Lift Truck Maintenance is Crucial for the Warehouse
Published on Oct 14, 2019
Every year, 100 warehouse workers are killed in lift truck-related accidents.
In fact, every year, just over 100,000 reported forklift accidents occur in warehouses across the United States. Roughly 34 percent of those accidents lead directly to an injury. According to OSHA, most of these accidents are caused by human operator error. However, a large portion are contributed to mechanical failures.
Routine maintenance of lift trucks and other mechanical warehouse equipment is a crucial task.
So, how do warehouses perform lift truck maintenance? Better yet, how can you improve upon your own lift truck maintenance efforts?
The Keys to Completing Effective Lift Truck Maintenance
Warehouses use multiple types of lift trucks and many of them are made by different manufacturers. Furthermore, each type of forklift requires unique parts, most of which simply wear out with continued use.
To integrate a solid lift truck maintenance program, warehouse managers must understand that all maintenance procedures are not the same. Some manufacturers require monthly service checks (in order to cover warranties), while others set their service schedules to a bi-annual basis.
Regardless of the make or model of the lift truck you use, there are a few proven methods that are essential for planning and implement maintenance programs.
Work Directly with Manufacturers Whenever Possible
There are several forklift companies that demand (or heavily recommend) that their certified, in-house service experts come to your location and complete maintenance service. While this might be more expensive than hiring an independent lift truck repair service, it’s worth the extra expenditure for several reasons.
Reduces repair or maintenance mistakes: Direct manufacturer repair and service technicians are specially trained on the specific equipment made by that manufacturer. This means that the potential of mistakes made during maintenance is greatly reduced. Many of the independent contractors are more general in nature. While they may excel in various forklift models, many may not be fully aware of specific details on the function of more specialized equipment.
Can Save Money: When you purchase a forklift directly from a manufacturer, it’s quite common to purchase an ‘extended service plan’. This amount can be packaged into the overall payment, which means it can be a capitalized expense. This saves you money every month.
Quicker service: Direct manufacturer maintenance providers are also rather flexible with their schedules. Better yet, they only work on specific brands or types of lift trucks. They can get to you quicker and through their specialized knowledge, can get the job done in a timely manner.
Focus on Improving the Warehouse Conditions
A leading cause of forklift or lift truck damage is debris on the warehouse floors, improper height for steel, or poor warehouse configuration.
One way to reduce the potential of warehouse damage is to enact a daily procedure for cleaning the warehouse floors. This includes removing broken pallets, nails, or other items that can cause damage or otherwise present a hazard.
Here are a few more specific tips:
Make sure all forklift lanes of operation are clear of debris, always
Clean up spills immediately
Repair concrete cracks and damage to asphalt
Enforce a lift truck speed limit
Teach Operators About Daily Inspections
With more than 60% of lift truck accidents being caused by operator error, continual training of operators is a crucial component of any warehouse safety program. However, it’s also helpful with maintenance. Through a well-rounded training program, they learn how to complete a detailed daily inspection.
The daily inspection is a quick, 5-minute pre and post-trip inspection (similar to what CDL drivers complete). It checks the condition of the lift truck systems, such as the hydraulics, wheels, and controls. If anything is discovered, the lift truck is tagged as requiring repair, taken out of service, and a back-up unit is brought into operation.
Many lift truck manufacturers offer driver training for this vital daily checklist, so inquire with them to see if they can help.
Lift truck maintenance can save lives, reduce injuries, and maintain the operational efficiency of basic warehouse operations. And while it may take some time, forward-thinking and money to integrate a decent maintenance program, it remains absolutely crucial.
Want to save yourself some time setting up your maintenance programs? If so, you need to partner with a knowledgeable 3PL!