Barloworld Handling, one of the UK’s leading materials handling specialists, estimates that up to 100,000 forklift trucks operate outdoors in the UK, (un)loading lorries and transporting goods. Affected by the snow, ice and wet weather, how can businesses prepare themselves to ensure that the forklifts, critical to their supply chain, run smoothly, reliably and safely?
Ian Roberts, National Service Manager at Barloworld Handling provides ten top tips.
Correct specification of trucks
Ensure that all forklifts are specified correctly, for example with the right tyres, and are properly serviced to operate in cold, wet weather. Getting this wrong could lead to downtime which can adversely affect a company’s output.
Driver checks and regular servicing
Health and safety is a high priority for materials handling operations and fork trucks require special attention in extreme weather conditions to ensure they perform correctly and safely. The condition of forklift tyres is of particular importance in wet or icy conditions, as they affect traction and stability of the truck and load. Barloworld can arrange for regular tyre inspections to check on the condition of tyres. Additionally, daily checks and regular servicing of vital components such as batteries, hydraulics and electrical systems become ever more important.
Training and house keeping
Ice or rain may create slippery surfaces, either outdoors or on loading bays for example, so training drivers to be more cautious with their speed and supervising them where necessary helps to reduce a number of safety risks. Good housekeeping also plays an essential role in helping to prevent slips and trips, as well as preventing vehicle downtime. For example, if a vehicle is required to operate in a muddy environment around debris such as leaves or oil, it is important to regularly clean the equipment to prevent parts becoming blocked or clogged, which can lead to malfunction. Gritting yard areas in the snow and freezing conditions will also help to maintain traction.
Visibility in dark conditions
In the winter months, daylight and visibility are also reduced for both drivers and pedestrians, so, in conditions of poor visibility forklifts must be fitted with suitable lighting to enable them to work safely outdoors.
Such miserable conditions can also have an effect on morale and productivity, so it is vital to provide comfortable working conditions for the entire shift. Forklifts can be modified to incorporate cabs or covers, windscreen wipers and heaters. Barloworld also suggests companies provide staff with winter clothing such as waterproof jackets, body warmers and gloves. These extra precautions can raise staff spirits helping to reduce absenteeism and ensure operational demands are met efficiently.
Engines need protection from cold weather and Barloworld provides oils and lubricants to ensure they run smoothly and efficiently. The company is the UK distribution partner for Hyster, with machines equipped to function in extreme weather conditions of temperatures as low as -18ºC if required or, thanks to their advanced engine management systems, in tropical heat.
Fast and reliable Intelligent Service support
Always ensure that there is a reliable, experienced service provider looking after the fleet, who can respond effectively in case of breakdown. Barloworld uses state-of-the-art technology to provide customers with an efficient support service 24 hours a day and in any weather conditions. It uses a web based vehicle tracking system on its vans, which allows a more efficient and speedy service response, allowing dispatchers to assign the nearest engineer according to skills and parts required.
Check the security and stock level of the fuel supply in case supply is restricted due to snow.
Short Term Rental
Check that the supplier has access to short term hire equipment for use in the event that a breakdown cannot be resolved within an acceptable timescale.
Snow ploughs, scoops, salt spreaders and a wide range of other useful attachments can be fitted to forklift trucks to help companies through the winter months, and are available to buy at Barloworld Handling