With any equipment, machinery, or vehicles, there will always come a time when it needs to be replaced. For many motive operations, it’s tough to figure out when the right moment is. Of course, once you reach this point there’s obviously a reason why the question occurs; reasons can run the whole gamut, from downtime issues to excessive repair costs, from a decrease in productivity to being beyond the warranty period. Here are some thoughts to help you develop some “bright lines” for making decisions on when to swap out your forklifts.
Are You Having Downtime Issues?
When a forklift goes down repeatedly in a given month or two, it’s definitely time to consider an upgrade (unless the cost benefit on refurbishing the machine still makes sense). Repeatedly making maintenance calls or waiting on replacement parts means you have a truck out of rotation, and this negatively impacts most operations. In short, a dormant forklift is a useless forklift.
Is Overall Productivity Suffering?
If your operation is growing or the application has changed significantly, then your current trucks/fleet may not be able to keep up with the work, which obviously keeps you from hitting your productivity goals. This is an important time to consider new trucks.
Secondly, many operations buy trucks for different applications at the same time. Utilization or unique truck attributes may mean that some of the machines are struggling more than others. This is the type of scenario when we see many operations wait to replace a type of truck that is no longer meeting their uptime and productivity goals. In these situations, it is critical to assess the various trucks/applications and make cost/benefit decisions independent of each other. Having one truck type or area of your operation fall behind with downtime issues is very common. The key is to take action for specific areas rather than treating the whole operation in the same way.
Are You Experiencing Excessive Costs?
Once your warranty period is over, repairs and part replacements can start to add up. Just as downtime affects your bottom line, continually paying these costs out-of-pocket can often be more expensive than just leasing or buying new equipment. Your productivity reporting, along with an accurate cost analysis of your operation, should point you in the right direction.
If You Answered “Yes,” It Might Be Time to Pull the Trigger
So many factors go into making a new forklift purchase, and timing is certainly an important one. If you’ve taken the right precautions with care and maintenance, forklifts can last a long time, and you‘ll be able to maximize your investment. However, there’s a “sweet spot” between the time when your forklifts begin to fail and you start to suffer operational pain. The secret is to make that upgrade before it disrupts your business, and adversely affects your total cost of ownership.