Lift truck maintenance goals

Maximum uptime, minimal costs

02/14/2014


Proper planning and implementation of a lift truck fleet service program is critical to optimizing the fleet’s uptime and productivity. To maximize the effectiveness of the program and efficiency of the equipment, it is essential to include a few maintenance components to ensure the long-term health of any lift truck fleet. 

The size of the fleet will dictate which program components are implemented, but most programs would include the basics, which are critical. Larger fleets would benefit from “beyond the basics” components that include more management PLE1402_MH Solutions_Lift Truck Repairresources.  

1. Technician training

Every lift truck manufacturer recommends that service be performed by a factory-trained technician, and for good reason: Only technicians who are well-trained on a piece of equipment will know how to repair it effectively and efficiently. 

Factory-trained technicians—both manufacturer representatives and internal resources to the customer—have access to software and technical resources such as technical bulletins that can identify a problem for quick diagnosis and repair. An untrained technician might use the wrong parts or unnecessary parts, adding downtime and cost. 

Trained technicians are more motivated and take pride in their work, resulting in equipment that runs and lasts longer.  

2. Scheduled maintenance and other preventive measures

A quality scheduled maintenance component is essential to the longevity of a lift truck and success of a maintenance program. This can include changing fluids and filters, and ensuring proper lubrication. It is important to schedule maintenance based on hours of usage and level of activity.

For example, a lift truck operating in light-duty applications may need maintenance every 500 hours of operation, while a lift truck in heavier-duty applications (such as a refrigerated environment) may require maintenance every 250 hours of operation. As part of regular maintenance practices, several other factors also should be considered:

Tires and floors. There are many different compounds for lift truck tires, and each is designed for a different application. Consider load weights, floor types, and travel distances when choosing a tire. A properly chosen tire may not be the least expensive one, but it will be the most cost-effective in the long term because it will last longer. 

A simple way to prevent damage to tires, wheels, and bearings is to keep floor conditions clean. Pallet pieces, debris, and shrink wrap can get caught in lift truck wheels, causing damage and downtime. Prevent damage to wheels, tires, and undercarriages by repairing broken and uneven flooring.

Batteries and chargers. An unmaintained or incorrectly sized battery can lead to additional maintenance. Ensure that each lift truck has the correct battery, and charge it only when necessary. Today’s technology will indicate when the battery needs to be charged. Batteries have a fixed number of cycles in their useful life, usually 1,500 to 2,000. Every battery recharge counts as one cycle, so lift trucks with better energy efficiency increase the expected life of their batteries. 

Opportunity charging can lower battery life, so it is best to follow a recommended charging schedule. To comply with battery warranty requirements, it may be necessary to keep detailed reports on the interval of charges, temperature, watering, and equalization to validate maintenance. 

Operating a truck with a damaged battery or a battery with damaged cells can result in erroneous truck fault codes or even affect the reliability of the truck’s electronics. For companies with sustainability goals, efficient lift trucks reduce carbon dioxide emissions by reducing the amount of electrical generation per unit of work.  

Also, be certain that the correct battery charger is being used. If a charger isn’t built for a larger battery, that battery will never fully charge, which ultimately will shorten its life and necessitate more frequent charges.

Energy efficiency. A lift truck that is not energy efficient can create unnecessary cost and reduce productivity. There are ways to ensure a lift truck is operating at peak energy efficiency. First, make sure the battery is operating at maximum capacity. When a battery is operating at low voltage, the lift truck makes up for the lost power by drawing more amps from the battery. The result is excessive heat, which can damage electronics. 

Second, make sure parts are properly fitted and lubricated to prevent unnecessary resistance, which can draw extra energy from the battery. A fleet management program can help evaluate energy efficiency by comparing battery draw and work performed. Holding everything else constant, a more efficient truck will run longer before needing its battery changed and/or recharged, resulting in lower electrical costs and less labor dedicated to changing. 

Recognizing that certain current model lift trucks average 20% better energy efficiency than their predecessors, this is a significant point of comparison.

3. Warranties

A lift truck dealer can help tailor a warranty package that is appropriate for a particular company’s application and level of service needed beyond the standard offering. A big consideration when choosing a warranty is whether a company will use an in-house technician or an external factory-trained technician. To make that decision, here are questions to consider:

Do in-house technicians have the time and knowledge to handle scheduled maintenance for all lift trucks in the fleet? Warranties require scheduled maintenance be performed according to manufacture guidelines.

Who can most quickly respond to a service call, obtain parts, and conduct unplanned maintenance to minimize the trucks’ downtime?

If lift trucks are inoperable and waiting for service, what is the value of that lost time?

Are extra lift trucks necessary as backup for those that are out for service? What is the related cost?

4. Fleet management

Work with a lift truck provider to design a tailored fleet management program. By collecting and analyzing real-time lift truck data, companies can see how their lift trucks are being used and how many hours each truck operates. This information can be used to maximize fleet productivity and reduce costs.

For example, this data can help determine if a lift truck is being used for the wrong job. Data may show that a reach truck is being used primarily for long horizontal transport, putting unnecessary wear on that truck. In that instance, a company can allocate a more appropriate lift truck in its place and use the reach truck for vertical applications, for which it was designed.

Fleet management also can help managers determine whether lift trucks are being used efficiently. If some trucks are in operation most of the day and others are sitting idle, it may be time to reduce the number of trucks or reallocate trucks for other applications.

Another way that fleet management can reduce long-term costs is by enabling the evaluation of ongoing maintenance expenses for each truck. Once an older lift truck has maintenance costs that exceed its usefulness, it becomes more cost-effective to invest in a new lift truck.

A well-maintained lift truck will provide reliable, long-lasting productivity at a low operating cost. Ongoing scheduled maintenance by trained technicians and real-time data analysis of the fleet will keep lift trucks working hard to contribute to the company’s bottom line.   

Tony Fedele is vice president of operations for Abel Womack, Inc., a Raymond sales and service center.

 



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me