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Keeping your forklift fleet running efficiently requires a substantial investment. While the biggest costs typically are fuel and labor, repairing and replacing broken or unusable forklifts can quickly eat up a hole in your operation’s budget.
By creating and maintaining a regular schedule for properly servicing and maintaining the vehicles in your fleet, you can prolong their operational life, keep them in service longer, and increase the efficiency and profitability of your operation.
Create a Tracking System
Reducing fleet management costs begins with tracking and analyzing data related to the maintenance of your vehicles. While information about when your vehicles required service and repairs won’t give you the full picture, it will point out your fleet’s biggest weaknesses and where you should focus so that you can reduce operating costs and improve their operational time.
Among the most common breakdowns for aging forklift fleets are:
- Forklfit tire damage caused by running over debris rough floor surfaces
- Fluid levels not being checked regularly
- Poor battery maintenance, especially due to improper checking and filling of water levels
- Damage caused by operators
- Damage caused by floors, ramps and docks in need of repair
If your vehicles are commonly being taken out of service for one or more of these reasons, providing a solution is relatively simple. If you don’t do it already, begin by requiring work orders for each forklift that is taken out of service, then track the maintenance procedures on a spreadsheet that is kept in a hard file, electronically, or both.
Then require a manager to review this data according to a regular schedule — month, quarterly, and so on — so that the most common breakdowns can be identified and addressed.
Develop a Maintenance Response
Once you know what is causing your forklift fleet to be inefficient, you can then take steps to improve fleet performance. This includes planning maintenance to be performed at the proper hour intervals based on your particular work load.
Fluids and filters should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Although there is a temptation to “let it roll” a little longer than it should, these guidelines were established by the vehicles original designers and engineers, and need to be followed in order to get the most use and efficient operations out of the vehicle as possible.
Require your operators to conduct safety inspections every time they use the vehicle. These should signed, dated, collected and filed to improve accountability and to enhance the accuracy of the maintenance reporting process.
Seeking Outside Help
If you aren’t performing maintenance on your fleet yourself, find a reputable forklift service company and provide access to your online maintenance data. When selecting a service company, always make sure in advance what services will be covered.
For example, will the company track response time and how long to arrive on site whenever you place a service call? How do they track service call completion? What steps will they take to try to improve response time and client satisfaction?
Finding the best forklift service provider in your area that can respond quickly to your needs is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to restrict downtime and improve operational efficiency.