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Make attachments a priority

12 December 2012

Working with specialist companies to service attachments can ensure efficiency is maximised while costs are minimised over the life of the attachment, says John Lamberth, operations director at B&B Attachments.

Working with specialist companies to service attachments can ensure efficiency is maximised while costs are minimised over the life of the attachment, says John Lamberth, operations director at B&B Attachments

If forklift truck service intervals were not being adhered to, breakdowns and downtime on the increase, repair costs dramatically escalating towards the end of contract periods and concerns over possible Health and Safety implications on the rise, how would our industry respond? These are the key questions being addressed by the FLT attachment industry today. Historically attachment servicing has been given a lower priority in terms of the truck/attachment combination. Resources are sometimes limited in meeting such requirements within the competitive servicing market.

The effects of this approach are now being seen.

Health and Safety is of course everyone's number one priority.

Attachment servicing is coming more and more under the microscope with regular service auditing sometimes showing up serious shortfalls. With attachment service intervals out of sync with the truck service interval, as they usually have a much shorter time period, attachment manufacturers recommended service intervals are not always being adhered to.

This of course can have major H&S implications. The UK boasts some of the most experienced service engineers in the FLT industry, but the array of specialist attachments and the fact that some are built to application requirements, with some variations not always evident to the under pressure service engineer, means that all FLT engineers cannot always claim to be suitably experienced in providing the required service activity on all types of attachments.

Side shifts, fork positioning and multi pallet handling, on initial review, may appear to require straightforward service requirements. However, if service intervals are stretched, programmes of work not adhered to, then even these simplistic attachments will eventually offer up costly consequences for both the end user and the service provider.

More complex attachments and those in heavy duty applications will require specialist programs of work carried out by experienced engineers. This type of attachment is usually more expensive, and so the consequences of poor maintenance regimes are usually more expensive.

Although training can help with the provision of the routine service, there is also the need to ensure that the engineer attending a callout also has the experience, and skills set, to deal with the attachment in front of him. Large service teams can provide a four hour response to callout, but will the engineer who attends have the specialist knowledge, experience, tooling and manufacturers parts available to him to ensure the correct repair. For example in the Brick, Block, Flag & Kerb industries specialist attachments are very commonly purpose designed and built to meet the requirements of individual applications. In the brewing and distribution industries specialist keg handling is common, but the service requirements of a keg clamp can be specialist and quite onerous and will very probably be out of sync to the service requirements of the truck.

The days of applying a bit of lubrication are moving into the past.

Ensuring complete maintenance provision will not only limit costly interventions in terms of callouts and repair costs, but will ensure maximum uptime for users and peace of mind in terms of Health & Safety issues.

B&B Attachments has spent the last eight years developing the systems, resources and specialist knowledge to deliver in all of these areas. Although a smaller service team in comparison to major truck providers, large players have turned to B&B to meet attachments servicing requirements in full. B&B is able to confirm attachment service pricing for the period of the contract at the start of the contract. Including all service costs, parts costs, callouts, the customer is given the comfort of fixing his attachment service costs at the start of the contract (excluding damage, forks/tines and pads).

It has been demonstrated that maintaining attachments to a higher standard leads drivers to take a pride in the equipment provided, helping to improve their use of the attachment and reduce damage costs.

Attachment companies providing this level of service provision can also help users drive down service parts costs within service contracts as we are able to gain commercial advantage due to economy of scale across attachment types.

The results are that callouts are reduced, up time maximised, manufacturers recommendations met in full and even fork costs driven down as heel wear strips are included within the service contract. Most importantly of all Health and Safety audits return the required answers in terms of attachment servicing.

By working with attachment companies to provide service requirements for some ranges of attachments, and advice and support in other areas, the industry can ensure efficiency is maximised while costs are minimised over the life of the attachment.

The result is that once again Health and Safety standards take a positive step forward.