The level of maintenance a forklift receives is a crucial factor in its performance and longevity. Forklifts are among the most rugged and reliable of machines and are designed to operate in tough conditions. However, forklifts need to be regularly serviced; there is no substitute for good maintenance. It ensures forklifts can perform at optimum levels; it can detect and rectify minor problems before they affect productivity, and will prolong a forklifts life.
The first step in determining the frequency, in which a forklift needs to be inspected, is to make an engineering analysis of the equipment, considering the following points:
• Age, condition and value
• Severity of service
• Safety requirements
• Hours of operation
• Service record
• Susceptibility to wear, damage and getting out of adjustment
• Past maintenance work order
It is also helpful to conduct interviews with maintenance personal and operating supervisors.
A maintenance schedule should specify tasks to be performed daily, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.
Adherence to a maintenance program will help keep a forklift in good condition, prolong its useful life and minimise downtime and costs associated with major repairs.
Forklift operators should perform daily maintenance at the beginning of each shift.
They should visually inspect for leaks, obvious damage, and tyre condition, the operation of safety lights, service, parking brakes, horn, and steering. They should then check the mast operation by raising and lowering the forks both with and without a load, and finally check the levels of engine oil, fuel, radiator water and hydraulic fluid.
Performed after every 200 hours of operation by a trained mechanic and can include:
• Lubrication of chassis and mast components
• Replacement of engine oil
• Cleaning of the air filter element
• Adjustment of engine idle speed and ignition timing on engine powered trucks
• Inspection of lift and tilt cylinder operation, drive belt tension, and for engine powered trucks, spark plugs, distributor point, cap and rotor
Every 600 hours and can include:
• Inspection of pedal free play, hand brake, lift chain tension, mast operation, carriage rollers, lift and tilt cylinder operation, hydraulic oil pump, differential and transmission oil, fuel filter, positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve, and hoses on engine powered trucks
• Cleaning the radiator exterior and replacing the fuel filter
• Replacement of the hydraulic filter
• Draining of the water separator on diesel trucks
• Adjustment of the clutch release bearing (standard shift trucks), mast support bushing, tilt cylinder pins and chassis links
Every 1,200 hours and can include:
• Inspection of the brake booster operation
• Torqueing the engine head bolts and manifold nuts
• Replacement of brake fluid, wheel bearing grease, engine coolant, fuel filter, fuel strainer element and water separator on diesel trucks
• Keep forklifts clean so it is easier to detect worn or defective parts. Clean with water, not flammable liquids.
• Use only a trained, qualified person to inspect, maintain or repair forklifts.
• Use only licensed gas fitters to repair and/or replace parts on LPG forklifts.
• Establish a procedure for dealing with unsafe or damaged forklifts, including tagging the vehicle and reporting the problem to the appropriate person.
• Use only qualified tyre fitters to remove and fit tyres.
• Keep all moving parts well lubricated.
• Keep your forklift charged or fuelled.
• Ensure forklift gauges are functioning properly at all times.
Proper maintenance of a forklift will help prevent major downtime and repair expenses.