There is no doubt that companies engaged in robust and comprehensive equipment maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets. Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Follow these three tips to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.
We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.
- Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.
- Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.
Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that many companies do not perform pre-shift inspections. However, performing pre-shift inspections will result in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios. Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.
Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could actually result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:
- Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
- Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
- Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
- References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
- Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.
Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. Additionally, planned maintenance programs can create long-term benefits that are well worth the investment, to learn more on the benefits you could see read: 5 Planned Maintenance Benefits.