The lift trucks that zip around your facilities each shift are truly the workhorses of your warehouse operations.  They are essential, everyday pieces of equipment used for picking, shipping and receiving, and as much as we’d like them to last forever, there comes a time when their retirement is inevitable.

iStock_000012806371LargeBut when and how you know when it’s time to say goodbye?  It’s always a tough call determining when equipment has reached its economic life span, or the point when operating the lift costs more than the value it provides to your operations.  There are a number of factors to look at when making that decision and some of those include:

  • Hours of operation
  • Operating conditions
  • Utilization rates
  • Maintenance costs
  • Productivity

Now we are going to discuss some of these in detail.

Hours of Operation.

Just like you measure your car’s expected life-cycle in miles, you can do the same thing with hours on a lift truck.  The number of operating hours a lift has logged is a reliable measure of its expected lifespan.  And while this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, the average lift truck is expected to long 10,000 to 20,000 hours in its life.

But just like cars have variables to mileage such as city miles vs highway miles, there are a number of variables that go into determining the large range of hours we see with lift trucks:

  1. Condition of operations. Indoor warehouse trucks used on clean, level floor in a temperature controlled facility will likely last much longer that an outdoor truck that is exposed to weather and rough elements and terrain.
  2. A vehicle with properly and consistently performed preventative-maintenance will typically last longer and run more efficiency than those who sporadically receive preventive maintenance.
  3. While this seems like a given, you use a lift with the capacity that you need, but some trucks will have lighter work days than others.  Lift trucks that are constantly lifting loads at capacity vs lighting loads here and there that are a ton under capacity will certainly lead to a disparity in hours you will get out of a truck.

Maintenance Costs.

While of course you want to get the most out of any piece of equipment, especially when it requires a capital expenditure, but at some point, hanging on can actually out-weight the benefits when using older trucks.

warehouse workers in front of forkliftMaintenance costs, parts and labor can be pretty predictable the first few years of ownership…an oil change here, some new spark plug there and you’re set.  But as you start getting more and more into the lifespan of the equipment, these costs will certainly rise.  Components like motors, drive units, transmissions and electronics can potentially require a rebuild and should be considered when determining if you need to repair or replace.

Regardless of your repair or replace criteria, you must have accurate and complete data with which to base those decisions on.  Fleet management systems and services such as those offered by BEB can be invaluable for aiding in collecting, tracking, reporting and analyzing lift truck data to make informed decisions regards your lift truck fleets.

Better Productivity.

If you have a lift truck coming up as a lame duck placing a drag on your productivity, then it’s probably time to start thinking about replacing it.  Whether the pack of productivity stems from downtime for repairs, lack of safety features or the model is just plain out of date for your current operations, you need to start taking a look at alternatives.

Downtime is one of the biggest (and most frustrating) on productivity, and the longer you own a lift truck, the more likely you are to experience that downtime.  Consider an order you guaranteed a customer could ship out a certain day.  Well imagine now you’re experiencing some downtime with your lifts.  The costs that you are now incurring expand well in excess of the price of the repair to the lift, but now goes into the cost of potentially lost business and the expense of your productivity.

So if you’re struggling with determining when to replace your lift trucks or you’re just seeking validation that your replacement is timely, visit: