Simple Tips for Maintaining a Warehouse Forklift
Daily inspections can help you avoid accidents and downtime
The last thing you want while driving a multi-ton forklift with a heavy load is to skid, bounce, lose your brakes or have the clutch malfunction. Regular maintenance helps prevent these problems.
Before beginning your daily inspection, read the operations manual. Park the forklift on level ground with the mast in an upright position and the forks on the ground. Block the wheels and apply the parking brake.
Give the machine and safety features the once-over
Check for any non-working gauges, frayed cables, cracked welds or loose bolts. Make sure the lights, horn, warning buzzers and backup alarms function correctly. Look to see that safety guards are in place.
Examine the safety cage for any cracks or broken welds. Safety restraints should work and should not have any signs of excessive wear. They should fit snugly.
Inspect the tires
Check the tire pressure. Forklift tires require relatively high inflation pressure to help stabilize heavy loads.
Look for any unusual tread wear and missing chunks of rubber. Tire damage can cause bouncing, which impacts load stability. Bald or underinflated tires can cause poor traction and skids.
Check fluids and brakes
Check all fluid levels, especially brake fluid and hydraulic fluid. Operate the brake, which should work smoothly without slowness or blocking. If you notice the brakes are soft, remove the forklift from service, place a service tag on the steering wheel and remove the key.
Inspect the mast
As part of your visual inspection, examine the lift mast and other moving parts for fluid leaks, cracks or unusual wear. Check the operation of the lifting, tilting and attachment levers and listen for any unusual sounds that may indicate wear on the mast and idler wheel.
Check the batteries
Electric forklifts that use large, lead-acid batteries require daily battery inspection. Look for any signs of battery acid leaks or discoloration that may indicate overheating. After reviewing safety procedures, clean the top of the forklift battery with battery cleaner or warm water at least once a month.
Check that the battery has the correct amount of water. The water used in the batteries should have a pH of between 5 and 7. Use a hydrometer once a month to make sure the battery has the ideal specific gravity listed in the operations manual.
John Ross has written about industrial, automotive and consumer technologies for 17 years.