Casebook 2011: Avoid downtime with planned lift truck maintenance

Despite variable temperatures and a 24-hour schedule, lift truck fleet lasts distributor 10 years.

By ·

The most powerful and versatile lift truck won’t get anyone very far without a battery. To prevent even worse equipment failures in its lift truck fleet, one distributor has adopted a proactive approach to fleet maintenance.

When the Cara Donna Provisions Company started operations in 1945, the company founder could often be seen riding the trolley into town to deliver product. Sixty-five years later, lift trucks (Crown Equipment Corporation, 419-629-2311, hum through two warehouses with pallet loads of Italian deli meats, cheeses and related provisions. Downtime for any lift truck is not an option, says Jim Wilcox, Cara Donna’s operations manager.

“We don’t have extra equipment,” says Wilcox. “We can’t afford to have a truck out of service during our 24-hour operations. We take planned maintenance for our forklifts seriously.”

After a trip through cold storage facilities, employees keep a close eye out for any condensation on the forklifts’ controllers as well as any ice that may build up along the pedals. In addition, custom oil mixes are required for the lift truck to support performance in the diverse environments.

Perhaps the most important part of the proactive strategy is a close, long-term relationship with the lift truck provider’s local service branch. Cara Donna counts on a dedicated service technician, ongoing service and maintenance counsel, as well as on-demand access to replacement parts.

“We’ve had the same certified technician coming to our warehouse since I started here seven years ago,” says Wilcox. “It’s this type of service that helps us meet our picking goals.”
Because of the company’s focus, more than half of the lift trucks currently in use have been with the company for more than 10 years, according to Wilcox. The company has also maximized its limited warehouse space by not using valuable real estate for storing forklift parts, which are delivered on demand.

About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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