Arrow Lift Trucks Ltd.

Fork Lift Truck Association member
Registered for Thorough Examinations

Winter forklift operation advice

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Winter is here in force now so prevent any unnecessary downtime or expense by taking a few basic steps to keep your forklifts running smoothly in low temperatures.

Ice is slippery, and forklifts are heavy. Basic stuff, but worth saying. 3 tonnes of sliding forklift can cause a lot of trouble if it hits something or someone. Keep outdoor areas where trucks operate ice-free if possible, and ensure drivers take appropiate care.

Batteries have less capacity when cold. Electric trucks will go flat quicker, and engine trucks may have trouble starting. Keep forklifts indoors overnight where possible, with background heating on.

For engine trucks, make sure the coolant system has a suitable concentration of anti-freeze. This should be checked using a hydrometer ('anti-freeze tester')- many anti-freeze formulations are not strongly dyed these days, so a proper concentration might still appear 'weak' or 'clear'. All hire forklifts will be filled with the correct concentration as standard to prevent any problems.

Diesel trucks may suffer from diesel waxing- basically the heavier components of the fuel begin to freeze at very low temperatures. To prevent this, where possible store both unused trucks and fuel supplies indoors in a heated environment. Use fresh red diesel which should be to the correct, thinner 'winter' formulation to stand much lower temperatures before waxing. Slightly thicker 'summer' diesel can wax at around -5 celsius, warmer than the minimum temperature in the midlands so far this winter.
Regular servicing and fuel filter replacement makes it less likely that mild waxing will cause a fuel blockage and breakdown.

Gas trucks must be allowed to idle and warm the engine for several minutes after starting. In cold weather, gas trucks should not be stopped and started for short periods.
Revving a cold gas/LPG truck (especially in cold foggy weather) can quickly cause the LPG vapouriser under the bonnet to block up with frost. This will cause a recently started truck to run normally for a short time, then stop running and not start again due to fuel starvation. At below freezing temperatures, this will NOT resolve itself without engineer attention.

For forklifts hired from us, call us straight away at the first sign of any trouble. Problems or breakdowns arising in normal operation are covered and will be fixed free-of-charge.
If minor problems (eg overheating or smoking) are ignored and further damage then occours, repairs are chargeable. The same applies if users cause damage by attempting to repair or adjust hire trucks.
Save yourself time and money by reporting any faults promptly.

Finally, keep drivers warm. Cold and unhappy drivers can't work effeciently and can cause damage due to fatigue. Ensure they are properly clothed, and consider fitting cabs to forklifts used extensively outdoors in all weathers.

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Obviously this isn't everything- if you have any questions then please call us on 01827 313335.
More will be added to this page in time.