When you buy a forklift, you make a significant financial investment. They are also the backbone of your company. Without them, you cannot keep your business running, complete your contracts, or move your inventory.
That is why you must keep your forklifts in excellent working condition, all year round. Winter in particular presents challenges for forklift maintenance. When you buy a forklift, you rarely think about your shiny new machine rusting because of snow or its fluids congealing because of the cold. However, those setbacks are a real possibility if you do not take proper care of your machine.
To help you weather winter more successfully with your forklifts, here are some tips for preparing them for the coldest, harshest months of the year.
Prepare shelter for your forklifts.
When you buy a forklift, you purchase an important piece of machinery. Keep it running for as long as possible by sheltering it during the winter. The best place to store it is indoors, where it will be away from the cold and snow. However, if indoor storage is not possible, you can always opt to use a forklift cover. Shielding your machinery from the harsh weather can prevent rusting, fluids congealing, and other problems that might shorten your forklift's life or saddle you with expensive repair bills.
Check your tires.
Winter is notorious for its icy, snowy, slippery driving conditions. In order to ensure safe driving during the winter months, you should check your forklifts' tires. Make sure that they have sufficient pressure and tread to navigate the chilly winter months. Soft, bare tires have a harder time gaining traction in slippery conditions. As a result, consider replacing any tires that are not in excellent condition.
Top off, and stay on top of, your fluids.
Fluids like oil and antifreeze help to lubricate your forklifts' engines. That lubrication keeps the engine running smoothly even during cold weather. In order to keep your forklifts in top working order during the winter, make sure you top off these fluids ahead of time.
After you top them off, check them before every single shift. In extremely cold weather, fluids can congeal, and you can damage your forklift running it with these congealed fluids. In addition, you want to make sure your fluids are topped off before every shift so you never have to worry about running out of these fluids while the forklift should be working. Preventing fluid issues now and throughout the winter can prevent bigger issues that would lead to downtime and expensive repairs later on.
Make sure your battery is fully charged.
Cold weather can quickly suck the life out of a battery. If your forklift battery is already weak, the cold weather can be enough to kill it. Then you suffer downtime and lost money replacing the battery. Instead, check your battery before winter sets in. Even if you buy a forklift shortly before winter sets in, double checking its battery now is a smart move.
Make sure that the battery can hold a full or almost full charge. If you find that your forklift's battery struggles to hold a full charge, you may want to replace it. With a strong battery, you face a greater chance of making it through the winter without unexpected breakdowns of your machine.
Keep your forklifts clean.
Winter can be a messy season. Mud, dirt, salt, sand, and slush can all take up residence on and inside your machinery. The problem with all this dirt isn't just cosmetic. The dirt can clog up the sensitive internal parts of your machine and make it harder to run efficiently. In order to keep your forklifts in good working order during the winter, take time to clean them frequently. Removing the winter build up will keep your machine running smoothly and reliably for longer.
Train your operators on safe winter driving.
Winter does not just threaten the quality of the forklifts. It can also make it more difficult for your operators to run the machines. Icy, slippery conditions can be dangerous if your operators do not know how to drive in those conditions.
To prevent potentially serious accidents, train your operators ahead of time on how to safely use the forklifts in the winter weather. Provide them with helpful safety tips to significantly improve their driving, and their safety, during the winter.
Give your forklifts a safe place to drive.
You can also prepare your forklifts for winter by preparing your work areas for winter. Creating safe areas where your operators can drive can reduce accidents and improve worksite safety. To that end, make sure to keep pathways clear of snow and ice. In addition, consider putting down a salt/sand mixture called grit on these pathways. The grit will help to melt the snow and ice and provide traction for your machines.
Give your forklifts a tune-up before winter sets in.
There are many parts of your forklifts that are susceptible to the winter weather. If you want to prevent breakdowns during the colder months, you should complete a tune-up of your forklifts. When you buy a forklift from a reliable dealer, you should get access to a comprehensive maintenance plan as well. This plan allows you to keep your forklifts in good working order all year long, including a tune-up before the colder weather sets in.
Here at Darr Equipment, we can help you to prepare your forklifts for the winter. With comprehensive maintenance plans, as well as expertise, guidance, technicians, and more, we can help you save money on buying a reliable machine, and help you to keep it in top working order all year round.