Of the many pieces of equipment in a warehouse, forklifts are one of the most prevalent and important. The International Truck Association pointed out that most, if not all, products sold in the U.S. are carried by a forklift at some point in their delivery.
Functional forklifts contribute to distribution centers and warehouses that run smoothly and efficiently. On the other hand, inoperative lift trucks can slow down operations or cause them to come to a standstill. Further, forklifts in need of repair could become unsafe to operate and dangerous to drivers or other employees working in the same area as the lift truck.
To accommodate a smooth workflow in your warehouse or distribution center, it’s important to ensure your forklifts are in top condition.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires that every forklift be inspected on a daily basis. This look-over should be conducted at the beginning of the day, or between shifts if the truck is used on a continual basis.
— ITA (@IndTrk) January 25, 2017
The review should include an inspection of all fluids, tire pressure, forks and their retaining pins and heels, hydraulic hoses and chains, the load backrest extension and all safety devices – including the seat belt. If anything looks wrong or is showing signs of deterioration or failure, the truck shouldn’t be used until the problems are addressed.
Once this pre-operation inspection is completed, operators should turn on the truck and continue the evaluation. Check the steering, brakes, forward and reverse driving, lifting and lowering functionality, lights, the horn and back-up alarm and tilt control.
Again, if something isn’t working properly – especially a safety feature, like mirrors, light communications systems, horns and alarms – the lift truck should be taken out of operation immediately until the problems are addressed.
Signs your forklift needs maintenance
In carrying out the necessary daily inspection, workers should keep an eye out for worn tires; if the wear line meets the top of the tire, it’s time for new ones. Tire pressure should also be right; over- or underinflated tires need to be fixed.
If the forks look damaged, it’s time for them to be repaired or replaced. There should be no surface cracks and no warped or bent metal. The two forks should be at the same height; uneven forks could cause materials to be improperly handled.
Hoses need to be replaced if they’re cracked or starting to show signs of wear like blistering or discoloration.
Potential hazards for forklift drivers
Even after the daily inspection is completed, it’s important for drivers to stay alert of potential problems that could arise throughout their shifts. For example, if a hose that looked fine before suddenly springs a leak, the liquid could create a slip hazard for other employees. A spill can also cause forklifts to skid, creating a greater safety hazard.
Additionally, depending on the type of fluid, it could become a fire hazard. The spill should be cleaned up immediately, and the leaking truck should be put away until the problem is fixed.
Mechanical breakdown and overheating of the forklift are also real possibilities during a person’s shift. At the first signs of these problems, the operator should take the truck out of operation and the problem should be addressed.
Planned maintenance for forklifts
In addition to daily inspections, forklifts should also go through a cycle of planned maintenance. Daily inspections do not replace the need for everyday overviews, but complement them. If there’s something overlooked during daily inspections, or if a problem is just beginning to surface, preventative maintenance should catch the issue before it progresses.
“Preventative maintenance plans do not replace the need for everyday overviews.”
The manufacturer of your forklifts should have reliable advice about how to schedule planned maintenance. It’s a good idea to strategically choose when to conduct this task. For example, you wouldn’t want to remove trucks from operation during the busiest week or month of the year.
Instead, look ahead to see when your busiest times of year are and try to schedule your planned maintenance beforehand. This way, scheduled downtime won’t occur when your trucks are most needed, and you’ll reduce the chances of an unforeseen issue causing trucks to be taken out of service during this period of time as well.
Taking a truck out of operation
Reducing the number of operational lift trucks at your facility isn’t an ideal situation. However, if there’s something wrong with one or more of your forklifts, it’s necessary to do so.
To get back up and running as soon as possible, be sure you have a company you can turn to at a moment’s notice, like Miner Corp. When you need emergency forklift repairs, reach out to our professionals and we’ll dispatch an expert to your location to see what needs to be done.