A forklift’s job is to keep your operations moving – in many companies, forklifts are doing that around the clock. Because a forklift’s parts, components, and accessories are constantly moving, they inevitably develop wear and tear that, over time, hinder the equipment’s productivity and overall performance.
When your lift truck isn’t functioning at its best, you’re losing time and money to increased downtime. Not maintaining wear and tear can also create an unsafe work environment – the machine could cause injury to its operator, and internal combustion trucks could give off harmful emissions that can negatively impact your workers’ health.
To get as much life as possible out of your forklift, look in these five places that are especially vulnerable to wear and tear:
Forklift tires are designed to be durable and hold a lot of weight, but just like with car tires, need to be replaced when they’re worn out. Bad tires can cause truck and load stability issues, discomfort to operators, damage to forks and undercarriage components, and even facility damage. Here are a few things to look for that indicate you may need to replace your tires:
Worn low: Most forklift tires have a clearly-defined line beneath the tread, often referred to as the 50 percent wear line. If you are close to or have worn through that line, it is time to replace the tire.
Tearing: Look for obvious tears and punctures on the surface of your tires. This type of damage is often caused by running the forklift over debris – a clean and well-swept workspace helps prevent tearing.
Chunking: If pieces of your tires are breaking or peeling off the body, it is time to replace them. Chunking renders the wheel useless, causing truck instability and operator discomfort.
Flat Spots: Flattening typically occurs when the forklift brakes at high speeds. If you notice any bald spots, the tire should be replaced. If the abrupt braking continues more frequently, the operator likely needs re-trained on safe operation of the forklift at reasonable speeds. Frequent sharp halts will not only make you replace your tires sooner than expected but also your brakes.
Bond Failure: Cushion tires have a central metal band with the rubber of the tire bonded to the metal band. If wear and tear near the band is bad enough that you can fit a flat screwdriver head or knife between the tire and band, you are overdue to switch out your tires.
Oil or Grease Stains: The chemicals in oil and grease can eat away at tire rubber over time. Oil or grease on the tires can also hazardously affect control of the forklift. If you see these types of stains, inspect your facility floor and clean the affected areas to avoid other potential hazards.
2. Oil and Air Filters
Your forklift’s oil and air filters protect the engine from preventable damage. A functional air filter keeps dirt and debris from affecting the engine’s performance, and the oil filter ensures clean oil is running through the engine; contaminated oil can increase engine component friction. Both should be replaced at recommended intervals to maintain maximum efficiency.
If you notice you need to replace air filters at a frequent rate, consider investing in solutions to improve the cleanliness of your facility – if it’s affecting your equipment, it’s definitely affecting your operators, too!
3. Mast and Chains
A forklift’s mast and chains experience heavy and frequent demands when in operation. This stress to the machine means these components should be inspected and replaced regularly to maintain safety and efficiency.
The mast is the vertical apparatus at the front of the forklift that allows a load to be raised, lowered, and tilted. One clear sign of wear and tear is metal-on-metal contact. If you hear grinding noises during operation or see visible scrape marks, it may be time to replace the mast.
Forklift chains can perform for thousands of hours of work if properly lubricated. If you notice rust, plate cracking, protruding or turned pins, or broken links, the chain needs to be replaced. These issues can be prevented with proper lubrication.
If you have an electric forklift, battery maintenance is of the utmost importance in maximizing efficiency and minimizing lifetime costs. Batteries have a finite number of charging cycles, so sticking to a charging schedule is critical to maximizing a battery’s life and usefulness – not enough charge at the beginning of a shift means more downtime, and charging too frequently could risk shortening the battery’s life.
For optimal battery performance, regular fluid level checks are necessary. If there is not enough fluid in the battery, you will need to add water – water typically needs to be added every 10 charges. Watering batteries can be a delicate process, as both the type and amount of water are integral in making the battery work well.
MH Equipment can help you increase your battery’s life with preventative maintenance services and battery watering, as well as charger inspections and repair, on all brands of batteries.
A lift truck’s forks experience stress with each load. While they are heavy-duty in construction, they will still wear out over time. Waiting too long to replace worn-out forks will likely lead to more-frequent accidents, such as dropped loads, damaged products, and workplace injuries. Fortunately, these accidents are preventable with regular fork inspections. Here are five critical signs of wear and tear that tell you it’s time to replace or restore your forks:
Surface cracks: Over time, forks can develop cracks from picking up, unloading, and transporting heavy loads. The parts of the fork closest to the equipment and the fork heel tend to obtain the most wear and tear.
Bent or worn fork hooks: Using a caliper, checks the hooks for wear and straightness. If the lip of the hook touches the back of the caliper, you should replace your forks.
More than 10 percent wear: The metal on forks gradually wears down with consistent use, but eventually the forks can no longer handle their original load capacity. Just 10 percent wear can reduce your load capacity by 20 percent, at which point the forks should be replaced. Metal wear is not obvious to notice over time – use calipers to measure the shaft, and compare that measurement to the thickness of the fork blade, heel, and hook to calculate the wear.
Uneven blade height: The tips of both forklift blades should roughly be the same height. If one of the forks differs by more than three percent of the blade length, the forks need to be replaced.
·Bent blade or shank: All forks are delivered with a 90-degree angle. The forks need to be replaced if the blades or shanks are bent more than 93 degrees – while it may look fixed, simply bending the fork back into place will not repair it, as the integrity of the fork is already compromised.
