Forklifts are widely used in the transport, freight and logistics industries. Too often the safe operating of forklifts is a neglected area in safety training and not enough focus is placed on the effective maintenance and repair of these vehicles. We decided to approach Sean Gray from Nosa Training to gain some insights on the effective maintenance and safe operating requirements for these vehicles:

1. What are the different types of forklifts?

• Fuel type- Battery, LP Gas and Diesel
• Wheel base- 3 wheel or 4 wheel
• Capacity- from 150kg to stipulated max lifting capacity e.g. 25000kg or more
• Makes- TMC, Mitsubishi, Clark, Toyota, Crown, Hyster, Doosan and many more
• Types- Counterbalance forklifts, Reach Trucks, Order Pickers, Side Loaders, Stackers, Rough Terrain, Telescopic Boom Handler, Pedestrian Pallet Trucks, Walkie/ Power Pallet Jack, Cherry Picker/ Order picker, Narrow Aisle Trucks and Articulated Forklift

2. What are the major mechanical breakdowns with a forklift?

• This can differ from industry to industry
• From blocked radiator as a build up of debris
• Bent or broken forks as a result of an unbalanced load or overloading
• Engine failure due to lack of regular engine services
• Handbrake to foot brake failure due to lack of inspections and regular adjustments

3. Which components require regular attention?

• Regular attention would not be required on many components if the equipment is inspected comprehensively during pre-check, operational checks and shutdown checks as required from an operator and minor faults reported and dealt with immediately or on a regular basis.

4. Should there be a regular maintenance schedule held for all forklifts?

• There are regular, well designed maintenance schedules implemented that allow technicians to detect problems early, sadly they are ignored or not followed thoroughly, and reasons differ from production time loss to cost effectiveness or sadly, plain ignorance.

5. Can driver training reduce the operational costs of operating forklifts- which areas should be focused on?

• Yes, all the focus points a driver would put into practice on the road is implemented on all driven machinery training

6. What would the impact be on the wrong load for a specific forklift?

• The impact could vary between minor to major load damage to vehicle tipping over causing a major accident and possible fatality due to load and vehicle incompatibility

7. Is overloading having a significant impact on roadworthiness of forklifts?

• Yes, significant stress, wear and tear on individual parts as well on the whole machine
• Damage is also caused to the floor surfaces and racking systems due to reduced maneuverability

8. What would be your top maintenance tips/suggestions?

• Stay aligned to the recommended service intervals
• Don’t cut corners by ignoring service schedules to save on costs or production

9. How important is a forklift expert in reducing operational costs for a logistics business?

• Extremely vital- A competent forklift expert would have completed multiple comprehensive training programs where ongoing gaps would be identified and closed as required

Also view:

Safe Driving and Operating Forlifts