There are some inevitable reasons for forklift downtime, but that doesn’t mean you can’t decrease (or increase) how long it lasts or how often it occurs. As a business owner who works with forklifts, it’s crucial to understand that. These methods for minimizing forklift downtime will help you prioritize productivity and employee safety in the workplace.
The number one way to minimize forklift downtime is staying on top of routine maintenance. Daily pre-shift forklift inspections are a necessity for a reason—forklifts have many moving parts and if one has an issue, it can become a major safety hazard for the operator and anyone else in close proximity.
Neglecting upkeep will hinder the performance and overall lifespan of forklifts (and other heavy machinery). It’s not just about ensuring your employees carry out regularly scheduled maintenance, it’s also about planning it many months in advance. Some upkeep will require outside help from an industry professional, so it’s crucial to smooth out the details far enough in advance to guarantee they’ll be there when you need them.
However, even upkeep your employees can complete—such as recharging forklift batteries— should still be regularly scheduled ahead of time. That way, all parties involved can be aware of when it’s time for maintenance and do their part to make the process as efficient and effective as possible.
Aside from simply prioritizing routine maintenance, be sure to stock up on the supplies necessary for completing that maintenance.
For instance, if your employees need to swap out an oil filter or wash contaminants (dust, dirt, etc.) off the forklift, they should have the necessary supplies for doing it nearby. If that equipment isn’t close by and ready to go, the forklift will have to sit by the wayside until maintenance is complete. From replacement parts to cleaning supplies, stocking up on essential upkeep materials is one of the top methods for minimizing forklift downtime.
Even if maintenance is properly scheduled and supplies are readily available, employees damaging their forklifts due to reckless actions (bumping into objects, driving too fast) can increase the frequency and duration of downtime. All forklift operators must receive certification before their first day on the job, which requires an OSHA-compliant training program.
First, you must send employees through a good certification course. Furthermore, monitor their performance in the field. They might have learned from a great teacher, but that doesn’t mean employees won’t use improper handling procedures on the job. Allowing forklift operators to use the wrong practices behind the wheel is bad for the vehicle and creates a dangerous work environment.
Aside from proper handling techniques, train employees to spot the signs a forklift needs repairs. If forklift operators don’t know how to determine whether tires are too worn or forks are too bent, it makes the pre-shift inspection less beneficial, ultimately creating a hazardous work environment. If operators use their forklift with care and precision while staying on top of repairs or replacements, they can keep downtime at a minimum.