When to Replace Old, Less Efficient Forklifts

Replacing older, inefficient forklifts can save you in maintenance costs, improve productivity, and save money as you maximize your return of investment. (Courtesy: Michael Coughlan at flickr.com)

Replacing older, inefficient forklifts can save you in maintenance costs, improve productivity, and save money as you maximize your return of investment.
(Courtesy: Michael Coughlan at flickr.com)

Like it or not, all working equipment, even humans, are replaced because they have become too old to perform efficiently. That certainly isn’t anything to be ashamed of. However, it is humbling to hang on to equipment and keep using them beyond their time.

One such equipment that is used a lot in a warehouse that falls into this category are forklifts.

Replacing older, inefficient forklifts at just the right time can save you loads of cash in maintenance costs, improve productivity, and save money as you maximize your return on investment.

The question that plagues warehouse managers is: When should we replace our forklifts? Just as it is costly to hang on to them too long, it is also costly to replace what you currently have with new ones too soon.

Lifespan of a Forklift

When determining the lifespan of a forklift you need to consider the economic life of the machine rather than how long it remains useful. Of course, the temptation is to use a lift as long as it works relatively well. That may mean that you keep your lifts for as many as 10 years or more. That sounds like you are saving money. However, because the forklift is not economically effective, you are actually losing money.

So, the first thing you need to do when deciding if you need to replace lifts is to figure out what exactly is their economic lifespan.

There are four things to consider when calculating the economic lifespan of lifts.

· The type of forklift you are using and when it was designed.
· The severity of use.
· The amount of hours it runs per month and per year.
· How often and what kind of maintenance is performed?

It is generally agreed that electric forklifts last longer than gasoline or propane lifts. That is because electric lifts have fewer moving parts than a gasoline model.

Moreover, forklifts that operate in extreme temperatures, brine or corrosives will experience a shorter lifespan. Forklifts that work within a clean environment with wide aisles will commonly have a longer lifespan.

Of course, the amount of hours you use your forklift each month will have the ultimate affect on your consideration. If the lift is used in multiple shifts per day through a month, then it will need to be replaced sooner than one that has not been used as often.

How well you maintain the lift is essential. A forklift fleet that experiences a regular maintenance program is going to last longer than a fleet that is only periodically cared for or is serviced only when it has to be. A program of regular maintenance can prolong the economic life of a machine by as much as 2,000 hours.

Successful warehouse operations utilize a planned strategy when replacing their forklifts. A rule of thumb that many warehouse managers use is that a forklift that is used between 10,000 to 12,000 hours is a candidate for replacement. However, this varies based on maintenance practices, operating conditions and the type of equipment being used.

It is probably more of an art than a science when deciding when to replace your forklifts. It is probably best that the person who makes the decision is an experienced fleet manager who knows how to evaluate all factors that can influence an aging fleet.

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