Posted by Thelma Marshall, VP of Solutions, September 8, 2020

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Your company’s profits can quickly be lost to a seemingly endless amount of time spent on problem solving. This is especially true for management of forklifts and operators. The solution is to create a proactive style of management. The goal is to proactively avoid common forklift problems before they occur— saving time and money.

For example, protecting equipment from preventable damage. As winter arrives, very low temperatures may affect mechanical health. Essentially, even forklifts built for cold storage will struggle with condensation that can accumulate as they move from cold areas to warmer areas in the facility.

Proactive management means planning ahead for these temperature changes that will impact forklift safety, cause mechanical issues or reduce battery lifespan. Preventative measures are crucial to avoiding equipment failure and breakdowns.

The best way to handle a costly problem is to prevent it.

There are measures to take that will help avoid costly problems from occurring. Here are key areas to proactively manage.

1. Forklift breakdowns and tag outs

Perhaps your company’s forklift maintenance schedule is spotty or always running behind. Downtime becomes a common challenge. 

Solution: Mandatory safety checklists help identify maintenance issues at the beginning of each shift or with each change of operator, locking vehicles until the checklists are successfully completed.  

Also, monitoring the frequency of repairs for older lift-trucks can identify replacement needs. The average useful lifespan is about 10,000 to 12,000 hours, or approximately 6 years. 

2. Numerous impacts

The most common cause is erratic driving, horseplay, or risk-taking by operators. Sometimes when time is tight, the pressure to produce more in a limited amount of time leads operators to exceeding speed limits and ignoring pedestrian warnings.  

Solution: Implement short rest periods for operators under high-production stress. Use telematic operator report cards to get a quick view of operator performance, speeding infractions, and correct use of safety checklists and protocol.

3. Unsafe loads

Some drivers fail to recognize an unsafe load or are more focused on getting the job done quickly than doing it safely. Improper loads include those that are too heavy, poorly stacked, block vision, or are unstable. 

Solution: Once an operator is trained, it should not end there. Refresher training should be conducted every three years — or more frequently, if operator behavior indicates poor judgement and risktaking.

4. Inconsistent lockout/tagout

Three out of 10 warehouse or distribution facilities lack a proper lockout/tagout program for lifttruck vehicles sidelined for repairs.  

Solution: Telematic lockout/tagout alerts employees that certain pieces of equipment have been temporarily taken out of service. It prevents the vehicle from being operated until it’s repaired.     

Use of telematic fleet monitoring facilitates proactive management of your fleet and operators by identifying common forklift problems, managing maintenance schedules and identifying safety risks. This level of insight at your fingertips is the best way to proactively get ahead of your toughest fleet challenges.

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