instructions for the lift truck have to be consulted when performing maintenance on it. A forklift is considered unsafe if:
- The machine is missing bolts
- Welds on the machine are broken
- Its tires are missing pieces of rubber
- Its overhead guard has damage
- A gauge is not functioning correctly
What Do Authorized Personnel and Manufacturers Recommend?
Time or Hours: Which One Comes First?
According to forklift maintenance companies, your forklift needs service based on its usage intervals and time intervals. The latter is measured in months and days, while usage intervals are measured in key or pedal hours.
Pedal Hours vs. Key Hours
Key hours refer to the hours that the machine’s key switch is “on.” A variety of hour meters exists on an electric forklift, which measures travel and motor hours. Maintenance intervals are usually based on pedal hours, which refer to the number of hours that the “dead-man pedal” is depressed.
Important Tips To Consider When Servicing Your Forklift
- Choose a clean area in the workplace for servicing your forklift
- Before you start your inspection and repairs, ensure that the engine is shut down and that the hydraulic pressure is released. All moving parts should be secured or lowered to make contact with the ground. Block the wheels, ensure all controls are in neutral, and disconnect any batteries.
- Any stored fuel should be kept free of all contaminants, such as water and dirt. Never store fuel for unlimited periods. The fuel filter should be changed often, and to prevent condensation, the tank should be full.
- Air filters have to be cleaned and inspected regularly, in accordance with its manual.
- Ensure that the grease fittings are clean when lubricating them. Do not cause damage to the bearings by adding excessive grease. Ensure that you know exactly where all the grease fittings are located.
- Hydraulic oil should be kept clean. Hydraulic components wear out quickly when you use contaminated oil. Before storing your forklift for extended periods, clean and lubricate it properly.
- Batteries have to be filled and kept clean all the time. Use an alkaline solution, such as baking soda or ammonia in water, to clean them if they are corroded or become dirty.
- The starter motor should never be over-cranked. Cranking it longer than 30 seconds at a time could cause damage.
- Tire pressures have to be checked daily. The new and original tires have to be of similar style and size.
- Never overload your lift trucks. Overloading could damage the truck’s hydraulics, which causes instability on any rough terrain.
If your lift trucks are used regularly, it is advisable to have on staff a licensed and fully trained technician who could look at your units every 90 days. This technician has to have a list of items with him that need to be maintained at each inspection. Ensure that your lift looks cared for and clean after the maintenance. Always keep a copy on file of all the items that the technician inspected, to present to OSHA if requested.
Before you select a company to service your forklifts, research their service record, their response times, and their first call completion logs. Ask them for references as well, to ensure that they are reliable and trustworthy.