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Preventative vs. Routine Forklift Service

Caterpillar Dealers in Texas

Forklifts, like any heavy machinery you own in your fleet, will require regular servicing in order to keep them in top working condition, and in order to prevent major breakdowns that could lead to costly accidents or downtime. Ideally, your machine came with a recommended maintenance schedule from the manufacturer that detailed what types of forklift service were required and when they should be completed.

However, sometimes, companies become confused by the different kinds of forklift service that their machine should undergo. For example, when it comes to maintaining your machine, there are two types of service you need to implement: Routine and preventative. Both of these types of service are important in keeping your forklift working well, but they do vary slightly from each other. Here is a look at preventative vs. routine forklift service.

Routine vs. Preventative Forklift Service: Timing

Perhaps the biggest difference between routine forklift service and preventative forklift service is the timing of these tasks. While each type of service happens on a predictable schedule, routine servicing typically occurs daily or weekly, on an ongoing basis, thus the name "routine."

For example, your forklift requires daily inspections before every single shift. These inspections involve tasks such as checking the tires and the brakes, keeping the batteries charged or the fuel tank full, inspecting the machine for broken or bent forks, and cleaning out the forklift to prevent the buildup of lint and dirt that could contribute toward a fire.

Other tasks that your forklift may require on an ongoing basis are the greasing of chains, the topping off of fluids, or lubricating the mast. These simple forklift service tasks are performed frequently and regularly as part of the routine of using your machine.

Preventative forklift service, on the other hand, while occurring on a schedule, does not happen as part of the regular routine of using the forklift. For example, your forklift will require regular oil changes and filter changes. It will need to have certain hydraulic components or other forklift parts replaced, or at least checked. You may also need to replace tires, air filters, batteries, and other components on a regular schedule.

While both types of forklift service are necessary for keeping your machine running smoothly, routine servicing occurs as part of your regular use of the machine, while preventative servicing occurs less frequently. It is the timing of the tasks that influences whether they are routine or preventative.


Routine vs Preventative Forklift Service: Required Expertise

Another factor that contributes to whether certain tasks are routine or preventative is the expertise required to complete them. For example, routine forklift service is typically accomplished by you or your operators, right there on the work-site, because these tasks do not require extensive expertise to complete. The forklift operator can complete daily inspections, because they are more than qualified to look and listen for problems like cracks, bent forks, creaky brakes, low fluids, and so forth.

On the other hand, preventative forklift service tends to require the assistance of a trained technician. This is why you sign preventative maintenance contracts with reliable dealers (like Darr). Those contracts provide you access to trained mechanics whenever a preventative task (such as an oil change) comes up on your manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.

Examples of forklift service that require the help of a technician include oil changes, filter changes, tire changes, battery changes, and any inspection or repair that occurs as the forklift begins to wear out, but before any major problems or breakdowns occur.


Routine vs. Preventative Forklift Service: Removal from Service

When it comes to routine forklift service, you typically do not need to interrupt your regular use of the machine in order to complete the required tasks. For example, daily inspections occur before the shift, but then your operator (as long as the inspection was clean), can go ahead and use the forklift for their daily tasks.

Preventative forklift service, on the other hand, even though it does not typically involve repairing broken parts, may require brief downtime for your machine. For example, you may need to remove the forklift from use in order to complete an oil change or filter change as part of your regular preventative forklift service. This removal from service, while maybe not convenient, will prevent longer downtimes later by ensuring that your machine runs properly for longer.


Routine vs. Preventative Forklift Service: Purpose

Finally, routine and preventative forklift service differ from each other in their purpose. For example, routine forklift service is completed in order to identify any potential problems that may be just beginning to show themselves in your machine. It also involves tasks, like greasing chains and lubricating forklift parts, that are intended to keep these parts in top working order.

Preventative forklift service, on the other hand, typically involves, as its name implies, preventing larger issues by either addressing smaller ones or completing work on parts before they cause major issues. For example, you change the oil to prevent more extensive damage to your engine. You replace filters in order to prevent the buildup of crud in your engine. You address worn out tires or other parts in order to prevent total breakdowns that could lead to accidents and lengthy downtime.

Routine and preventative forklift service are both critical to the proper operation of your machine. As a result, you will need to arrange for both of these types of service to occur on the recommended schedule. Adhering to a preventative maintenance plan is important, as your warranty will not cover issues resulting from improper equipment maintenance. If you need assistance with preventative maintenance, do not hesitate to reach out to Darr. We offer trained technicians and comprehensive packages to help you achieve the best possible maintenance for your forklift and all the machines in your fleet.