“When operators make the decision to buy a forklift truck, they consider the lifetime cost of the truck – not just the upfront purchase price. And a vital component in this cost is, of course, service and repair costs,” says Jeff Aylott, Head of Aftersales, Linde Material Handling UK.
While the majority of operators will choose to take out a full service contract with the truck to provide the benefits of predictable monthly costs – avoiding major cost surprises, it is nevertheless important that operators consider the benefits and potential pitfalls that can come packaged from their service provider.
“To most operators it might seem obvious, but it is important to read the terms and conditions of the contract carefully as it can make a significance difference to the lifetime cost of the truck,” says Mr Aylott. For instance, what are the return conditions? What level of repair or rectification is the operator responsible for at the end of the contract: is there a standard for tyre condition on return? What will the supplier consider as reasonable wear and tear as against chargeable damage?
Does the contract contain any exclusion or stipulations that could result in additional maintenance or repair costs e.g. are there any usage or application clauses? And what about hidden extras: is the operator exposed to penal out-of-hours or travel costs – are these included in the contract or will they be charged extra?”
Mr Aylott says it is also important to understand the capability of the potential supplier. “You need to ask if the technicians are properly trained – do they have access to proper diagnostics tools and up to date manufacturer technical information? Are they competent in health & safety terms? Are they insured if there is an accident on the working site?”
And then there is the issue that many third party service providers do not use original equipment parts – often because this is a way of the lowering the cost of the service contract. Mr Aylott explains that there are important issues to be considered here by the operator.
“Firstly, the use of non OE [non original] parts, could lead to premature wear or failure and could cause consequential damage to the truck. Whilst the repair cost may be hidden within the total agreed contract cost, there is the impact of the truck being out of operation, and at worst it could invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.”
Mr Aylott goes on to make the point that it is too often the case that operators assume that signing up to a manufacturer’s service contract is expensive. “This is not necessarily a valid assumption. The guarantee of genuine parts being used, fitted by well trained and skilled technicians who are working to manufacturer’s instructions equals quality work, carried out in a time efficient way. This combination will usually provide for lower total operating cost over the life of the truck.”
The key to a good service and maintenance package is to deal with a company which proactively works with its customers to design and deliver maintenance and repair plans which are precisely suited to their needs.
Mr Aylott sells the benefits of his company’s aftersales proposition. “Linde offers a comprehensive range of operator support packages – all of which can be linked to a lease finance arrangement. All packages are based on a set of sound principles: we work to reduce the operator’s costs; we use only genuine original equipment parts, we deploy only fully trained and competent engineers and we don’t sneak in hidden contract clauses.”
Linde Material Handling UK