3 Tips to Forklift Fleet Maintenance Optimization

In recent forklift fleet maintenance and management articles, we have discussed the benefits of properly maintaining your equipment. There is no doubt that companies that engage in robust and comprehensive equipment maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets.

Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Following are three tips we suggest in order to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.

Fleet Analysis

We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.

Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.

Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.

Daily Inspections

Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that most companies do not perform pre-shift inspections.  And we can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a call from a customer who has had to lock out a unit as a result of a pre-shift inspection because the unit is not fit for operation.

Pre-shift inspections will results in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios.  Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.

You can find pre-shift inspection forms on our website HERE.

Partner Selection

Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:

  • Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
  • Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
  • Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
  • References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
  • Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.

Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. To discuss your service program with our trained staff of service professionals, please contact us, or call us at 866-393-9833.


The Costs of Not Protecting the Workforce: A New Report from OSHA

Cost of Workplace InjuriesA new report generated by OSHA highlights the real costs associated with on the job injuries, who pays them and how this impacts the employee and taxpayers.

Whether an employee is working on a high-rise building or driving a forklift, employers have the responsibility, and what we feel is an obligation to protect their employees from injury. By investing in training and safety, employers get fewer injuries, lower costs, more productivity and an improved satisfaction which often leads to less turn over. But all companies do not feel that way. Many are finding ways to avoid responsibility for providing safe working conditions for their most dangerous jobs.

The report highlights what some companies do to avoid responsibility and what this does to not only the employee, but his/her family and taxpayers when an accident with injury occurs. Shifting the financial burden however does not make it go away. It shifts it to over-burdened worker’s compensation and government systems. In addition, a worker who is injured can expect to make an average of 15% less income after the injury. And while the creating of OSHA in 1970 by President Nixon has greatly reduced on the job accidents, injuries and deaths dramatically, we still have approximately 4,500 deaths every year due to workplace accidents.

As a full-service forklift dealership, safety is one of our most important topics. Forklifts are dangerous pieces of equipment for the operator and anyone working around the forklift. Forklift Operator Training and Pedestrian Training is not only the law, it is our obligation to those that operate forklifts. While manufacturers work hard to innovate and make them safer, nothing can replace a well trained and cautious operator.

We have posted the Executive Summary of the report on our website and feel it is certainly worth a read. The full report can be found HERE.


Three Essentials of Effective Training

Training is one of the most important functions of any manager. From top to the bottom levels of an organization, employees that are well-trained to do their jobs perform them better, are more efficient and make greater contributions to the bottom line of the organization. When we discuss forklift operator training with our clients there are three essentials they must commit to in order to take full advantage of the training we provide. This of course transcends forklift operator training and could apply to training in about any other function within your organization.

Planning – Setting out on any quest, whether it’s comprehensive training or how your department will function, doing so without a plan, even a simple one will leave you wandering in the wilderness, drifting from one program to another, no sure if what you’re doing contributes or detracts from your quest.

Put together a plan, including what you want to accomplish, the steps it will take to get there and what you will do to maintain the levels of training you provide as well as what you will do to take it to each “next level” once you have attained your planned levels of training.

Time – Nothing happens overnight, there is no magic elixir for time and practice committed to your plan. You can expand or contract the time it takes based upon your level and amount of training provided to do the job. Time can be your commitment personally or the time commitment of external or outsourced training. Either way, it takes time with the trainer, then time practicing the skills by the employee to hone them to an efficient and effective state. We have addressed how people learn in our Feature Article “Training vs. Teaching; Knowing the Differences.”

Resources – Time is one of your most valuable resources in any organization and we have addressed the need for that above. But you must also provide the resources for effective training. This can include time with a skilled trainer, a location to provide and practice the skills, equipment needed to learn and practice on as well as materials needed to support the training efforts.

Providing comprehensive ongoing training is an investment in your employees, your organization, and your bottom line performance. The results are usually commensurate with the levels of each of the three essentials we’ve listed and it is rare that results oppose the efforts. Invest in your bottom line with complete and professional training and watch the results, over time, compound for your company.


Tri-Lift NC Inc. Awarded New Territory by Linde Material Handling

Greensboro, NC, January 9, 2015– Tri-Lift NC Inc. has been just been announced the authorized full line dealership for Linde Material Handling Products in all of North Carolina and 23 counties in South Carolina.

We are very pleased with the announcement and proud to represent such a quality, world-class brand of products in our entire market. We appreciate the confidence that Linde has placed in all of our associates to represent the Linde brand and look forward to a great deal of success for both of our companies. Bob Bond, President, Tri-Lift NC Inc.

Tri-Lift NC Inc. has been representing Linde Material Handling products as the authorized dealership in a portion of North Carolina for over two years. Due to the professional commitment and customer focus demonstrated by the dealership and all of its associates, Linde has expanded Tri-Lift NC’s territory as the authorized full line Linde Material Handling dealer. These additional responsibilities for Linde fit well with Tri-Lift NC’s plans for future growth.

Linde Material Handling, part of the Kion Group, U.S. Headquarters is located at their Summerville, South Carolina manufacturing facility. Linde produces a full line of quality forklifts and material handling equipment.

Tri-Lift NC Inc., based in Greensboro, North Carolina is a full service material handling company with branches in Greensboro, Raleigh, Charlotte, North Carolina and Roanoke, Virginia.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Robert Bond at 336-691-1511 or email at rbond@tri-liftnc.com.


5 Major Benefits of Planned Preventive Maintenance on Your Materials Handling Equipment

Like anything else in life, whether it’s your car, your home or even your body, planning and conducting preventive maintenance creates long-term benefits that are well worth the investment. Why would your forklift and other materials handling equipment be any different?

