10 forklift maintenance best practices for the new year

By: Josh Flail, Carolina Handling, an authorized Raymond Sales and Service Center

The new year is often a good time to pause and reflect on best practices for forklift maintenance. Sticking to a regular maintenance plan and focusing on best practices can help keep your machines running smoothly for years to come.

If you recently hired new staff or want to reiterate the importance of forklift maintenance to your warehouse team, consider these 10 tips to emphasize the value of following proper maintenance procedures.

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s service schedule. This is typically every 90 days or 100 hours. Keeping parts regularly serviced and updated helps keep small issues from turning into bigger (and likely more-expensive) problems.
  2. Conduct daily checks. Have your operators quickly check basic parts and ensure that everything is in working order before they begin using a forklift. If there’s an issue, they should report it right away.
  3. Keep it clean. Clear debris and dirt from around the radiator weekly to prevent potential overheating. Clean off corrosive substances or substances that may be impossible to remove once hard or set – cement, for instance – right away.
  4. Check hoses. Hydraulic hoses can crack, split, or weep, causing equipment failure when levels drop too low. Replace any damaged hoses at the first sign of stress.
  5. Watch for tire wear. If your forklift operators work in a repetitive pattern (e.g., always turning right), rotate tires regularly to keep the wear even.
  6. Raise the forks before traveling. This prevents forks from scraping or dragging on the ground, which cuts down on wear and tear and fuel waste.
  7. Charge batteries on a schedule. Setting up a charging routine helps extend battery life versus frequent “topping up,” which has the opposite effect.
  8. Set a speed limit. Lift trucks are not meant to travel fast and may require different speeds for different operations. As a general guideline, go 3 mph in racking, 5 mph in transit aisles, and 10 mph in the yard.
  9. Don’t forget about fumes. Operating in a confined space can increase the risk of toxic fume buildup. Make sure to open windows or install fans if using forklifts in small or unventilated areas.
  10. Make time for training. For the safety of your operators (and all of your employees), regular training and certification is essential. This may also be a requirement for insurance coverage.

Your forklifts are an investment, and you want to ensure they are running properly for as long as possible. Use these best practices to keep your fleet running smoothly in 2018.