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5 Essential Forklift Safety Tips to Improve Forklift Performance

Updated: Jul 19, 2021


Forklifts, being large, heavy, industrial machines, require complete safety precautions to be followed while being operated. Since they are heavy usage machines, it is imperative to regularly maintain the wearable parts of the machine so that it can operate efficiently without any problems. The tasks and industrial applications of forklifts render it important to maintain them for optimal performance and safety.


Below is a list of 5 things that you need to focus on to improve the performance of your forklift.


TIRES


Per industry experts, and tire sales-people, a large percentage of the global forklift fleet is operating on worn-out tires. While many owners do not pay attention to it, it is a safety and occupational hazard to operating forklifts with worn-out tires as even a small mishap can become the cause of a big industrial accident which can lead to loss of life and resources. It is important to check the tire pressure in pneumatic tires to improve performance and avoid accidents. Additionally, you should ensure that your forklift has tires suited for your facility. When you save money on tires, you spend more in fuel! Tires are available in many flavors depending on application and facility. Warehouse forklifts can be outfitted with regular, non-marking, electronics safe, and traction and non-traction variations. As far as pneumatic trucks, you can go the same way, regular, non-marking, ESD safe, Solid Pneumatic, pneumatic, and foam filled, each having their niche.


BRAKES


Brake wear can seriously impact your forklift operations in a negative way. Brake issues should be dealt with preemptively, even more so when the fleet is aging. Your forklift maintenance crew must be able to tell when it is time to replace the brakes by observing if the brakes are acting differently, performing less, or the pedal is getting closer to the floor before the brakes begin to apply. Brakes can become glazed, or can accumulate powder or dust from the shoes being worn. Brakes are very imperative to a safe operation. If one is operating a 5,000# capacity lift truck they must understand that at full load that unit weighs more than 13,500# once you combine the weight of the truck (8,500#) and load (5,000#). You MUST be able to stop that effectively! It is very important to have your hubs turned when you open the brakes for service. Seals are also something that is better to err on the side of caution and should be replaced when the brakes are opened up and that seal is disturbed.


BATTERY MAINTENANCE


A lot of today’s forklifts continue to operate on Lead Acid batteries. Lithium-Ion batteries which have a more efficient charging cycle are the wave of the future. With lead-acid it is imperative to charge and maintain the batteries properly if you want to utilize them for their maximum lifespan. If you charge the forklift batteries for convenience, instead of following a schedule, it can significantly reduce the lifespan of the batteries, unless you are running Lithium-Ion. As a standard operating procedure, it is wise to recharge the batteries at the end of every shift of eight hours, or when the battery has just 30% charge remaining of its total capacity, but because of the quick charging nature of this battery technology you can convenience charge this battery effectively enough to where a significant amount of charge can be seen during the course of a lunch hour, thus keeping the crews loading trucks! Also, with today’s charger technology, they can ensure that the charging will cease as soon as the battery is fully charged. Keeping the charger on even after the battery is fully charged will reduce the lifespan significantly, but this is pretty much a thing of the past.


Additionally, maintain a safe operating temperature and maintain fluids (water) in the battery regularly if it is a chemical battery. Extreme conditions also shorten the lifespan of the power supply source.


OIL CHANGE


It is not a tedious job to track the mileage (in the equipment industry hours are logged in liu of mileage) of your forklift when compared with your family car. Dirty oil in a machine, especially a forklift, can lead to damage, causing problems such as carbon build-up and catalytic converter damage. It is important to change the oil every 200 hours, or less if it is a heavy duty application. If you’re not sure perhaps try it every quarter and keep tabs on the condition the tech finds your machine in. If it needs a tighter interval, it is money well spent! . A regular oil change and tune-up will increase the longevity of your forklift and also fuel efficiency. This improves the overall performance of your forklift.


MAINTENANCE OF MOVING PARTS


Regularly greasing the moving parts of your forklift is an essential activity and should be performed on a scheduled maintenance cycle. Friction in the moving parts will lead to damage and it is critical from a safety and efficiency perspective to keep the moving parts lubricated. If prolonged for an extended period of time, the parts may become so damaged that the only option remaining with you would be the replacement of the parts.


As we have seen above, a forklift needs regular maintenance of its parts to operate efficiently. Any lapse in the maintenance process can lead to serious damages or accidents which are a big liability for your business operations. Follow the aforementioned tips to keep your forklifts maintained so that maximum performance can be ensured.


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