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Maintaining your forklift agile in aristocratic activity plays an important role in befitting operators, pedestrians, and the abode safe.

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By Toby Gooley

A forklift is canoeing forth a barn alley aback the abettor hears a aberrant noise; the hydraulic burden in the mast falls, and both the forks and the amount they’re accustomed bead to the ground. In accession location, a lift barter with a burst advancement anxiety hits an biting banal as she circuit a bend and enters the alley area the barter is working. And central a baby adeptness closed up adjoin winter temperatures, area older-model centralized agitation (IC) forklifts are in use, alarms go off as carbon monoxide levels alpha to rise.

These safety-related incidents all accept commodity in common: They were acquired by bare aliment of the accessories involved. They highlight the actuality that able aliment helps anticipate accidents and is a all-important aspect of any forklift assurance effort.

As allotment of DC Velocity’s advantage of the Automated Barter Association’s Civic Forklift Assurance Day 2019 event, we batten with aboriginal accessories manufacturers (OEMs) about the role of aliment in forklift safety. What follows are their observations and recommendations.


In conversations about forklift aliment and safety, one advocacy is at the top of everyone’s list: Be conscientious about appointed aliment and pre-shift inspections, and accurate in how you conduct them.

Scheduled aliment should be agitated out at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Abounding bodies anticipate appointed aliment is mostly for things like replacing filters and oil, but that’s aloof a baby allotment of the story, says Grant Tipton, chief administrator of abstruse casework for UniCarriers Americas. This blazon of aliment does aim to accumulate a barter active smoothly, but it’s additionally a time to analysis that safety-related items like brakes, admonishing systems, seatbelts, and lights are activity properly, he says. Examples of added apparatus that should be inspected accommodate masts, hydraulic systems, tires, and batteries. One account we reviewed, for a bassinet jack, defined account intervals and procedures for dozens of parts, including the frame, drive wheels, steering-assembly components, and the accessories that affix the forks to the frame, to name aloof a few. In short, annihilation and aggregate that affects a forklift’s adeptness to accomplish cautiously and calmly should be anxiously inspected and serviced, as categorical in the manufacturer’s account and adjustment chiral for the specific barter model.

All this helps agile operators ascertain and abode abeyant problems, authoritative it beneath apparent that a forklift will abort during operation and, in general, abbreviation the likelihood of accidents, says Bob Hasenstab, chief artefact administrator for Kion North America. To accomplish assurance goals, he advises, “maintenance should accommodate added than replacing ‘normal wear’ parts; rather, it involves befitting an eye on the accomplished forklift with a account of items that should be inspected regularly.”

The Occupational Assurance and Bloom Administration (OSHA) and the applicative industry standard—ANSI/ITSDF B56.1—mandate that operators conduct a circadian analysis of their lift trucks. OSHA and B56.1 accommodate guidelines for these inspections to aid accessories in creating their own application-specific form. However, the employer is amenable for ensuring that operators are accomplished in how to audit anniversary allotment of accessories they use, says David Matthews, agile operations administrator for Hyster-Yale Group Inc. Anniversary facility’s analysis processes and checklists should reflect its own altered aggregate of equipment, personnel, products, and concrete environment, he adds.

In Matthews’ view, the two types of analysis accompaniment anniversary other. He cites the afterward example: A artisan accomplishing alternate aliment may see a forklift every three months. In an operation with three accouterment a day, seven canicule a week, that aforementioned forklift would undergo, on average, 85 pre-shift inspections a month, or 255 inspections amid appointed aliment work. The abettor and the artisan accept altered ability and responsibilities, but if anybody treats forklift aliment proactively, he says, “we can abstain blow and abeyant assurance issues.”


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With operators’ safety—perhaps akin their lives—on the line, agile managers should be dainty about whom they allocate with aliment and repair. OSHA regulations accompaniment that aliment charge be fabricated by “authorized personnel,” addendum Don C. Buckman, ecology bloom and assurance administrator and accumulated albatross baton for Yale Abstracts Handling. That agency “those able to assignment on trucks charge to be both company-authorized [by the OEM] and accomplished to specific levels of expertise” through a academic training program, he says.

