Forklifts used in warehouses have a safe storage place when they’re not in use. But what about construction forklifts that don’t have shelter during the off-season?
Although forklifts used outdoors are built to be more resilient than their indoor counterparts, you don’t want to leave them outside where they can get damaged. Besides the threat of vandalism to company property, there’s always a concern with rain, snow, humidity, and heat, all of which can cause corrosion that wears on a forklift’s exterior, as well as the interior components. And because forklifts are expensive machinery, repairing or replacing them can be a costly issue for your company. This is why it’s important to protect forklifts when they’re not in use.
With the right facility and amenities, self storage can provide a safe environment for company forklifts.
The Value of Indoor Storage for Forklifts
Indoor storage isn’t a requirement for storing forklifts. However, it does protect them better. As mentioned, weather conditions can take their toll on this machinery. Forklift chains in particular are susceptible to rusting, which means they’ll have to be replaced more often when left in conditions with frequent rainfall or snow.
Worse, oils in hydraulic systems can get contaminated in hot, humid conditions. When left outdoors in this type of environment, water from condensation gets into the oils, causing corrosion and oxidation. Also, oils that overheat lose their lubricity and strength when hydraulic systems sit idle for long periods of time.
So while forklifts are durable and can sit outdoors for long periods of time, too much time outdoors (like during the off-season months) can cause more problems than you think.
If, however, the forklifts your company has are electric, then indoor storage is absolutely necessary. “You wouldn’t want to store an electric forklift outside,” says Kyle Thill, Director of Services for Toyota-Lift of Minnesota in Brooklyn Park, Minn. “One run by battery would have all sorts of circuitry you wouldn’t want exposed to the elements.”
Before you move a forklift into indoor storage for a long period of time, though, Thill recommends that you “run them out of fuel, remove batteries, [and] place them on plastic as a barrier to moisture coming up through the floor.” This will prevent the fuel and/or batteries from spoiling in the long stretches of storage and protect the forklift against condensation damages. With propane forklifts, do the same, but be sure to shut off the fuel to avoid fire hazards. Also, masts for all types of forklifts should be lowered, as hydraulic systems shouldn’t be strained during long-term storage.
Finding the Right Storage Facility for Forklift Storage
With forklift storage, you’ll want to find a storage facility that offers vehicle storage. These facilities often have indoor, outdoor, and covered options available to storage renters and know what will work best for certain vehicles.
If indoor storage is an option, the amount of space you’ll need depends on the size of forklift you want to store, as well as the number of forklifts you intend to store. A 10×20 or 10×30 storage unit could work for forklift storage. But if the forklift is too large or if there are multiple forklifts, a facility that offers units in the 14×50 to 20×30 range might work better.
Type of coverage and unit size aren’t the only important aspects of storage to consider when looking for facilities, though. Since forklifts are usually transported on the back of a truck, having a facility that offers wide-drive aisles and drive-up access is a good idea. With wide-drive aisles, trucks can get inside the facility and maneuver around without getting stuck between buildings. Units with drive-up access are helpful in this situation, too, because forklifts can be unloaded directly off of trucks and into units.
When storing expensive machinery like forklifts, a facility with adequate, up-to-date security features—such as gated access, video surveillance, and on-site management—is also something to look for. Regardless of whether forklifts are being stored indoors, outdoors, or under covered sections, protecting forklifts from vandalism or theft is important.
Gated access is one of the more common security features among storage facilities, and it can be very useful when storing company equipment. Since only renters can get into the facility using a code, there are fewer chances of people getting into the facility to vandalize or steal your property. The same is true of video surveillance and property managers who work on-site, both of which provide a constant watch over your stored property.
So what is the best circumstance for storing a company forklift? An indoor storage unit at a facility with security features, drive-up access, and wide-drive aisles. Again, these aren’t requirements for storing forklifts, but if you want to protect your company equipment and have a good self storage experience, these are the conditions that will help.