Saying a good service and maintenance program is important to the health of your forklift fleet is like saying a good supply chain is vital to keep products moving. Every fleet manager knows this. The issue is not understanding the importance of service and maintenance, but rather having the focus, data and understanding that can help you determine and ensure that you have an effective service and maintenance program.
Don’t be fooled by a cheap and low-cost program. It is important to remember that just because you think you are cutting costs on your service maintenance program doesn’t mean you are actually saving your company money.
The cost to your business for an inferior service and maintenance program is not just the direct budget you are wasting on a program that is not meeting your needs. An inadequate program can have a financial impact that is much larger than the cost of actually putting in place a more comprehensive forklift maintenance plan. This can include expensive, avoidable repairs; disruptive downtime and capacity issues; unsafe working conditions; noncompliance and regulatory issues and fines; and ultimately, reduced lifespan of your forklifts.
Data analytics has introduced a powerful new tool to help fleet managers better understand how their fleet and service and maintenance programs are performing. As connectivity within the supply chain increases, there is a growing amount of forklift data that can be collected and analyzed to help you gain a better understanding of how your forklifts are being used and maintained. The big questions quickly become where do I start and how do I use this data for making informed decisions?
Here are three numbers that can help determine if your service and maintenance program is performing in the ways that you need.
Planned Maintenance to Breakdown Ratio
Establishing and closely monitoring your PM to breakdown ratio is a good indicator of how your program is performing. It’s as simple as tracking all invoices or work orders for your forklifts annually. Comparing year-to-year numbers will give you an average. Data show the average number of forklift service work orders is between five to nine work orders per year, depending on the type of equipment and application.
For instance, if you have seven invoices for the year, with four representing planned maintenance and three being breakdowns, then that is within an acceptable range. Now, if five of those are breakdowns and two are planned maintenance, then you have a problem.
Once you identify a ratio that best works for your operation, try to adhere to it. The key is to establish and follow a ratio. If your ratio rises above this number, it could mean you are performing PM too often. If your ratio goes lower, you may not be performing it often enough. Be sure to track if the work orders are operator error/abuse or normal planned maintenance or breakdown. This will help you identify additional areas where you can save your company money.
Average Cost Per Model
As your forklifts age, the value they provide to your operations depreciates. The average cost per model will help you determine the ideal age limit for your forklifts. The formula compares the annual cost of the maintenance and repairs needed to the number of hours the forklift is used within the year. This gives you the cost per hour to operate that truck.
Your forklift provider should be able to give you industry averages or specific numbers for their makes and models. This will allow you to regularly benchmark against your numbers as your fleet ages and changes.
It is important to note that a high cost per model doesn’t automatically mean that the forklift needs to be replaced. There might be other factors in play, such as how the forklifts are being used and the frequency of planned maintenance. Keep an eye out for trends. Numbers that are consistently higher than those your forklift manufacturer provided might point to needed adjustments with your service maintenance program.
Plan Replacement Formula
Life in the fast-paced world of supply chains can take a toll on your equipment. And as your forklifts age, performance levels inevitably drop. At some point, it no longer makes sense to perform maintenance on a piece of equipment, and it may be time to replace it. But when is the right time? That’s where having a good plan replacement formula can help.
A good formula should take into account factors such as the age of the forklift, how many operational hours you get from the truck annually and your maintenance threshold percentage. This maintenance threshold number is when you deem it is no longer viable to maintain the truck. For example, if life-to-date maintenance costs for the truck reach 75% of the cost of replacing it, it should probably be flagged for possible replacement.
It is important to identify a plan replacement formula that is right for your fleet and operations. Your forklift provider can be a great resource in helping you determine what that is. Once you have the formula, you can put in place a process whereby you are alerted when a certain truck has reached the point where it is time to replace.
The best service and maintenance program for your forklift fleet is not necessarily going to be the most expensive, but be leery of low-cost options using untrained technicians and cheap, ill-fitting parts. When making a decision, remember that the best choice is the program that is structured to keep your fleet operational while not burdening your organization with unnecessary costs. The three data points mentioned in this article are an ideal way to introduce data analytics to your maintenance decisions and help you recognize when your service and maintenance program is not on track.
Craig Bruns is vice president of customer support at Crown Equipment Corp.
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