Winter is Coming: A Few Simple Steps to Prepare

Winter is coming and there are a few things you can do to protect your investments when it comes to material handling.

A diesel engine relies on compression and the heat associated with compression in order for the fuel being injected into your engine’s cylinders to combust. Upon combustion, the piston in the cylinder is forced down, therefore causing the engine’s crankshaft to turn. This process occurs in a timed fashion across all of your engine’s cylinders and keeps your engine running. Once running, the engine runs more efficiently as the engine temperature rises.

On a cold day, the heat from the compression in the cylinders may not be warm enough to ignite the fuel. This is why diesel engines are equipped with glow plugs. The purpose of the glow plug is to heat fuel being injected into the cylinder in order to create instant combustion during cold weather.

glow-plugYou’ve probably seen an indicator light on the dash panel of a diesel equipped piece of equipment that reads “Wait to Start” or perhaps an icon that looks like a little heating element. This is reminding you to wait to crank your engine until the glow plugs heat up. Once the glow plugs are hot, much like the heating element in a toaster, a timed relay will cause the indicator to go off to let you know that it is okay to crank your engine.

When the glow plugs start to get fouled or fail, your engine may not start or be hard to start, which can lead to excessive and premature wear on your equipment’s starting system. This no-start or hard-start condition could lead to operators taking the matter into their own hands by using starting aids, such as ether. Please know that this is never recommended, as internal engine damage is most likely to occur. It may or may not present itself immediately, but is washing your engine’s cylinder walls of needed lubricant and damaging the piston rings, which are necessary for the aforementioned compression. In some cases the ether can cause a cylinder to fire before its timed stroke and can cause immediate damage such as bent piston connecting rods (see featured photo). Inspection of and potential replacement of your glow plugs can save costly repairs further down the road.

antifreezeIn addition to the glow plug inspection, it is also necessary to check your equipment’s Coolant, aka Antifreeze, whether you have a diesel, gasoline, or liquefied petroleum (LP) engine. Coolant, typically a mixture of water and ethylene glycol, not only keeps your investment from overheating on those hot summer days, but does what its alias implies and keeps your engine from freezing.

A simple, inexpensive check is recommended to ensure your Antifreeze has the proper mixture to protect against freezing. Over time, ethylene glycol can break down due to rust and other debris in your cooling system and lose its effectiveness which leaves the mixture water dominant. Not only can the water-dominant mixture freeze, it also loses its ability to lubricate seals and rubber hoses, causing cracked hoses and leaking seals. As water freezes, it expands, and can lead to excess pressure in the radiator and/or passageways of your cylinder heads and engine block which can lead to costly cracks or damaged gasket material.

clearcapNow that we covered a couple of important winterization items, let us mention a great way of protecting your most important investment…your Operator. Protect them from the elements of winter by adding a ClearCap to your Lift Truck. A ClearCap is a polycarbonate cap that can be installed to the overhead guard of your lift. It offers shelter and has ribs and gutters to direct rain water away from the operator. A dry operator is a warmer, happier operator. It provides UV protection yet does not restrict the operator’s visibility like makeshift methods of shelter do. So keep those old pieces of plywood and cardboard off of your lift with a ClearCap installation.

Please contact your local CFE Equipment Corporation branch for more details and have a safe and warm winter!

-Michael Horkey

Warehouse Fleet Management – A Technician’s Perspective

This is a guest post from David Holland, one of our technicians at CFE Equipment.

Running a warehouse is a complex and expensive proposition. The list of expenses includes personnel, facilities, equipment, utilities and many more. Every aspect and every minute of the day to day operations have an effect on the bottom line. One small problem in your workflow can cascade to a complete and total shutdown. One of the most likely causes of a total stoppage is a failure of your material handling equipment. A vital piece of logistics equipment in a non-functional state is disastrous.

Forklifts, stackers, pickers and pallet jacks are a necessity for any warehouse of any size. In smaller warehouses, managing the fleet becomes much trickier. You must balance a minimal fleet size with the need to have it constantly in service. Purchasing only one forklift will save you money on your startup costs, but what happens when that forklift breaks down? Most of us have more than one family car, that way we will have a backup plan if we need to place that vehicle in the shop for repairs. The same concept applies in warehouse management.

With so many different types of forklifts, which contain thousands of individual parts, it is difficult for any single local dealer to stock every single piece of every single forklift. This can inevitably lead to a situation, in which a vital piece of equipment will be out of service for a few days while waiting for a part to arrive. This scenario can be disastrous on the scheduling of a warehouse, as it creates a combination of wasted man hours and then an excessive workload once the equipment has returned to service. In total it can lead to greater loss by way of being unable to meet customer demands and paying workers overtime to catch up.

Working as a partner with your local equipment dealer is critical to planning in advance for these downtime scenarios.  They can recommend the right fleet size and provide rental options to scale your overall fleet, no matter your warehouse size. When a necessary piece of equipment goes down, the implications are far reaching. As a technician, I have seen this scenario countless times, and the cost of being either shut down or operating at a limited capacity will quickly outweigh the cost of having additional forklift(s) ready at a moments notice. I will not address exact numbers, as each operation is as unique as a fingerprint; however, with a full understanding of your costs, I believe a short bit of math will confirm this general rule-of-thumb in your particular scenario.

Thank you, and I wish you much success in your current and future endeavors.

