Although they’re tough and might seem indestructible, the forks on your forklift will not last forever. They wear out with normal use just like any other component. The key is to recognize when your forklift forks need to be replaced before an accident occurs. Waiting too long to replace worn out forks can lead to dangerous working conditions and dropped and damaged loads.
Inspecting your forks should be a regular part of forklift maintenance. To help you out, we’ve put together several signs that indicate it’s time to replace them.
Signs you need to replace forklift forks
There are certain indications that your forks are worn out. Here are the top things to watch out for when handling forklift maintenance:
- Fork thickness – If your forks are worn by more than 10%, then it’s time for a replacement. A 10% decrease in the thickness of your forks reduces their load capacity by 20%. We recommend using forklift calipers to measure the thickness of the fork blade. Find your base measurement by determining the thickness of the shank, then compare that to the section of the blade that receives the most wear, usually at its heel.
- Surface cracks – Pay close attention to the heel and weld areas of your forklift forks. There should not be any cracks or other types of visible damage.
- Fork tip height – Your forklift forks should both be roughly the same height. If there is a noticeable difference between the tips, then it’s a sign that they should be replaced.
- Bent shanks or blades – If the angle between the blade’s upper face and the shank’s front face is greater than 93%, then it is time for new forks.
- Positioning lock – Positioning locks prevent the forks from falling off. If the lock or other fork retention device isn’t working properly or malfunctions, it should be inspected carefully before continuing work.
How often to inspect forklift forks
Checking your forks should be a part of your daily forklift maintenance routine. OSHA requires all powered industrial trucks and forklifts to be examined daily, or after each shift if you are using them 24/7. For single shift operations, ANSI/ITSDF B-56.1 standards say forks be inspected at least once per year. Even with single shift use, we still recommend checking your forklift forks more often than that, at least weekly. Catching issues early can help you prevent snapped forks, dropped loads, and damaged products.
The bottom line is that forklift forks do not last forever, even under normal use and conditions. If you have any questions about how to inspect them, whether or not you should replace them, or about forklift maintenance in general, then contact our team today!
More on caring for your forks:
When to retire or trade in your old forklift
A typical forklift lasts about 10,000 hours, which works out to be six to seven years when operating it on a single shift during a 40 hour work week. Forklifts may last a longer or shorter period than that, depending on operating conditions and how well the machine was maintained. We recommend starting to think about retiring your forklift at that 10,000 hour mark or when the annual maintenance costs approach or exceed its resale value.
If you have questions about forklift fleet management strategies, then contact the JIT team today!