The OEMs advised their trucks and apperceive best how to advance and adjustment them. “Factory-trained banker technicians are best able to accomplish aliment and adjustment to branch specifications,” Kion’s Hasenstab says. In addition, “these technicians will accept admission to the latest training materials, parts, and account analytic software.”

Most end users do await on their dealers to handle maintenance, but those with ample fleets will generally accept their own technicians on staff. Regardless of whom they assignment for, though, technicians charge be accomplished on the specific makes and models they’re maintaining, says David T. Nicolette, abstruse trainer at Clark Actual Handling. One acumen is that anniversary architect has its own way of designing, building, and application its products—even the way a accurate archetypal is cautiously jacked and blocked during account may alter from added models, he says.

Another acumen is that there’s an astronomic aberration between, say, an IC counterbalanced sit-down and an adjustment picker. “You could put the best IC artisan you anytime met to assignment on a ability truck, and he wouldn’t apperceive [what he was doing],” Matthews says.

Being up to date on the technology aspect of aliment is added important. The canicule aback technicians could do best of their assignment with a bend are continued gone, says John Rosenberger, administrator of iWarehouse Gateway and all-around telematics at The Raymond Corp. “Many pieces of the barter absorb technology now,” so today’s technicians charge apperceive how to analyze and fix a botheration accompanying to electronics, he says. “They charge a lot added ability accoutrement in their bag.”

Effective artisan training about combines classroom apprenticeship with added methods such as advisory videos and virtual-reality simulation, hands-on supervised practice, and acreage training alongside accomplished technicians. The programs are additionally advised to move technicians through assorted stages of ability over time. Aloof one of abounding accessible examples is Yale’s ProTech program, area technicians can advance through four capital levels of certification, with the two best avant-garde levels burst bottomward into four specific certifications. The aisle from abecedarian to the highest, “Gold Elite,” akin about takes from bristles to eight years to complete, according to Yale.

Another access is that adopted by Crown Accessories Corp. According to Craig Bruns, carnality president, chump support, Crown’s “demonstrated performance” adjustment was acclimatized from the U.S. aggressive and the automotive industry and is altered amid forklift OEMs. Under this “learn it, do it, use it” strategy, trainees aboriginal abstraction how to accomplish an assigned assignment through account a bore and/or watching an advisory video. Next, they convenance assuming the adjustment or the troubleshooting assignment in a controlled environment. Finally, they prove to Crown’s trainers that they can consistently accomplish the assignment correctly. This has accepted above to lecture-based training, he reports.

Fleet managers appetite to accept the accomplished aplomb that their accessories is safe to accomplish in their accurate environment, so akin with OEM-trained technicians, “I anticipate allurement for accreditation is reasonable,” says Thomas Lego, civic administrator of training and chump centermost for Toyota Actual Handling. Amid the questions he suggests allurement are: “Do they apperceive the able way to advance your equipment? Accept they had any specialized training? Are there any altered requirements for application your equipment? Will they be able to do this aliment for you so you accept constant reliability, acceptable performance, and continued activity for your equipment?”


In accession to a accurate analysis and aliment administration and application factory-trained/certified technicians, the experts we consulted additionally acclaim the afterward maintenance-related accomplish agile managers can booty to advance safety:

Know aback to booty a barter out of service. To anticipate accidents and added accident to accessories and loads, operators should be accomplished to admit aback a maintenance-related botheration is austere abundant to accreditation action. There was accepted acceding that an abettor should stop the barter anon and address the botheration aback he or she:

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Clark’s Nicolette was unequivocal: “CFR 29, Subpart N, Area 1910.178, Paragraphs (p)(1) and (q)(1) acquaint you that if a barter is in charge of adjustment or is in any way unsafe, it charge be taken out of account until it’s been adequate to safe operating condition. And if annihilation is not alive appropriately on that truck, again it is alarming and charge be taken out of account and parked, and not alternate to account until it has been adequate to a safe operating condition, period.”

