Issues Involving Forklift Fleets

Forklift issues do not begin and end with just one forklift. Warehouses actually use a fleet

Forklift fleet. (Courtesy: U.S. Dept. of Defense at flickr.com)

Forklift fleet.
(Courtesy: U.S. Dept. of Defense at flickr.com)

of forklifts in order to perform operations efficiently. In order to sustain an efficient operation you have to plan for the entire fleet.

Making certain that your forklift fleet is performing as effectively as possible involves good communication, software, and good planning.

Communication

Good communications among warehouse managers, technicians, and forklift operators is essential. The opinions and observations of all three is essential if you want efficient operation.

The process should start with the forklift operator, who should be constantly checking the condition of his forklift and should immediately connect with a technician when a repair becomes necessary.

Technicians should have the responsibility of keeping a detailed accounting of what has been repaired, how often a repair is necessary, and what the warranty coverage is on the parts being repaired. This will assist management to measure the affordability of the way the fleet is monitored and when it is necessary to come up with alternative methods that might reduce costs.

Fleet Management Software

Consider using computer software that assists in managing the forklift fleet. Such software will help managers know about expenses, identify problems, and help make changes that would significantly benefit operating costs. The software will give you a good knowledge of what equipment is being used, how it is being used, and when it is being used.

Planning

Plan out the maintenance routine of your forklift fleet. For example, categorize the fleet by age –- new, middle, and old. This will help you manage and predict repairs, which again assists in benefiting the budget’s bottom line.

Breaking your fleet up by age can help you determine what forklift is worth or not worth repairing. It helps you determine what you should be willing to spend on each category.

It is obvious that forklifts grow old and will some day need to be retired from the fleet. Monitoring your fleet by age will help you avoid repairs on forklifts that will be retired anyway.

If you ignore the age factor, then you may find yourself using forklifts longer than you should and keep wasting money on repairing a lift instead of replacing it.

Planned Fleet Replacement

To be successful in managing your fleet of forklifts, you need to have a planned replacement strategy.

Generally speaking, forklifts have a lifespan of about 10,000 to 12,000 hours. However, this can vary due to maintenance practices, the operating condition of the lifts, and the type of lifts you are using.

It is the responsibility of a fleet manager to determine when it is time to replace obsolete lifts. A plan for fleet replacement can result in substantial cost savings.

A successful fleet replacement plan is based on life-cycle management of that fleet. Life-cycle management calls for the fleet manager to manage all the different expenses and revenues involved in the operation of a vehicle during its operational life. Life-cycle costs include acquisition, license, insurance, fuel, maintenance, repair, salvage, debt expense, administration, accidents, inventory, and downtime.

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