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.

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What’s Reducing the Safe Lifting Capacity of Your Forklifts?

You just purchased a new forklift. Along with your purchase you made sure your forklift operators were trained properly.  Operators’ knowledge of safe lifting capacity equals a lower risk of property damage, injury or death.

Your forklift was shipped from the manufacturer with a data plate indicating lift capacities at various heights based on its equipment options, for example, side shifters, carton clamps or other attachments. Once you put the forklift into service, there are several factors that can, over time, dramatically reduce the safe lifting capacity of that forklift. Below we have highlighted the major factors effecting lift capacity.

Forks – The continual use of forklifts results in normal fork wear. The amount and rate at which they wear depends upon the weight of the loads handled, how they are handled (what type of substrate is coming in contact with the fork) and how often loads are handled (duty cycles). A 10% reduction in fork surface (wear) results in a 20% reduction in the safe lifting capacity of your forklift. A forklift rated to lift 5,000lbs is reduced to 4,000lb once the forks are 10% worn. At this point the forks must be replaced.

Daily Inspections are required by OSHA – While a daily measurement of fork wear is not required, it is good practice to conduct a fork wear inspection on a regular basis, based on previous “FORK” criteria previously mentioned. During daily inspections, forks should be visually inspected for cracks or bends. Both reduce the safe lifting capacity of your forklift and create a dangerous operating condition.

If the load you are carrying changes requiring a need to use longer forks, the load center changes. This results in a reduction of safe lifting capacity. It will be important that you work with the manufacturer to determine the new safe lifting capacity of your forklift with the new fork configuration.

Chains – Chains should be inspected as part of any normal Planned Maintenance Program. Your service technicians should be properly trained to measure chains to determine when they need to be replaced. When a 3% elongation results in a 15% reduction in safe lifting capacity the chains should be replaced. Never attempt repairs on chains that are worn. Replacing them with the proper chains per manufacturer’s specifications is recommended to ensure a safe working environment for your employees.

Load Center – The data plate on your forklift indicates safe load capacities at given fork load centers. Not every pallet received by your facility is loaded according to the forklift manufactures specifications. It is important for safe operation to recognize and adjust your lifting practices to ensure safe handling of materials. As a rule, for every inch beyond the manufacturers recommended fork load center, one hundred pounds of lifting capacity is lost at a lowered height of six to eight inches.

Upon replacing the following, verify:

  • Tires – Verify they meet manufacturer’s specifications. Especially if changing the type (cushion or pneumatic) or the size.
  • Batteries – Verify they meet manufacturer’s specifications. If you have purchased a used forklift this can be an issue. Seek assistance from a professional that you are equipping it with the proper battery.
  • Attachments – Anytime you add an attachment of any kind, regardless of how benign it may seem, work with a professional or the manufacturer to determine if the attachment affects safe lifting capacity – if so, how much.
  • Engines – You might never replace an engine. But if you do, be certain the replacement engine meets or exceeds the weight of the current engine and that the configuration of the replacement engine does not affect the center of gravity of the forklift. This is particularly important if you purchase used forklifts. Ask the seller if the engine has been replaced or altered in any dramatic fashion. If it has, be sure the forklift has been re-rated for safe lifting capacity.

There are sites on the Internet like www.lifttruckcapacitycalculator.com that can assist you in re-rating your forklifts after minor changes such as attachments or other alterations that may affect their safe lifting capacity.

Working with a partner like Cal-Lift to institute and manage a Planned Maintenance Program is the best way to guarantee that your forklift fleet is always operating safely and your employees are not in danger. Planned Maintenance Programs have also been proven to be the best way to maximize the productivity of your forklift fleet by reducing down-time. These programs will pay for themselves over and over again throughout the life of your forklifts.

Daily Forklift Inspection Forms

Forklifts must be inspected daily, or prior to each shift if used in a multi-shift operation. This may seem like a burden and for some large companies, indeed it is. We believe though, that the inspections are a good routine to fall into. Forklifts can be very dangerous machines if something isn’t working right or is damaged. Cracked forks, chains, leaky hydraulics, damaged tires and many other items that are easy to miss, can present a very dangerous, even deadly situation.

We used OSHA guidelines to develop the following forms. One for electric forklifts, the other for internal combustion forklifts. Please feel free to copy and distribute as needed. Remember to keep copies of each inspection, either in a file, or scanned and store digitally.

If you find that your forklift needs to be repaired or service, be sure to use a lockout tag and contact our forklift service department as soon as possible to schedule repairs. Should you need a replacement, we have a large forklift rental fleet to fill your short-term forklift needs.

Any questions about forklift repairs or service, please contact us at 800-322-5438.

Forklift Safety Day 2017

The Industrial Truck Association has announced it’s second annual Forklift Safety Day, to be held Tuesday, June 13.

While most of you won’t be able to attend, there are things you can do to take advantage of this day to help create awareness about the dangers that forklifts present and how to minimize the potential for accidents that can result in injury or death, damage to your facility, equipment and financial losses.

We’ve compiled a short list of things you can do on June 13th to improve safety on and around your forklifts.

