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When do I Update My Forklift Fleet

Even a well-maintained forklift fleet needs to be replaced at some point in time. Knowing exactly when can be a difficult thing to ascertain. Industry averages reveal that somewhere between 8,000 hours and 10,000 hours of use is when you’re going to reach an optimal point to replace your forklifts. Some questions to ask to help determine if it is time include:

  • What type of operation does each forklift perform each day? Does your forklift face harsh conditions like heat, dust, rough terrain or any other condition that would put undue stress on the engine, transmission or hydraulics?
  • Is your forklift put to the test each and every lift, lower and transport? Does it handle its maximum capacity more than half the time, or less?
  • Does your forklift do a lot of starting, stopping and backing up? Does it frequently conduct long runs in large open areas?
  • Have you adequately maintained the equipment using a regularly scheduled Planned Maintenance Program?
  • How has the cost of repairs for each unit changed over the past two to three years? A dramatic increase in repairs (not normal planned maintenance or normal wear parts) can indicate that you’re spending more than you should on repairs. A cost-per-hour analysis may be in order.

The not-so-obvious costs associated with worn forklifts is downtime, lost productivity and the short-term cost of replacing them with rentals. These costs may not show up on a unit’s cost per hour, but they are costs nonetheless. Keeping count of rentals due to downtime and repairs is essential in determining replacement, as new forklifts will all but eliminate your rentals due to downtime.

There are other reasons that may eliminate the guesswork and actually require you to replace your aging fleet:

  • Safety features are outdated and cannot be updated properly. For example, safety requirements may change and a new safety harness system would replace traditional seatbelts. Also, if safety options have improved fleet safety and the cost to update them would be prohibitive, it would be a good time to consider replacement.
  • If your forklifts are exhibiting signs of unsafe operating conditions like hydraulic failure, equipment shaking or jerking or leaking components, it’s likely time to replace the units.

Another reason to consider updating your forklift fleet are improvements in technology, hardware or performance. For example, now that electric forklifts have become more powerful and reliable outdoors, it could be a great time to consider replacing your IC forklifts.

As you can see, looking at the hour meter is not the sole solution that it used to be to consider replacement. We would be glad to consult with you to assess your fleet condition and help you determine if now is a good time to consider your forklift fleet retirement or replacement. Just give us a call at 804-233-0051.