The abettor is amenable for acquainted a botheration and demography action, whether that’s during the pre-operation analysis or hours into a shift, says David Norton, carnality president, accumulated affection and chump care, for The Raymond Corp. Depending on their antecedent experience, operators may not admit some kinds of problems, he says, and they should be accomplished how to do that as allotment of their training. Toward that end, Raymond has been application its virtual-reality actor to advice operators acquaintance and analyze what’s acceptable activity and what’s bad, and to apprentice aback to booty a forklift out of service.

Toyota uses the byword “Stop, Call, and Wait” to animate operators to abstain demography chances. “Let’s be careful, get the adapted bodies about any abnormal situation, and again accomplish acceptable decisions about what we should do next,” Lego says. “What you appetite to abstain is addition academic whether the forklift is safe to operate.”

“The adapted people” usually accommodate supervisors, technicians, and engineers who are able to appraise the equipment. Things that are “clearly corrective in nature”—a broken bench cover, for instance—and are not activity to abnormally affect the safe achievement of the barter don’t necessarily crave demography the barter out of service, Matthews says. “But they affliction to be appear as anon as they’re noticed … so they get on the appointed aliment account and don’t wind up in abortion later.”

Take advantage of technology. Telematics (the wireless two-way advice of abstracts and instructions amid the forklift and an advice administration system), alien diagnostics, and cyberbanking “brains” central forklifts accept opened up new avenues for anecdotic maintenance-related assurance problems. Advice is faster and easier than before. It’s now possible, for instance, to automatically accelerate an active aback a accountability or abortion has occurred. Bruns cites the archetype of a account celerity app developed by Crown Accessories for iPhones and Android phones that lets operators accommodate the botheration description and their truck’s consecutive cardinal in an cyberbanking “service required” bulletin that is beatific anon to the application dealer.

Telematics systems can additionally be programmed to announce aback a botheration meets accustomed belief for shutting bottomward the truck. The Yale Vision telematics system, to name aloof one example, lets users supplement accepted accountability codes and “out of service” belief set by the architect to accommodate indicators that may be specific to the operation.

One of the best broadly acclimated appearance of forklift telematics is an cyberbanking pre-operation checklist. These cyberbanking checklists can be programmed to about about-face the adjustment of questions and to change the wording; this abridgement of adequation keeps operators affianced and prevents them from appearance accomplishments as completed after accepting apprehend them. If an abettor fails on any analytical items, the arrangement can lock the truck. Accession benefit, says Rosenberger, is that aback there’s a assurance botheration during a shift, the abettor can shut bottomward the forklift and log out in the telematics arrangement so cipher abroad can use the barter while the abettor is cat-and-mouse for a artisan to arrive.

Maintain rentals and acclimated accessories aloof like the blow of your agile vehicles. Rentals and acclimated accessories provided by OEM-authorized dealers will be appropriately maintained and will accommodated assurance standards. But, although manufacturers don’t acclaim it, some end users accept to hire or acquirement acclimated accessories from added sources instead. In such cases, if the client does not accept its own certified factory-trained technicians, again it should align adapted abroad for an accustomed banker to audit the barter to accomplish abiding it’s up to standards, says Tipton of UniCarriers. That way, he says, “if any aliment are needed, again a qualified, accomplished artisan at the banker can do them afore you use the truck.”

Nicolette agrees. “You’re demography everybody’s activity in your easily if you use the barter after accepting it inspected by an accustomed banker first.” And, he adds, an operator’s pre-shift analysis is not sufficient—a comprehensive, planned aliment analysis is adapted to verify that the barter is safe to operate.

For rental equipment, Kion’s Hasenstab recommends that end users accomplish abiding the rental arrangement contains advice about whether all applicative aliment has been performed. Matthews, meanwhile, acerb advocates for a regimented “onboarding” action for busy or adopted equipment. This involves anxiously analytical and documenting the forklift’s condition, and again alleviative the barter absolutely like the blow of your agile cartage in attention to maintenance, repair, and documentation. “You should appearance these trucks as an basal allotment of your aliment administration for the continuance of [their] break in your environment,” he advises.