Proper maintenance is the best way to mitigate the harmful effects of wear and tear and increase the longevity of your lift truck.
Regular maintenance can lead to these benefits:
A higher resale value
A safer work environment for operators and other workers
Improved performance of the forklift’s attachments, accessories, and components
Reduced downtime and increased productivity
Cost reductions from identifying smaller problems early on that could potentially lead to larger, costlier problems in the future
Choosing the right partner for high-quality service and responsible recommendations is the first step to combating that inevitable wear and tear. MH Equipment’s certified service technicians can repair all makes and models of material handling equipment and are entrusted to provide recommendations that are right for you and your business. We will also come alongside you to design a service plan that works for you to keep your equipment doing its job and doing it well.
Contact us today to help stop wear and tear from impacting your business.
Railcar movers are built to withstand decades of use as they contribute to keeping supply chains moving. To realize the full potential of your railcar mover, keeping your machine well-maintained becomes a priority to avoid breakdowns that can create costly downtime for your business.
Downtime is expensive, time-consuming, and interruptive to your operations. It is also often the repercussion of not effectively maintaining your railcar mover over time. In an effort to save you money, time, and other resources, here are three recommendations that can help maximize the usable life of your railcar mover:
1. Be diligent with your recommended maintenance schedule.
One of the best ways to protect your investment in your railcar mover is to be mindful of your operational hours and to follow the machine’s recommended maintenance schedule.
Having a periodic maintenance (PM) agreement with MH Equipment that aligns with your railcar mover’s recommended maintenance schedule can minimize any surprise breakdown costs that immediately halt your operations. In MH’s railcar mover PM agreements, our factory-certified technicians can complete a comprehensive maintenance check every 250, 500, 750, 1000, and 2000 hours, checking components like oils, filters, lines and fittings, couplers, and more.
Sometimes, however, maintenance emergencies happen on the clock, and you need to get back up and running. At MH Equipment, we understand the urgency of every service call because we know the importance of the railcar mover to your business. That’s why we offer 24/7 onsite service* options with our skilled technicians, backed with a vast parts inventory.
We know your time is valuable, and we understand you can’t always wait for repairs. MH Equipment also offers short- and long-term rental agreements to help you keep moving forward with your business.
2. Have your operators take a minute to visually inspect the railcar mover before operation.
Your operators play a crucial role in the life of your railcar mover – they are the eyes and feet on the ground that can identify any issues before they become a significant safety or maintenance problem. Here are a few items operators can easily inspect before operation:
While this is not a complete list, it is best to have your operators perform a “daily inspection checklist” before they start their shift. A visual inspection can indicate obvious maintenance issues, but following the recommended maintenance schedule will ensure you’re getting the most out of your railcar mover for as long as possible.
3. Empower your operators with the knowledge and skills to be successful.
One of the best things you can do to keep your railcar mover up and running is having trained operators at the helm. Proper training gives your staff a well-rounded view of all operational aspects, from safety best practices and troubleshooting and maintenance when something is not running as it should.
It is also important to offer refresher training to your employees. Over time, operators may develop bad habits, such as taking safety shortcuts – these bad habits can create productivity and safety issues, or even unnecessary maintenance costs, for your business. A trained operator will be a safer operator, which minimizes excessive wear and tear to the machine and keeps productivity high.
At the end of the day, your company is losing money if your equipment is not up and running. MH Equipment’s team of railcar mover specialists can assist you in finding effective solutions to your downtime and maintenance issues – visit www.mhrailcarmover.com or call your nearest MH Equipment location to get in contact with one of them today.
*Available for Rail King, Trackmobile, and Shuttlewagon models.
Special Post from Grant Wilkerson, MH Equipment Director of Safety and Loss Control
You have most likely heard the expression, “Old habits die hard.” If you don’t believe it, just move your silverware to a different drawer and see how many times you keep going to the original drawer to get a fork. At my home, we remodeled our kitchen more than two years ago and I still can’t consistently find my favorite popcorn bowl.
Old habits are a key factor that continually leads to avoidable injuries. We tend to do things the way we’ve always done them, especially if there were no negative consequences.
For example, if you’ve worked on an engine while it’s running and weren’t cut by the fan blade, you often tend to go about it the same way the next time. You assume you will avoid the fan blade again. Just because we avoided an injury in the past by not controlling obvious hazards doesn’t mean we’ll avoid an injury in the future by not controlling those hazards.
Grab the Moment, MH Equipment's safety philosophy is specifically designed to help us interrupt and break our bad habits and keep ourselves safe. It isn’t hard, it doesn’t take much time and it definitely works. By stopping for just a moment to ask ourselves, “What could go wrong or possibly injure me?” we identifying potential hazards. We get a safe start before performing the task at hand. That, however, is not enough to stay safe.
To better ensure our safety, we must stop, Grab the Moment, and identify any potential hazards. It is of great importance that we take steps to eliminate or control any hazards. For example:
Your personal safety is determined by the amount of time you take to identify potential hazards and the effort you put into controlling or eliminating them. It is imperative you make a deliberate effort each and every day because after all, “our old habits die hard.”
Grab the Moment!
Stay Safe in the Moment!
National Forklift Safety Day is June 9th, 2020. To celebrate our CEO, John Wieland, and COO, Coit Edison, wanted to share the value our employees bring to MH Equipment and how we make it our goal for every employee to go home safely at the end of every day. Safety is important to think about every day - Do your part to Stay Safe in the Moment!