Outsourcing Lift Truck Maintenance

There is a trend in the use of lift trucks. More companies have opted to lease rather than

Under some circumstances it is more cost effective to outsource the maintenance and repair of your fleet of lift trucks. (Courtesy: Naval Surface Warriors at flickr.com)

Under some circumstances it is more cost effective to outsource the maintenance and repair of your fleet of lift trucks.
(Courtesy: Naval Surface Warriors at flickr.com)

buy them. The lease phenomenon is growing because distribution centers are learning about the added costs of owning their fleet rather than leasing it. These businesses have learned that if they buy a fleet of trucks, then the chances are greater that they will use the trucks beyond their economic life.

Warehouse managers have discovered that owning older trucks results in a cost curve increase, which translates into higher costs to own. Moreover, companies are becoming aware that maintaining and repairing trucks are not their expertise. They have also discovered that maintaining lift trucks is a lot more expensive when done in-house.

Consider this. If you own a fleet of electric truck lifts for more than five-to-seven years, the most significant cost liabilities are on the truck itself and the battery that powers it.

Amortize those costs over the length of a lease and you discover that battery charging and maintenance are on-going expenses. If any numbers of your trucks are not busy due to bad maintenance, then the result is lower productivity. If you decide to rent a truck when a truck of your own is not running, then you have to include those costs with the costs of maintenance. No doubt, you can figure out where this is going.

Leasing your trucks and outsourcing the chore of maintaining and repairing them can actually save your business a lot of coin.

Many dealers who sell the trucks also lease them and often include a maintenance and repair program in the agreement.

Dealers who do this commonly stock parts at their own facilities or have a source from whom they can order parts and get them delivered quickly. Moreover, these dealer programs include the renting of a truck to replace the broken down truck while it is being repaired. The obvious result is that there is no down time simply because a truck needs repair.

Outsourcing the task of maintenance and repair can also mean that service is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If you don’t need that intense a coverage, then the dealer can tailor the availability of maintenance with your needs.

Service quality of the company performing the work needs to be strongly considered when selecting a company to do the work. How good a company is can be observed from the very first service call.

If you do decide to lease and outsource maintenance and repair, then you need to be certain that the process of maintaining and repairing a down truck is achieved quickly. That takes communication between the warehouse and the company performing the service. Good communications starts with assigning someone at the distribution center to monitor the trucks and respond quickly when one or more need servicing. This not only assures that maintenance and repairs are performed fast, it also assures the development of a relationship between you and the service provider.

People who have experience in monitoring trucks suggest that you should schedule regular maintenance with the service provider every 500 hours or so.

Keep track of the trucks on such manners as the total amount of time a truck is used, the abuse the truck has experienced over the duration of the lease, the truck’s age and its total maintenance, repair, and operations costs. This will help you determine when to retire an old costly truck and lease a new one. For example, if you are forking out $10,000 a year on repairs and maintenance for a 7-year old truck, then it’s probably time to lease a new one.

Take advantage of the relationship you have developed with the service provider. Enquire from them advice on truck use and future equipment leasing. They can help you balance your fleet and advise you as to the proper equipment to use for an application.

Many experts on this issue suggest that you source from more than one vendor. Many companies have been known to use four to six different vendors.

Don’t be afraid to check out their references when selecting a service provider. Pick one that can provide you with a complete program.

About Robert J