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How Often Should You Replace a Forklift?

In order to ensure your warehouse continues to run as efficiently as possible, it’s important that you know when to replace an old, tired forklift. Often, well-used models will start to affect how well your warehouse operates, meaning it’ll most likely become a hindrance to you the more you use it.

Over time, you’ll find that employees become dissatisfied with the way it runs, especially if it’s worn or exceptionally slow. The more difficult it is to operate, the more frustrated your staff will get, no matter how well trained or experienced they are.

So to avoid the unnecessary problems that were mentioned previously, it’s of the utmost importance that you know when it’s time to replace your material handling equipment. Whether it’s a worn-out forklift, a reach truck or an order picker, you can apply all of this to a wide range of warehouse machinery – helping further when it comes to smooth-running warehouse operations.

But there are some things you can do to elongate the lift of your machines and we’ll be outlining those tips for you in this article. But how can you spot the signs that your forklift needs replacing and should you put plans in place for when that time, eventually, comes? Charnwood Lift Trucks is on hand to explain.

How to prolong the life of your forklift?

There are a number of things you can do to help elongate the life of your warehouse equipment, regardless of the type of machine you have. From regular checks and adequate training to keeping the battery clean and charging electric forklifts properly, there’s also something you can do to keep it running for as long as possible while you acquire the funds for a replacement.

Consider an ongoing maintenance plan

Maintenance should be carried out as regularly as possible in order to keep the machine running and also to ensure it’s safe to use at all times. You should look to conduct regular maintenance checks where the following should be done:
  • Checking if there were any faults the previous day Looking for any leaks coming from anywhere on the machine
  • Keeping an eye on hydraulic fluid levels
  • Visually look for any damage to either the mast or the carriage
  • Chains and fixing bolts should be checked for damage, stretching and that they’re properly lubricated
  • Forks on forklifts and other machines should be checked for cracks, excess wear or just any damage in general
  • Backrests and extensions should be checked to ensure they’re not bent or damaged
  • Attachments should be looked at to ensure they’re in good condition
  • Tyres, wheels and locking nuts should be looked at to ensure treads are intact and that the tyres aren’t cut or bulging. Tyre pressure should also be checked and wheel nuts should be tight
  • Ensure the seat is fastened securely and that the seatbelt can be buckled in securely
  • Check steering to ensure it doesn’t pull to one side or be hard to turn
  • Service the brakes, including parking brakes, on a regular basis
  • Check all controls operate as they should and aren’t obstructed
  • Make sure all lights function properly, both on the dashboard and externally, including headlights, brake lights etc
  • All gauges should be checked to ensure they operate correctly
  • Test the horn – it should be loud and not sound distorted
  • Alarms should be checked – they should be noticeable with a clear sound
  • Check that all safety guards and covers are intact and fastened securely
  • Monitor all fluid levels, including the fuel, coolant and engine oil level
  • The battery shouldn’t be dirty, if it is, clean it
  • Inspect the fan and belts for damage and that they’re at the correct tension

Ensure all operators receive adequate training

For operators, and those on the warehouse floor, to be as safe and secure as possible when on your premises, it’s imperative that your employees are properly trained and have a license to drive forklifts and other types of warehouse equipment.

Depending on whether it’s an electric forklift, an LP gas forklift or a diesel forklift, there might be other training sessions that need to be completed, so bear this in mind if you’re looking to train new staff or retrain your existing employees.

Make sure you charge electric forklifts as effectively as possible

Although many think that there might not be a proper way to charge an electric forklift, there actually is and it’s important that you follow the rules when it comes to charging your electric forklift so as to ensure it remains fully-functional for as long as possible, regardless of whether it’s new or used.

Here’s everything you should keep in mind when charging your electric forklift:

  • Charge it once a day until fully-charged – often, this is done overnight
  • Don’t charge it for short bursts throughout the day
  • Electric forklifts should be taken off charge first thing in the morning and not put back on again until the day is over – it can damage the forklift battery to be taken on and off charge periodically

Keep the battery clean

Keeping the battery as clean as possible, regardless of how old it is, can ensure the forklift runs for as long as possible. There are certain things you can do to ensure it remains in excellent condition, even if it’s second-hand, and those include:

  • Cleaning up any acid spilliages
  • Rinsing your battery every 6 months with water
  • Look after the forklift overall as well as its powersource

Determine the cost of replacing a forklift

Replacing a forklift, especially if it’s brand new, can cost a pretty penny, so it’s important that you understand exactly how much cash you could be parting with to replace your crucial piece of machinery. In terms of determining how many more hours of service a forklift could give you, you should think about how many years you’ve had it already – many continue to work for decades whereas others could burn out within a few years.

If you’re now finding that you’ve spent more on it to repair the forklift that you would like, then it might well be time to consider purchasing a replacement forklift. It doesn’t have to be like-for-like, either, which allows for more flexibility and versatility further down the line. For example, if you have a diesel forklift that needs replacing, it gives you the perfect opportunity to switch to a more eco-friendly solution, like an electric forklift or an LP gas forklift.

To help determine how long you’ve got before a replacement piece of equipment is due, you should consider the following factors:

  • How old your forklift is
  • What the brand’s estimated life expectancy is
  • The number of hours the forklift has been in operation for, approximately
  • How much weight the forklift carries on a regular basis
  • The frequency of operation
  • Tasks and activities you apply your forklift to
  • How often you repair or replace parts and components
  • The amount of money you spend on temporary fixes
  • Whether the forklift is exposed to extreme temperatures on a regular basis

Signs you need to replace your forklift

Aside from answering the aforementioned questions, there are a number of different signs to look out for if you think your forklift needs replacing. This will help to solidify any thoughts you have about swapping out your old, worn machine for a robust, high-quality alternative, whether it’s a brand new forklift or a used machine.

Some of the signs you should be looking out for which will help you to make that final choose include looking for:

  • Cracks or distortions in the chassis or body
  • Broken or exposed wires protruding from any location
  • Wear on the forks themselves – it might be that only the forks need replacing if this is the only thing you spot
  • Distorted, cracked or brittle fork blades – again, it might only be the forks that need replacing rather than the entire vehicle
If you still aren’t sure about whether or not you should replace the forklift or just the forks, then you can call on the experts, like us here at Charnwood Lift Trucks. Our team of experts will be able to inspect the machine for you, giving you a professional verdict on whether or not the forklift needs replacing or just the fork attachments. We offer a transparent, specialist service that you’ll always be able to rely on.

Put plans in place for an eventual forklift replacement

One of the best things you can do when acquiring a forklift is to estimate how long you’ve got before the forklift breaks down. You’ll be able to find some information about this in the manufacturer’s handbook. Although most forklifts last for around 10,000 to 12,000 hours on average, it does vary based on how well you look after the machine in question.

If you know that your machine is getting slower, older and is generally becoming unreliable, then it’s worth taking out some insurance if you don’t have any cover already. You should also look at starting to put some money away to cover the cost of a replacement forklift.

If you would like more information about the new and used forklifts we have available, or if you’d like to acquire other pieces of warehouse equipment, such as pallet trucks, scissor lifts or stackers, get in touch with our friendly, knowledgeable team today – we’re always happy to help and guide our customers whenever you need us most.
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