Keeping your forklift fleet running during extreme cold is a challenge for operators across the country. Record lows and temperatures similar to those from last winter are expected again this season. Taking a few basic precautions with your fleet of equipment this winter will prevent high repair costs, plus a loss of efficiency and workplace safety. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Storing equipment indoors might not be an option. Each type of machine requires different care when being kept outside in freezing temperatures. Electric trucks that are stored outside will need to warm up for a few minutes before full operation. Diesel trucks require the right amount of antifreeze to prevent diesel waxing, a common occurrence with below normal temperatures. Take inventory of which vehicles are in your fleet and schedule out maintenance for each before the winter elements take affect. Roads covered in ice and mud mean extra efforts to clean in order to prevent blocked or clogged parts. Advancements in the materials handling field are being made daily, however, most vehicles are still not made to handle extreme weather.
Freezing temperatures mean a new set of challenges for forklift operators. Equipment that is maneuvered inside and outside cause condensation, making for slick surfaces. To mitigate this safety concern, shovel snow and salt roads before operations begin. It may seem best for operators if the doors and windows are closed to keep heat inside. While it may be warm inside vehicles and warehouses, ventilation is still a concern, especially for older facilities. Check ventilation mechanisms before choosing what to close this season. Winter’s decrease in daylight is another safety concern for operators and pedestrians. Forklifts should be outfitted with beacon lighting, and warehouses should be checked for dimly lit areas that may be a hazard. Managers should also outfit their employees with waterproof attire that is warm and has reflective elements if possible.
Uncomfortable forklift operators are not only less efficient but are also unhappy. In the same way, equipment that has been neglected may wreak havoc on your fleet this time of year. Extra care for both the materials handling equipment as well as forklift operators is necessary when cold weather hits.