Evaluating The Condition Of A Used Forklift

When it comes time for a warehouse to consider flipping their fleet of forklifts, the first question asked is: Should we purchase new or used lifts?

Understand what you're getting when in the market for a used forklift. (Courtesy: Bob Blaylock

Take nothing fore granted when evaluating a used forklift for purchase.
(Courtesy: Bob Blaylock at flickr.com)

Many managers of forklift fleets choose to go with used forklifts because of the savings.

So, if your fleet manager is in the market to buy a fleet of used lifts, he should take a number of things into consideration as he inspects models for purchase. These include:

• The accuracy of the forklifts’ hour meter
• The correct year-of manufacture
• Proper forklift capacity data plate
• Forklift chassis modifications
• Forklift applications

Forklift Hour Meter

When in the market for a used car, the odometer is a center of focus. It measures the number of miles the vehicle has traveled. People buying a used car may be somewhat skeptical about the true reading of the odometer.

The same should be true for a forklift fleet manager who is inspecting a used forklift’s hour meter. The hour meter tracks the number of hours a particular forklift has been in use. The information gathered from this meter helps determine when maintenance is necessary on certain parts or on all of the lift.

Most forklift hour meters display four digits starting from 0000 and ending at 9999. When the lift is operated for 10,000 hours, the display will read 0000. Any additional hours added to the operation of the lift would give a false understanding of the true hours the lift has been driven. For example, after the lift reaches 0000, then the meter begins the count at 0001, giving a false indication of the true number of hours used. So when your fleet manager sees the display on the hour meter read 1,999 hours, the machine may have actually been used for 11,999 hours.

In addition, if an hour meter on a lift has been disconnected or has stopped due to a mechanical failure, then any additional hours will not appear on the meter. So the forklift could have been operated for many more hours than is displayed. And when the old meter is replaced with a new one, the count begins at 0000.

Therefore, it is essential that your fleet manager inspect the lift’s records to ascertain the true number of hours worked.

Moreover, some forklifts have hour meters that measure different types of usage including drive hours, hydraulic pump hours, etc. So it is essential that your fleet manager understand what the reading means.

Year of Manufacture

Your forklift fleet manager needs to verify the actual year of manufacture before ever committing to purchase a used lift. The manager should call the manufacturer of the lift with its model and serial numbers in hand and ask them to confirm the true year of manufacture. He should not depend on seeing a year of manufacture on a dealer invoice or when looking through miscellaneous records.

Forklift Capacity Data Plate

Every individual forklift has on it a data plate that among other things shows the lift’s capacity. No doubt, with the case of a used forklift, attachments and accessories have been added or removed with or without the manufacturer’s approval. So the capacity rated on the data plate would be inaccurate and anyone who operates the lift could be at risk of an accident because he or she had a misunderstanding of the true capacity of the lift. Therefore, it is essential for the fleet manager to make certain that the data plate has the correct capacity for safety and liability reasons.

Forklift Chassis Modifications

No doubt, a used forklift has clocked a lot of time in operation. During that time it is not unreasonable to assume that the lift has been through some repairs that involves welding, heating or drilling of the chassis. The manufacturer of the lift may not have authorized these repairs. It is suggested that you not purchase these lifts because the manufacturer is likely not to stand behind them in the event of an accident that causes injury. The repair work may have weakened the structural integrity of the lift and may cause it to fail prematurely. Your fleet manager should also be aware that counterweights might have been added to the machine without manufacturer approval. This can contribute to an unstable lift and cause wear and tear on the lift’s chassis.

Forklift Application

Harsh use of a used forklift effects the wear and tear on its chassis. Applications that offer the most wear include fish processing, foundry, and stevedoring among others. Try to determine the history of the used lift before committing to a purchase. Be sure to have a reputable forklift-servicing dealer inspect the lift and make a thorough mechanical and safety assessment.

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