David Holland

Keep It Cool!

sun-32198_1280It may still be officially spring, but summer has made an early appearance.  Keeping you forklift equipment cool can be a challenge during this time of year.

Many companies open their overhead doors to allow cooler air to come in to their facility.  Seasonal work puts forklifts outside more.  The accumulation of dirt on the cooling system can cause dangerous overheating.  Regular Preventive Maintenance (PMs) this time of year is paramount.  Flushing the coolant will aid in keeping forklifts at a normal operating temperature.  Do not wait till it is too late!  Costly repairs and down-time can be avoidable.

Contact CFE Equipment today to ask about keeping your forklift cool this summer.

Forklift Parts? When Experience Matters

Parts are parts?  Right?  Wrong.  In the world of forklifts not all parts are created equal.  Having the knowledge of what manufacturer of parts works best for particular a forklift is what makes CFE Equipment one of the best parts dealers in the Virginia/Maryland market.

In many cases, CFE has saved customers money by using proven aftermarket parts.  We constantly evaluate aftermarket parts manufacturers for consistency in quality. Parts from these vetted manufactures  can save money and provide a solid alternative to expensive OEM parts.  However, not all aftermarket parts are superior.  In some cases, OEM parts are the best choice.  After years of workplace applications, our knowledgeable parts staff has honed in on the best options to keep equipment running.

When deciding on what parts to use, experience matters.  Many of our parts employees have years of experience.  Many are, and were former mechanics.  They have real-time access to what parts work best and what will not work for the long haul.

Visit CFE Equipment online and ask for a quote today.

Time for a replacement forklift or new addition to your fleet?

In purchasing a new or used forklift, there are a number of specifications you should consider to selecting the appropriate lift.  In many cases, a complimentary site evaluation by one of our Sales Professionals can provide great value to your operation.  The correct specifications will maximize the productivity of your equipment, reduce product and facility damage, and create the safest work environment.


The basic criteria below will be helpful to understand your material handling needs. The maximum load weight is crucial to determine the correct lift.  We strongly recommend an accurate weight reading.  Oversized lifts can cause operational problems including damage to your facility and additional cost.  Undersized lifts will pose a safety issue.  Please keep in mind, all forklifts will de-rate as the load is lifted higher.  Load capacity at higher levels should always be considered when stacking your heaviest loads.

  • Load to be handled (maximum weight & dimensions)?
  • Lift height required?
  • Preferred fork size?

The following facility and operational information will determine the style of lift required.  Again, we will be more than happy to schedule a visit so we can get a full understanding of your operation.

  • Driving surface description (smooth concrete/asphalt, semi-rough asphalt, rough terrain)?
  • Preferred engine/power (LP Gas, Gasoline, Diesel, Electric)?
  • Is the forklift needed to load/unload trailers or containers?
  • Does the lift need to operate on a ramp?
  • Do you have a racking system?  Aisle width?
  • Does your facility have any low height or narrow door way restrictions?

We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your material handling needs.   Please let us know if you would like to schedule a site visit so we can begin the process.  You can contact us here:


The importance of Preventative Maintenance

What happens when a vital piece of equipment breaks down?  Panic?  Productions slows or comes to a complete stop?

Just like our vehicle that gets us to work, there is a natural tendency to assume our equipment will always be in good working condition.  While there are a laundry list of reasons why our lift equipment can stop working, there is something we can do to help prevent that from happening.

Regular preventative maintenance (PM) on lift equipment is a low cost expense with the absolute potential to save money via down time.  With capable mechanics regularly inspecting one or a fleet of forklifts, a company can lower the probability that there will a stop in production, and in turn, keep customers happy.


Other benefits from regular preventive maintenance include a snap shot of the forklift fleet.  This can help better budget for future expenditures on lift equipment and repairs.  A competent forklift mechanic should be informing the customer of repairs that are priority and others that the customer needs to be aware of.  OSHA also requires certain aspects of the lift equipment to be in good working condition.  Teaming up with a Forklift Service Company can help you stay compliant.

A PM is more than an oil and filter change (on an internal combustion lift).  It is an opportunity for the service provider and the customer to work together to turn potential downtime into more constant uptime.

If you wish to learn more about what you can do to save your company money and downtime, please contact CFE Equipment.

Why do we recommend operator training?

Forklift Operator Safety Training

Did you know CFE Equipment offers on-site forklift operator training? Do you know why it is important?

Forklift tipping over

The benefits of providing operator training go beyond the obvious mandatory requirement for OSHA. Benefits like improved employee attitude, increased productivity, decreased product damage, lower maintenance costs, and increased operator safety are a few reasons why all companies should invest in their operators.

Each year over 100 workers die in accidents involving powered industrial lift devices. 9 out of every 10 accidents can be attributed to operator error due to inadequate training and/or inadequate enforcement of Company safe work procedures. Most operators do not think about, and have no concept of the damage a forklift could cause.

If you wish to learn more about what you can do to make your company compliant, please contact CFE Equipment. You can also learn more at OSHA’s website here.

Introduction to CFE Equipment Corp’s Blog

We are CFE Equipment Corporation.  You can learn more about us at our website:

We are Virginia and Maryland’s leading forklift dealership.  We have a full set of solutions for your material handling fleet, from procuring new and reconditioned equipment, to rentals, service, and parts.

We will post information about our products and services here as well as important information for procurement specialists, warehouse managers and forklift operators alike.  Please check in with us periodically and let us know on which topics you’d like to see more information.