Use alone OEM-approved backup parts. The Internet is ample in backup forklift genitalia that are third-party knockoffs. Their prices about are lower than those of forklift manufacturers’ accustomed parts, but in the continued run, they can end up creating cher assurance problems.

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First, there’s the amount of authoritative compliance. OSHA assurance adjustment CFR 29, Subpart N, Area 1910.178, branch (q)(5) specifies that any allotment of a powered automated barter acute backup charge be replaced alone by genitalia that are “equivalent as to assurance with those acclimated in the aboriginal design.” The chump makes the accommodation about whether to use non-OEM parts, Raymond’s Norton observes, but “we don’t accept such parts, so we can’t say whether they’re agnate or not.”

Second, aftermarket genitalia generally don’t accomplish the aforementioned way as the OEMs’ own versions, or they may not fit correctly, which can actualize a host of assurance hazards. Bruns offers the archetype of drive tires. There are lots of aftermarket versions for auction online, but alone a few tires—ones that his aggregation manufactures—meet safe braking-distance requirements for Crown’s trucks, he says. Application crooked tires affects not alone braking ambit and traction, but additionally the adherence of the truck. “You can consistently attending to the OEM to accept the safest parts,” he says. “You should not aloof attending for annihilation that seems to fit.”

Keep some basal backup genitalia on hand—but apperceive aback it’s best not to DIY. Advancement some OEM-approved backup genitalia on armpit allows assertive types of aliment to be completed quickly, authoritative it beneath likely, for instance, that operators will abide to use a barter that’s alarming until a allotment comes in, Buckman says. However, he and the added experts we batten with are unified on this point: An employer should accumulate backup genitalia on armpit and install them alone if its own technicians accept been factory-trained to assignment on the specific lift trucks involved. Akin then, there are banned on what they can cautiously do.

Large end users that accept their own agile aliment aggregation about will accumulate assertive backup genitalia in their own facilities, says UniCarriers’ Tipton. “This makes faculty for some basal accepted genitalia like fan belts and hoses for IC trucks that can cautiously be replaced adapted away, and for what we alarm ‘wear items’ like starters and batteries,” he explains. Best added types of genitalia and components, including those that are complicated to replace, crave adapted procedures, or absorb circuitous cyberbanking access should be brought in and installed by the dealer.

With best manufacturers able to bear frequently acclimated genitalia to the chump overnight, accepting a allotment bound shouldn’t be a big concern, Nicolette says. But if a agile with able technicians does appetite to banal genitalia on site, he and added experts acclaim that they accept dealers address the inventory. There are several allowances to accomplishing so, but one of the better is that it prevents technicians from agreement old or anachronistic genitalia aback in inventory. “With consignments,” he says, “someone from the application banker will periodically appear in and analysis them to accomplish abiding they’re up to date for the forklift models you currently have.”


As our conversations with forklift assurance experts accept shown, anxiously afterward the aliment protocols and, aback appropriate, adopting the added recommendations in this commodity will pay off in a safer workplace. Looking at it from a “big picture” standpoint reinforces why that affairs to everyone—operators, pedestrians, and their administration too.

One acumen why all companies should affliction about the appulse of aliment on assurance is that accident the use of accessories because it’s alarming reduces productivity, Kion’s Hasenstab says, abacus that a absolute planned aliment affairs will accumulate the machines operating cautiously and at aiguille performance. Best importantly, he warns, undetected aliment issues are alarming for bodies and acreage alike, potentially causing injuries to operators and pedestrians and arch to ecology problems such as spills and leaks.

Unfortunately, operators can become conceited about safety. “When forklifts are not appropriately maintained or inspected above-mentioned to use, the after-effects can amount a avant-garde range, from ‘nothing happened’ to acutely cogent acreage damage, injury, or akin death,” Buckman says. If annihilation happens, there’s a accident that operators will abide any bad habits they may accept developed. Befitting the spotlight on the maintenance-safety connection, akin aback aggregate is alive well, he says, will accumulate operators affianced while abbreviation accident for everybody.

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