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When to replace, retain, relocate, or retire a forklift

Sep 01 2021 4 Min. Read


Do you have good visibility into your forklift fleet's status? Have you asked yourself whether a forklift is worth the money you're spending to run it? Have you evaluated your forklifts productivity and decided you might have too many or not exactly the right machine for the job or space they are operating in? Read this article for clarification and call us for some free tools to help in your data analyzing and decision-making process.

A well-functioning operation requires well-functioning equipment. It can be difficult to decide whether to keep a particular piece of equipment or let it go because they are complex machines and essential to your operation. This is certainly true of forklifts. Decisions about retention versus retirement get even more complicated and expensive when you are managing a fleet of forklifts.

This post will give you a simple system for evaluating forklifts and making key decisions about them. We will introduce you to our free fleet management software, Maintenance Logistics:MX.  MX is an invaluable online tool for tracking fleet metrics.

How to decide

There are two key forklift variables that are essential for decision-making.  The first is Utilization.  How much and how often does this forklift get used. The second is Operating Costs. This includes preventive maintenance, unscheduled repair costs, and lost productivity due to repair-related downtime.

Think of these variables as two axis points on a grid.  Here’s how they impact decisions:

  1. RETAIN if utilization is high and operating costs are low

This is the position you want to be in! A forklift with this profile is doing its job in your facility in a cost-effective way. Looks like a keeper.

  1. REPLACE if both utilization and operating costs are high

Here’s the interaction you should look out for if you’re wondering about replacing a forklift. A forklift with this profile may have reached the end of its service life.  It is time to consider retiring this one.

Remember though, a forklift with high utilization has shown that it’s needed in the facility. Replacing it probably is the best option. That’s especially true if the cost of the replacement is less than the cost of maintenance for the older equipment. Plus, newer forklifts offer improved ergonomics, safety features and efficiency that can save you money.

  1. RETIRE if utilization is low and operating costs are high

When a forklift isn’t used much and is costing a lot in repairs, it may be time to retire it. Analyze your operation. You may be able to move tasks around to cover the workload. Maybe a different piece of equipment like a walk behind stacker would be a better solution. Either way, you will certainly find better ways to invest the money spent on repairs.

  1. RELOCATE if both utilization and operating costs are low

There’s no major reason to retire a forklift with this profile since it is not costing you much money. However, it may be that this forklift could be better used in a less busy area of your facility.  In this situation, you’ll need to consider material handling needs throughout the facility.

For instance, moving a forklift like this from a factory’s distribution area to the production floor, where it won’t be in constant use, may extend its service life. Keep this option in mind for older trucks that are being replaced by newer equipment. Perhaps they can provide service in another part of your facility.

Track your fleet metrics

We recommend gathering and reviewing information on a forklift’s utilization and operating costs over time. This helps you make informed decisions about getting new machines and retiring old ones. You need to know the forklift’s profile in order to know what to do with it.

If you have a fleet of multiple forklifts, information-gathering can be a challenge. Tracking your operating costs, preventive maintenance, and repairs can provide the information you need to analyze trends across machines and get a feel for patterns.

Do you have a system for collecting data on your fleet? We recommend you do. You can set up your own, or you can save time by using our Maintenance Logistics:MX online fleet metrics program. Easy-to-use and free to our customers, Maintenance Logistics:MX, provides detailed fleet reports and recommendations for equipment replacement, retirement and relocation.

A partner you can trust

When you are considering a forklift purchase, lease or rental, reach out to us for help in choosing the best forklift options for your application and the best investment option for your business. We partner with you to ensure that you not only get the best forklift for your specific needs but in a price range you can afford. We also provide the best service to make sure your equipment performs as expected over the life of that forklift. Our trained representatives will partner with you to ensure you get the best for your specific needs.

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