Achieving Forklift Efficiencies

Wholesale distribution businesses require flawless execution of operations amongst a myriad of other requirements and pressures if they are to survive in today’s competitive industry. A breakdown in operations leads to shrinking margins. With profit margin being a critical level to determine a company’s revenue and overall profitability, the fact is that even the slightest decrease in margin requires wholesale distributors to increase their sales significantly, to be able to achieve the same profit outcomes.

Achieving optimal operational efficiency is, therefore, a top priority for distribution managers. The key lies in the optimising of warehouse floor layouts to the efficiency of your forklift fleet. Inefficient forklift trucks could be the source of low productivity levels and lower profit margins and in this article, we’ve explained why.

In this article we’re addressing what makes an efficient forklift; what factors should you be paying careful attention to as they can result in a variety of problems and what to do to keep your forklifts operating efficiently.

Being aware of these red flags can help you identify and resolve challenges before they become major challenges. Early detection and prevention will ensure less downtime as solutions are usually more straightforward when implemented in the early stages.

Common Forklift Problems & what to do about them

Forklift Mast or Lifting Problems

The mast is the lifting mechanism of the forklift responsible for the raising, lowering, tilting, and/or shifting of the product. When used incorrectly these can cause damage to goods during the lifting and lowering therefore best to resolve any issues with the forklift mast straight away. Mast malfunction is usually caused by low hydraulic fluid levels, a clogged hydraulic system, and/or clogged pump filters which reduces the manoeuvrability, responsiveness, and speed of the mast.

Overloads are an overlooked source of forklift mast failure; they can cause engine overheating and result in the mast malfunctioning. Some other common causes of mast malfunctions are broken wires, faulty switches, and battery issues that hinder power distribution.

The measures which can be taken to prevent mast malfunction include:

  1. Checking for any leaks and faulty parts prior to operation.
  2. Checking for debris clogging the hydraulic system and pump filter;
  3. Topping up hydraulic fluid levels as necessary;
  4. Replacing/fixing any faulty or exposed components
  5. Not overloading the forklift past its recommended maximum load guidelines.

These practices will help your forklift operator detect problems early and keep your fleet equipment working at optimal levels.

Worn-out forklift tires

Overloading not only affects the forklift mast but also has an impact on the forklift tires. This negligent practice can lead to unnecessary damage to goods, forklift, operator, and other personnel. Worn forklift tires can also cause all kinds of problems with the forklift operation and performance, especially impacting its stability and safety.

Prevention of tire-related problems is as simple as ensuring that the forklift load limit is adhered to; regularly checking the tires before operations as part of your pre-shift forklift inspection for any signs of wear and tear and replacing worn or damaged tires as quickly as possible.

Forklift Engine Overheating

Excessive heat can cause damage to multiple parts in the forklift’s drivetrain, including overheating the engine which will lead to the forklift shutting down. Broken water pumps, hoses, and loose hose clamps are common causes of failing cooling systems that result in overheating.

The best practice for preventing excessive heat, minimizing machine damage and downtime, includes:

  • Regularly checking the functionality of your coolant system
  • Cleaning any blockages in the radiator and cooling system components;
  • Ensuring to properly water your lead-acid forklift batteries
  • Installing a warning icon to alert you to any bad sensors, contacts, switches, wires and incorrect fuel/air mixture.
  • Ensuring that the forklift’s thermostat is working correctly.

Your thermostat and warning icon is the most reliable early warning system to avoid costly repairs on your forklift in the event of engine overheating.

The Forklift won’t start

A forklift that refuses to start can be a sign of a multitude of issues big and small. Most common of which are power-related issues such as a dead battery, empty fuel tank, faulty connections and overheating, etc.

Identifying the problem with a forklift that refuses to start involves checking for any of the following:

  • A flat forklift battery
  • A compromised connection to the battery;
  • An empty fuel tank;
  • Fuel system leaks and blockages
  • Overheating challenges, see above
  • A bad starter
  • Broken wires

Regular inspection and cleaning of the fuel system and battery terminals should prevent most forklift starting issues. Regularly watering your electric forklift batteries and following a charge schedule will keep your electric forklift younger for longer. Checking the fuel level and ensuring the forklift battery has adequate charge and is in proper working condition will ensure that forklifts are always ready for use.

Consider our lithium-ion forklift batteries as an alternative environmentally friendly and faster-charging battery, compared to lead-acid forklift batteries.

CT Power Forklift Fleet Care

600SA, a division of CFAO Equipment SA and a CT Power service provider, is committed to offering Trusted Quality Services. This includes forklift truck training to ensure that your operators are equipped to care for your forklifts in every way. We provide you with the tools and services to maintain optimal efficiency through our dedicated field service with national coverage. To get the best out of your forklifts, contact us to help you achieve and manage the most efficient fleet of forklifts for your operations.

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