Good brakes play a critical role in the safe operation of any vehicle. When that vehicle can lift and carry 50,000 lbs, the importance increases tenfold. Routine maintenance lengthens the lifespan of forklift brakes, but there comes a time when replacement is the only solution. Identifying failing brakes early can help keep your work site as productive and incident-free as possible.
OSHA requires companies to inspect forklift brakes every day. Daily checks make it possible to catch the early signs of brake problems and complete repairs before total replacement becomes necessary. Your operators are the most likely people to identify faulty brakes. Here are some critical signs that you and your operators should learn to recognize.
If you experience a grinding noise when applying the brakes, it indicates wear and tear. The noise is metal-on-metal contact. Usually, this means the brake pads need replacement, but if that doesn't help, the problem may be more serious. Debris can sometimes get into the system and damage the brake shoes.
When the brakes become worn, it can be challenging to stop your forklift. If the brakes don't seem as responsive as usual, you should inspect them for any issues and make sure they are functioning correctly. Failure to stop when carrying heavy weights can become a serious safety issue.
If the brakes feel soft or spongy when you apply them, it's a sure sign it's time for a replacement. You may also have to press down much harder than usual to get the forklift to stop. Get a technician to immediately inspect the brake lines and fluids, even if workers know how to test forklift brakes.
Brakes typically last for anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 hours, but heavy use and other factors could lead to faster replacements. Examples include improper use, heavy loads, and dusty environments.
The longer your forklift brakes last, the less money you spend on replacements. You also reduce the hours or days your forklifts might be out of commission while technicians complete repairs.
Operators have a big effect on how long forklifts last. Workers who brake hard and use two feet to operate the lift will cause premature brake wear. Some workers might also forget to release the parking brake while driving. Train your operators to use the forklift safely and in ways that reduce maintenance costs for the company.
Keep a close eye on all fluid levels. Ensure they are topped off with the correct brake fluid at all times. You should also inspect the seals regularly for leaks that might hurt your lift's performance. Check for the source if you notice liquids where you park your forklifts.
It's essential to check the brake pads for wear and tear regularly. A glance can tell you if any of them need replacement ahead of time. This helps reduce the risk of an unexpected breakdown when carrying heavy loads.
Excessive dust and debris can damage components in the braking system. Keep the area around the brakes clean to minimize wear and tear on them. This will help you keep your forklift in good working order for longer. Schedule a blowout for the debris every 250 hours or so.
Don't wait until something breaks or you have an incident to call the professionals. Hire technicians to perform a detailed inspection annually or every 2,000 hours. The sooner they catch a problem, the cheaper it usually is to fix it.
Operators should test the brakes before starting every shift and with every load change. Their methods for testing brakes may differ from the more in-depth ways professionals conduct their inspections. Consider the following steps for daily checks:
When testing your brakes, remember that you should not need to floor the brakes to stop the vehicle. Your parking brake should also easily hold the vehicle at a 15% incline. Ideally, you should perform the parking grade test with a load.
As your business grows, your needs change. Using old equipment to meet these needs could lead to increased wear and tear. For example, workers might overload forklifts to keep up with quotas. In time, the brakes and other parts might wear out early.
In this case, consider replacing the entire forklift instead of just its brakes. New models with updated designs could better meet your needs while maximizing efficiency and safety. Doing so also eliminates any repair costs associated with the old machines.
Keeping your forklifts up and running is important to the success of any business. Knowing when to replace your brakes or invest in a new machine can help you boost your productivity and reduce repair costs.
When your forklifts go in for repairs, it can sometimes take hours or days before you can resume work. Downtime is costly, but forklift rentals can help with that. Industrial Forklift Truck makes it easy to find suitable forklifts to meet your needs. We help you find electric, propane, diesel, and gas forklifts near you.
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