Monday, October 26, 2015

Be Warned - Service Your Forklifts Before Winter Sets In

Xmas is Coming, There's Snow Upon the Mat, The Hydraulics are Leaking and the Battery is Flat
Shipping News Feature
UK - Materials handling group Briggs Equipment points out that predictions on the severity of this year's winter conditions may be as diverse as the British weather itself, but what remains certain is that businesses need to plan ahead for every eventuality. Even worse is that associated problems are likely to arise just as many freight and logistics providers which operate warehouses with fork lift trucks and other equipment, are already gearing up for the busiest time of the year.

The performance and reliability of even the very best forklifts or other pieces of materials handling machinery can be compromised by extreme weather, particularly snow and ice. Although this is not a problem the UK faces every year, and rarely for more than a few days, failing to take any practical precautions can cost thousands, and not just in terms of lost productivity and penalties for failing to fulfil orders. Gavin Wickham Operations Director elaborates:

"Of course, most businesses will already have effective plans in place to meet the Christmas rush, however before these plans swing into action there are a few additional checks they need to make to ensure the risks posed by unforeseen events, including the weather, are kept to a minimum. As firms prepare for the seasonal rush it's easy for operators to overlook some simple maintenance checks, leaving them open to some potential problems when they may be at their busiest.

"There are some obvious checks, such as inspecting tyres, that many firms will have done already but there are other vital truck components they need to consider. Hoses that connect various hydraulic elements of the lifting system should also be checked at regular intervals as they naturally work loose over time. Tightening them up is a relatively simple process and is certainly a worthwhile thing to do now as they will be subject to intense pressure over the next few months. Failing to spot a loose connection could lead to a serious, but totally avoidable failure."

Briggs advise of several essential checks and steps to be taken to avoid many of the potential problems. These include ensuring the coolant system in diesel engine trucks has a suitable concentration of anti-freeze and that oil and other lubricants are kept topped up to keep the truck running smoothly in the cold. Making sure that the service schedule on all trucks is up to date and daily checks on significant components are carried out and that operators know how to use the equipment safely in adverse conditions and the ability to provide adequate training if necessary.

However it's not just the trucks themselves that need a health check, the operating environment should also be inspected before winter sets in. Gavin Wickham points out:

"Even a small dusting of snow can hide pot holes and other hazards which can cause significant damage to a truck so it's important to identify, and preferably repair, any flooring defects before winter sets in. Of course, it also pays to have a plan in place to remove snow and ice from operational areas and run through it with staff to make sure it can be implemented quickly and effectively should snow put in an appearance this year."