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Identifying Forklift Wear and Tear

Forklifts are designed to last, but wear and tear inevitably occurs with use of the machine. Similar to cars, forklifts require regular service and maintenance, so you want to avoid reckless driving and handle your machine with care. But no matter how careful you are, forklifts will wear down over time.

It’s crucial to know if your machine needs to be repaired or removed from service to get as much life as possible out of the lift. Here are five places to look out for signs of forklift wear and tear.

1. Tires

Forklift tires are built to withstand a lot of weight, but like your car’s tires, will need to be replaced at some point. There are a few ways to tell when it’s time to replace a tire or two on your lift:

  • Worn low: Most tires have a defined line to let you know when it’s time to switch them out, sometimes referred to as the 50% wear line. If this line has been breached, it’s time to change the tire.
  • Chunking: Chunking refers to losing pieces of the tire rubber peeling away from the tire. Not only is chunking unsafe, but also renders the wheel useless, and the tire should be replaced immediately.
  • Flattening: Flattening occurs as a result of misalignment the forklift coming to a sharp halt. Change the tire if you notice it has any bald spots.

2. Forks

To get the most out of a forklift, the forks must be in good condition. Forks that are bent or cracked from picking up, transporting or unloading pallets cannot successfully transfer a load. As soon as you notice any of these issues, stop using the lift and take it for servicing immediately.

3. Chain

When properly lubricated, forklift chains can perform up to 6,000 hours of work. However, if you notice protruding or turned pins, plate cracking, misalignment, broken links, rust, or erosion, the chain needs to be replaced. Prevent these issues by keeping the chain lubricated.

4. Mast

The mast is the vertical assembly on the front of the forklift that’s responsible for raising, lowering, and tilting a load. One sign of wear and tear on the mast is metal on metal contact. Grinding sounds during operation, or visible scrape marks, are the result of metal of metal contact and serve as a sign to replace the mast.

5. Oil

Keeping proper levels of oil and immediately repairing oil leaks will protect your machine, as well as your facility as a whole. Oil lubricates the forklift’s mast when it is extended, and too little oil can result in increased friction and temperature that will most likely destroy other parts of the machine. Not to mention, an oil leak is hazardous to operators and pedestrians.

If you notice any of these signs of wear and tear on your forklift, you need to call for service. It’s important to catch these signs early in order to get as much life as possible out of your machine. At KION North America, we ensure quick delivery of parts and a range of services designed to fit your needs. Contact your local authorized dealer if you have any further questions about forklift maintenance.

When to Retire Your Forklift

Forklifts are invaluable pieces of machinery necessary for the efficiency of any warehouse. A good forklift can last up up to around 10,000-20,000 hours without needing major repairs, but unfortunately these machines do not last forever. When a forklift has exceeded its economic life, meaning the cost of operation exceeds the value it provides, or the forklift has become unsafe to operate, the forklift is ready to be replaced. Waiting too long to retire a forklift can cost organizations considerable money. Here are a few signs that indicate it’s time for your forklift to retire.

Increased Maintenance Costs

As mentioned above, if the cost of maintaining a forklift has become higher than the value of its performance, it’s time to trade the lift in. Think about a forklift like you would a car- if making repairs or maintenance costs more than the value of the car, you know its time is over. Small repairs will be necessary after the first few thousand miles and several years, and major repairs are typical once the lift reaches about 10,000 hours.

Hours

Keep track of the number of hours your forklift is in operation. When the lift has exceeded 10,000 hours, you may want to pay attention to how it’s performing and keep an eye out for any issues. It would also be a good time to look into options for your next lift. Once a lift reaches 20,000 hours, retirement and replacement should be a priority. However, these numbers will vary based on the intensity of the lift’s usage.

Decreased Productivity

If a forklift is down for repairs more often than it is out on the floor lifting loads, it’s probably time to retire it. You can lose a considerable amount of money due to the lost hours of work as well as the costs for repairs.

High Number of Work Orders

A high number of work orders indicates that a forklift has been down more than its being used. If a lift has needed many repairs in recent months, even small repairs, it indicates there is a problem and the lift is nearing the end of its working days.

Out of Date Features

An out of date forklift is an unsafe forklift. A telling sign that your lift is too old is if its features are not up to date with the most recent changes and improvements. Especially when it comes to safety features, having an out of date machine can be very dangerous and leave warehouses liable for any issues that may result.