Tips to Lower Your Material Handling Costs

Reducing your costs means increasing your profits and increasing your profits has never been more challenging than in recent years.  Our experience with hundreds of various types of operations, utilizing hundreds of pieces of equipment in more than a thousand ways, has exposed us to thousands of variations in facilities, equipment, and applications. In working with these diverse clients, we have recognized commonalities that, when implemented, resulted in lower total operating costs for materials handling most of the time. Following are five that we highly recommend:

Choose Application-Specific Equipment – In other words, “buy the right equipment for the job at hand.” We often see equipment being used in applications for which they were not designed. That results in accelerated wear, increased damage and ultimately, increased costs. Working with professionals who can survey your applications and recommend the right equipment for each job is one of the most important things you can do to decrease overall costs.  Using the proper equipment with the right specifications means efficient, productive results.

Planned Maintenance – Your fleet equipment works hard. And hard-working equipment needs proper maintenance.  Working with a professional and reputable fleet service provider that serves you at appropriate intervals is the key to catching small maintenance issues, before they become larger and much more expensive. In addition, well-maintained equipment operates more efficiently, experiences more up-time and results in improved operator morale.

Invest in a Robust Training Program – Operator safety training is required by OSHA, and a daily inspection of equipment is one of OSHA’s requirements. Most companies train their operators regarding safe operation, but more often than not, the training stops there. Clients that invest in training employees to perform daily inspections, and to know what to look for, see results. If you install a process for equipment that will eventually need repair, you can ensure that unsafe equipment stays off the operating floor, and small repairs can be handled before they blossom into colossal nightmares.

Work With Single-Source Dealerships When Possible – The more work you can assign to a qualified and reliable supplier, the fewer calls you have to make. In turn, the supplier becomes more familiar with your equipment, facility and applications. This leads to greater efficiencies for you. It also allows your supplier to better understand your operation and thus make logical suggestions that can reduce your costs, increase your efficiency and productivity, and ultimately improve your bottom line.

Fleet Management – Whether you do it yourself or assign responsibility to your materials handling partner, fleet management is a key part of knowing the useful economic lifespan of your equipment. And economic lifespan may vary by application within your operation. If you keep a finger on the pulse of your maintenance expenses and know when it’s time to trade in or re-lease, that process will more than pay for itself in the long run.

There are hundreds of other things you can do to minimize the total operating costs of your facility. We have addressed some of them in previous feature articles. We hope that you have found these Top Five useful.  If we can assist you further, or provide you with more information, please contact us at 888-322-LIFT.

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Forklift Cooling System Tips

Getting hot under the collar is about as good for your forklifts as it is for you.  Heat results in increased engine wear, part failure and lift truck maintenance expenses. Like most other facets of your operation, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and keeping your engine operating at recommended manufacturer temperatures will improve your productivity and bottom line.

If your lift trucks are inspected as part of a regular planned maintenance program with inspections being performed by trained lift truck professionals, it is likely that these elements of your cooling system are being inspected and abnormal wear is being brought to your attention. However, one oversight and the end result could be a repair bill mounting into the thousands.

Keeping your cool includes:

Replacing engine coolant with coolant, not water – Water in your coolant system can be a very short-term patch, but can result in long-term damage to your engine and early failure. Water has a lower boiling temperature than coolant and will cause your engine to run at a higher temperature, resulting in oil viscosity breakdown and undue engine wear.

Replacing hoses before you see damage – Hoses wear over time, often from the inside out. Inspect for leaks on a regular basis and replace hoses at manufacturers recommended intervals. Leaks can result in loss of coolant over time, increase engine temperature and lower performance. Hose failure and the resulting spill can produce a hazardous situation for everyone in the vicinity.

Keeping the pressure on – The coolant system is pressurized to raise the boiling point of the coolant. Radiator caps maintain the pressure in the system. When the cap is not functioning properly, coolant can boil out onto the floor at near normal operating temperatures, causing operators or technicians to incorrectly believe that the engine is overheating.  Pressure testing the radiator cap is the only sure way to maintain proper coolant system pressure.

Keeping Your Engine Properly Belted – An engine’s fan belt creates air flow over the engine, removing external surface heat.  It also drives the circulation of the engine’s coolant through the engine, keeping the internal temperature at normal operating limits. Worn belts can reduce the flow of coolant, increasing the temperature and creating a long-term problem for your engine. Belt failure can result in immediate overheating, engine damage and an expensive repair. Have your belts inspected for wear and replace them at factory suggested intervals to ensure proper coolant flow inside and out.

Inspecting your engine’s greatest fan – Driven by the fan belt to perform, a properly operating engine fan allows for the normal conduction of heat from the inside of the engine to the surface where the fan whisks away the excess heat. A cracked or damaged fan can reduce the effectiveness of the fan and increase engine temperature. Be sure to inspect the fan for wear and damage and replace it with a manufacturer’s suggested replacement. Heavy steel fans can produce undue wear on the engine and reduce the fan’s capacity to remove heat, or even create its own heat by increased demand for energy by a heavier fan.

Regular Coolant Fluid Replacement – Like oil, cooling system fluid has a recommended maximum useful life, and that can vary widely depending upon how your system was serviced and the type of coolant used to replace your current fluid.  Every engine and application is different so don’t solely rely on factory recommended intervals for a flush and refill. Consult with us about an application survey and we can assist you in setting a schedule for regular coolant replacement that makes sense for YOUR operation.

Having your forklift’s cooling system regularly serviced ensures maximum engine performance and useful life. It reduces your maintenance expenses and improves your productivity. Forklifts on the floor, operating are far more essential to your bottom line than they are when they’re sitting in our shop.

If your lift trucks are not on a regularly scheduled Planned Maintenance program, they should be. Let us take the worry out of what and when to inspect, letting you tend to the business of what you do best.

Visit our forklift services page to learn more about how we can help you maximize productivity and minimize costs of your material handling operation.