There are many benefits of properly maintaining your forklift fleet and other equipment. We however have seen five major benefits that our customers have enjoyed. Planned Maintenance will:

Lower Your Maintenance Costs
Proactive and preventive maintenance has proven to lower costs by catching small
service issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches.

Improve Useful Equipment Life
Equipment that serviced regularly doesn’t have to be “turned over” as frequently. This lowers your
equipment costs over time.

Increased Productivity
Equipment that is well maintained, doesn’t break down. This improves productivity as well as your
bottom line performance.

Increase Residual Values
When you trade-in your equipment, or sell it to purchase new equipment, well maintained equipment
has proven to have higher values than equipment serviced on an “as needed” basis.

Enhance Facility Safety
Equipment failures can have catastrophic consequences. Properly maintaining your
equipment will improve operator safety, as well as those that work around your equipment.

Having the right partner in maintaining your equipment is as important as selecting the right doctor for your physical. Our trained, experienced technicians perform thousands of Planned Maintenance service calls each year. Learn more about Planned Maintenance, then Contact Us or give us a call at 866-393-9833 for a tailored plan for your equipment and operation.


Long-Term Forklift Rentals Getting More Attention

Conventional wisdom dictated that when you needed a forklift, you look for the best model to fit your operational needs, then arranged financing or purchased the forklift outright. That paradigm seems to be shifting. The reasons aren’t clear to us completely. But it seems that more companies are looking for flexibility and ways to keep cash readily available for use in their growing businesses, instead of tying it up in depreciating equipment that could be obsolete tomorrow.

Long-term renting, unlike leasing puts the owness of maintenance of us, the company renting the forklift. The forklift remains in ownership by the dealer unless there are options otherwise. This flexibility by the equipment owner (us) allows you the renter to budget easily and free yourself of unexpected repairs and service calls. What you’re responsible for can be flexible as well, depending upon your situation and requirements. We can even tailor upgrades for your forklifts should you anticipate business changes that would require alternate equipment.

If you’re looking at forklift equipment acquisition, ask about a long-term rental program for your equipment, then discuss it with your financial adviser to ensure it’s best for your business. Then contact us or give us a call at 866-393-9833 to discuss a plan that fits your operation and budget.


3 Steps to Improved Productivity

Whether you’re trying to improve productivity on your assembly line, in your materials handling operation or in your accounting department, there are a few things that you can do that transcend functional lines and apply to almost all individuals. 

Empower – You hired people to do a job. Let them do it! Happy, productive employees have confidence and freedom backed up by employers that support that freedom, to find better ways to do things and yes, make mistakes. Empowering employees that are intelligent and hard working, while still maintaining operating parameters or “rules”, will result in employees that will make significant impacts on your operations.

Inclusiveness – You’ll be surprised with the input you’ll get if you ask. Much like a golf scramble works. In more foursomes none could shoot even par for the course, but combined, four 15 handicappers can shoot below par. Why is this and how is this possible? It’s simple, you’re taking the best of each person on each shot. Now imagine all that latent potential in your employees. Are you utilizing it?

Appreciate – The words “thanks” and “you’re doing a great job” go a long way, but how often are they heard? Like many relationships, time can do damage the gentlemen and ladies we once were. So make a point to appreciate your employee’s efforts and inputs. Mix it up, have pizza parties, send cards, make announcements, but be sure it’s sincere. Employees can smell smoke a mile away.

Each one of your employees has a lot of potential. It’s up to us to find it and put it to work for the productivity and profitability of our companies. And the best managers know how to do it and get the most out of each and every one of them. Good luck, and thanks for reading!


Why Daily Forklift Inspections Improve Your Bottom Line

We’ve addressed proper inspection techniques in this Feature Article some time ago. We even have Inspection Form free to download HERE, copy and use/distribute as needed, to help you perform complete inspections. We even have a VIDEO to help you train your drivers visual how to inspect a forklift before each shift. Beyond the obvious employee safety aspects of having operators thoroughly, what other benefits does your business gain?

Fewer accidents means less down time. Down time equals reduced productivity, which reduces your effectiveness, increases your costs and impacts your bottom line.

Less damage to product, equipment and facility. Forklifts and lift equipment are kept in better working order, less product has to be returned, repaired or tossed out, and your facility needs fewer repairs. All of this equals a healthier bottom line.

Lower worker’s comp and general insurance costs. A business with fewer accidents will generally pay less insurance costs, and certainly lower worker’s comp. insurance.

Improved productivity. Operators that understand how the equipment works, doesn’t work and knows your facilities strengths and weaknesses are more productive employees. Improved productivity equals an improved bottom line.

Increased useful life of your lift equipment. This is a great benefit often overlooked. Just like your car or anything else you own, if you take better care of it, it will last longer and have greater value when you trade it in. Daily inspections and catching small items before they blossom into giant repair headaches increases the useful life and value of your forklifts.

But this is all predicated on an effective and ongoing training program. Having a partner that’s dedicated to training and has experience training forklift operators is the key to an effective program. Visit our Forklift Safety Training Webpage. Contact Us for more information or to speak with someone, just give us a call at 888-393-9833.


Distributors Concerns for 2014

2013 showed economic progress and a glimmer of light for distributors going into the new year. Modern Distribution Management put together a survey showing the business-specific concerns and industry-wide concerns for 2014. Read what they are…


Top Cited OSHA Standards for 2012

The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards in fiscal year 2012:
  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  6. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  7. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)
  8. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  9. Machines, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212)
  10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)

As you can see, powered industrial trucks received frequent citations from OSHA. Be sure your fleet is safely maintained and your operators are trained. Learn more about our Service and Training Capabilities, then give us a call. We would appreciate the opportunity to work with you to make your operation safer, more productive and more profitable.