Like an annual trip to your local physician for a check-up, a well thought out Planned Maintenance agreement with a qualified and reputable service company can dramatically increase the longevity of your equipment as well as significantly reduce your operating costs. Conversely, operating forklift equipment without planned maintenance or allowing an inexperienced company manage your program, can result in increased operating costs, downtime and reduced useful life of your forklifts.
Particularly during times when budgets are strained it is easy to “take the bait” on low-priced introductory PM rates. Statistics show that it takes a minimum of 1-1 1/2 hours to perform a proper PM on an standard Electric or IC unit and 30-45 minutes on an electric walkie. Ask for the stated hourly labor rate or your prospective provider. If the math doesn’t pan out, something is going to suffer and it’s usually the amount of care paid to your forklifts.
Do you know how many of your forklifts are being serviced according to the schedule laid out in the agreement? If you are entertaining a new service provider asking for their completion rates is not only appropriate, it’s essential. And if your prospective provider does not know their completion rates, they are not keeping tabs on them, which likely means your forklifts are not going to be serviced on time.
You have a lot riding on your forklift fleet every day. Productivity and employee safety are right at the top of the list. There’s no better way to find out what kind of service to expect from your prospective service provider than to ask their current customers. Get a short list of three to four companies and give them a call.
Like the old Fram Oil Filter commercial whose moniker as “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later”, ignoring small costs now leads to bigger costs down the road. But what does that mean and what causes this?
From a safety standpoint, making sure that your forklifts are operating safely is important. As part of OSHA’s regulation of forklifts (29CFR 1910), “preventive” or planned maintenance is recommended. Ignoring this recommendation can be costly in the event of a workplace accident due to parts that give way, or an operator that slips on or around the equipment due to lack of maintenance. It’s not only the fines that can result, but the legal costs that undoubtedly will be incurred if a company has not followed the recommendations of OSHA.
Working with a company that asks questions can optimize and reduce the cost of, your Planned Maintenance program. If your forklifts operate under extreme conditions (lifting heavy loads, in the heat, bad weather, cold storage, multi-shift etc…) they will need increased attention. However, if your forklifts are lighter duty and are used less than a full shift, they will not need as frequent visits by your service tech. Knowing how often your forklifts need to be serviced is a product of experience. Be sure your service provider asks questions and listens.
As required by OSHA, a daily inspection is required of each and every forklift you operate. This daily inspection extends beyond the typical lights, alarms, seat-belt, brakes and accelerator that we frequently see. The required inspection elements include belts and hoses, engine oil level, engine coolant, air filter and brake reservoir to name a few.
You can learn a lot by visiting your prospective service provider. How orderly is the parts department? Ask about their processes. Ask to see how they track Planned Maintenance and meet the people that will be responsible for managing your fleet’s Planned Maintenance program. Is the facility clean? Are the grounds well kept? A sloppy and disorderly facility usually means you can expect the same for your Planned Maintenance program.
Our experience is that there are few qualified resources in any given city that can execute a proper Planned Maintenance program. You spend tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire this equipment, why not put it in the hands of a company that understands them and has extensive experience with them. You want someone that you know will be here for the long-haul, and can stand behind the work that they perform. OSHA only requires that a forklift be service by and “authorized” personnel. We feel however that while “authorized” is not defined, you certainly want to be sure that your service company is sufficient to stand the litmus test of having extensive experience to understand the complete spectrum of forklift maintenance.
Thompson & Johnson performs thousands of forklift PM’s every year and know what it takes to optimize your Planned Maintenance program and would appreciate the opportunity to speak to you about your current, or help you establish a customized Planned Maintenance program for your forklift fleet. With over 70 technicians covering Upstate New York we will be able to help anywhere.
If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.