Forklifts are essential machines across a range of commercial and industrial workplaces, including warehouses, manufacturing plants and shipping docks. Without them, operations would grind to a halt with massive loads taking much longer to move around and place where needed.
However, as with any industrial machinery, breakdowns and faults can happen. In this guide, we’ll discuss why maintenance is so important and cover some of the main issues that tend to arise with forklifts.
Why is regular forklift servicing so important?
As with any heavy machinery, the sheer size and weight of forklift trucks mean they pose a real threat to work environments if they aren’t operated or maintained properly. Any malfunctions or misuse can have dire consequences.
Some of the most common causes of workplace fatalities include people being struck by moving vehicles and trapped by something overturning, both of which are possible in proximity to a forklift. Faults with this heavy machinery can cause accidents like this to happen, so a regular servicing schedule must be followed.
What are the most common forklift faults?
A few different culprits are often responsible for forklift breakdowns and faults, including:
- Not turning on: This can be caused by something as simple as a dead battery or lack of fuel to start up the motor. If this isn’t the case, it’s best to consult a professional to service the vehicle.
- Lifting issues: Any issues with the mast can be hazardous and cause damage to goods, so sorting the lifting mechanism is crucial for safe operations. These issues are often the result of low levels of hydraulic fluid which powers the lifting motion. Check for leaks, top up with hydraulic fluid and replace broken parts if necessary.
- Poor steering: Unreliable or non-responsive steering can pose a serious risk to people, goods and facilities. This could be caused by faulty mechanics or issues with misaligned tyres. Unless you’re a specialist forklift technician, it’s best to get an expert in.
- Worn tyres and suspension: These machines take a lot of load over their lifetime, so it’s natural for tyres and suspension systems to wear out. Regular inspections must be completed to keep an eye on these and parts should be replaced when necessary. Equipment such as bottle jacks can be useful to get a look under the truck frame for inspections and repairs.
- Overheating problems: An engine that’s overheating will shut down the rest of the forklift system, so it needs to be avoided at all costs. Inspect the coolant system and radiator for signs of any blockages, and check the thermostat is functioning as it should.
Only specialist technicians should be repairing these heavy machines and only trained professionals are allowed to operate them. By staying vigilant with servicing and protocols, you can protect staff, goods and facilities more effectively.