  1. Make sure all your forklift operators have been trained and that their refresher training is up to date, if applicable or necessary.
  2. Take time to teach your forklift operators the importance of daily inspections of their forklifts. Daily inspections reduce the risk of equipment failure and catch small problems before they blossom into giant ones.
  3. Take some time to gather any staff that operates around forklifts, but not on them, to refresh them about the dangers of this equipment and how to be sure to use safe procedures when they are in an area of your facility where forklifts are being operated.
  4. Make sure all your forklift’s maintenance is up to date. If you have a Planned Maintenance Agreement, this would be a good time to review it with your service provider to ensure all standard checkpoints as well as unique equipment attachments are being inspected and maintained properly.
  5. Review any unique “site specific” features your facility may have and be sure your operators are aware of proper handling of equipment while on or around these features (ramps, areas where floors can be slick, floor substrates that vary etc…)
  6. Make sure that training is part of your company’s orientation for anyone that will or MIGHT operate a forklift. Remember, employees that have not been properly trained aren’t even allowed to sit on and start a forklift, much less move it out of the way of anything.
  7. Make sure you forklifts have proper safety equipment and that it’s operating properly. Lights, horns, back-up alarms, seat belts, fire extinguishers etc…
  8. Make sure you have lock-out kits to ensure that forklifts that do not pass an inspection are locked out immediately until repairs are made.
  9. Review all your forklifts for possible replacement. Old forklifts, or those that are getting “up there” in hours, might be potential threats. Review safety records and maintenance logs for your equipment. You might find this could be a good time to replace some or even all of your forklifts.-

Our goal is to help you operate safe, efficient and productive forklift equipment. Any questions about operating a safe forklift fleet, or to get a quote on new equipment, please Contact Us or give us a call at 800-322-5438.

Factors Reducing Safe Lifting Capacity of Your New Forklift

You just purchased a new forklift. Along with your purchase you made sure your forklift operators were trained properly.  Operators’ knowledge of safe lifting capacity equals a lower risk of property damage, injury or death.

Your forklift was shipped from the manufacturer with a data plate indicating lift capacities at various heights based on its equipment options, for example, side shifters, carton clamps or other attachments. Once you put the forklift into service, there are several factors that can, over time, dramatically reduce the safe lifting capacity of that forklift. Below we have highlighted the major factors effecting lift capacity.

Forks – The continual use of forklifts results in normal fork wear. The amount and rate at which they wear depends upon the weight of the loads handled, how they are handled (what type of substrate is coming in contact with the fork) and how often loads are handled (duty cycles). A 10% reduction in fork surface (wear) results in a 20% reduction in the safe lifting capacity of your forklift. A forklift rated to lift 5,000 lbs is reduced to 4,000 lbs once the forks are 10% worn. At this point the forks must be replaced.

Daily Inspections are required by OSHA – While a daily measurement of fork wear is not required, it is good practice to conduct a fork wear inspection on a regular basis, based on previous “FORK” criteria previously mentioned. During daily inspections, forks should be visually inspected for cracks or bends. Both reduce the safe lifting capacity of your forklift and create a dangerous operating condition.

If the load you are carrying changes requiring a need to use longer forks, the load center changes. This results in a reduction of safe lifting capacity. It will be important that you work with the manufacturer to determine the new safe lifting capacity of your forklift with the new fork configuration.

Chains – Chains should be inspected as part of any normal Planned Maintenance Program. Your service technicians should be properly trained to measure chains to determine when they need to be replaced. When a 3% elongation results in a 15% reduction in safe lifting capacity the chains should be replaced. Never attempt repairs on chains that are worn. Replacing them with the proper chains per manufacturer’s specifications is recommended to ensure a safe working environment for your employees.

Load Center – The data plate on your forklift indicates safe load capacities at given fork load centers. Not every pallet received by your facility is loaded according to the forklift manufactures specifications. It is important for safe operation to recognize and adjust your lifting practices to ensure safe handling of materials. As a rule, for every inch beyond the manufacturers recommended fork load center, one hundred pounds of lifting capacity is lost at a lowered height of six to eight inches.

Upon replacing the following, verify:

  • Tires – Verify they meet manufacturer’s specifications. Especially if changing the type (cushion or pneumatic) or the size.
  • Batteries – Verify they meet manufacturer’s specifications. If you have purchased a used forklift this can be an issue. Seek assistance from a professional that you are equipping it with the proper battery.
  • Attachments – Anytime you add an attachment of any kind, regardless of how benign it may seem, work with a professional or the manufacturer to determine if the attachment affects safe lifting capacity – if so, how much.
  • Engines – You might never replace an engine. But if you do, be certain the replacement engine meets or exceeds the weight of the current engine and that the configuration of the replacement engine does not affect the center of gravity of the forklift. This is particularly important if you purchase used forklifts. Ask the seller if the engine has been replaced or altered in any dramatic fashion. If it has, be sure the forklift has been re-rated for safe lifting capacity.

There are sites on the Internet like www.lifttruckcapacitycalculator.com that can assist you in re-rating your forklifts after minor changes such as attachments or other alterations that may affect their safe lifting capacity.

Working with a partner like Matthai Material Handling to institute and manage a Planned Maintenance Program is the best way to guarantee that your forklift fleet is always operating safely and your employees are not in danger. Planned Maintenance Programs have also been proven to be the best way to maximize the productivity of your forklift fleet by reducing down-time. These programs will pay for themselves over and over again throughout the life of your forklifts.