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Access 101

How to Perform Pre-Operation Inspections on Telehandlers

Blog Posts - Jun 23

How to Perform Pre-Operation Inspections on Telehandlers

John Boehme
Senior Product Manager - Telehandlers
JLG Industries

To ensure your telehandler is ready to operate, it’s important to properly maintain the machine—and that starts with the pre-operation inspection.

These inspections should be performed by the operator at the beginning of each work shift or when there’s a change in the operator. Educating operators will ensure the checks are done correctly, which also helps to prevent unplanned downtime. 

So before operating a telehandler, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s Operation and Safety Manual to inspect these components. Manuals for JLG MEWPs can be accessed here or in the technical publications section on Online Express, the company’s online parts purchasing system and resource center.

How to Perform Pre Operation Inspection

Overall equipment cleanliness
Hours of operation can leave dirt and other signs of wear on a telehandler, especially if you have operated it in harsh environments. Ensuring the telehandler is clean not only prevents foreign objects from damaging the machine, but it also helps identify potential leaks.

For example, finding oil, fuel or battery fluid on the machine could indicate leakage that would need to be reported to the maintenance team. Keeping the equipment clean will make it easier to spot these issues.

Telehandler’s structure
It’s also important to look for dents, damage, cracks (parent metal or weld) and any other discrepancies. Damage to the structure could indicate problems with internal components or lead to other issues if it spreads. Keep records of any damage so operators will know if the issue is new or has already been addressed.

Safety decals
All of the safety decals and plates originally supplied with the machine should be legible and in the correct location. These decals show operators potentially dangerous areas of operation to avoid, and it’s also an OSHA regulation to keep them in place.

Reference the machine’s Operation and Safety Manual to see where all of the “Danger,” “Warning,” “Caution” and other instructional decals are located. Replace any decals that are missing, and clean decals and plates that have become illegible. 

Fluid levels
Ensuring fluids are kept at the proper levels before operation will cut down on needed stops to fill them up—and also help prevent damage caused if the fluid runs out. That includes fuel, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), hydraulic oil, engine oil and coolant. 

Wipe all of the dirt and grease away from the ports before removing the filler caps or fill plugs. If you allow dirt to get into these ports, it could severely reduce the component’s life—causing increased costs and unplanned downtime.

Be sure to use the proper type and intervals when adding the fluid. If a fluid is decreasing faster than the given interval, that could indicate a leak or other issue. It’s important to keep updated records that show how often fluids are added to identify these changes.

Attachments and accessories
If you have any attachments or accessories installed on the telehandler, you will need to reference the machine’s Operation and Safety Manual for those during the pre-operation inspection, as well. Check that the correct capacity charts are installed, and follow the given inspection, operation and maintenance instructions given for the attachment or accessory.

Walk-around inspection
It’s important to walk around the telehandler to check common wear items. These include the boom sections and cylinders, front axle, wheel/tire assembly, mirrors, cab and electrical, rear axle, engine components, boom retract sensor and frame-level cylinder. Any damage should be noted and reported before the machine is operated.

Check the machine’s Operation and Safety Manual to see what additional components need to be inspected. These can include an attachment recognition antenna, front lights, boom prop, wheel chock, boom angle sensor, reversing camera, reversing system, rear lights, load stability indicator (LSI) sensor, load management indicator system (LMIS), external audible beacon tower, right side camera, front lights and radio frequency identification (RFID) tag if installed.

Warm-up and operational check
After those components have been properly inspected, it’s time to warm up the telehandler and perform a warm-up and operational check. Be sure to perform this check in an area that is free from any ground or overhead obstructions. Again, refer to your manual to see which components your telehandler is equipped with and need to be checked.

While the engine is warming up, make sure the heater, air conditioning and wipers are working properly. Turn on all of the lighting systems to ensure they are operating correctly and none are out. Adjust the mirrors so they provide maximum visibility. 

Once the engine has been warmed up and those items are completed, it’s time to perform an operational check. Engage the service and parking brakes to make sure both work. Shift between gears, joystick features and steer in both directions with the engine at low idle. Also, make sure the horn and backup alarm can be heard from inside the operator's cab with the engine running.

If the telehandler is equipped with remote boom control, check that all of the guards protecting the switches and locks are in place. Operate all of its functions and check the limiting and cut-out switches to make sure everything is working properly. Push in the “Emergency Stop Button” to ensure all of the functions are disabled.

Remember: Inspections will need to be performed more often when the telehandler is used in harsh environments. If issues are found, the machine should not be operated until those are addressed.

Pre-operation inspection vital to success
Whether it’s onboarding a new hire or refreshing current team members, educating operators on how to conduct pre-operation inspections pays dividends with safety, efficiency and reducing downtime. 

Talk with your equipment dealer about local regulations regarding telehandler requirements, as those may vary. Dealers can also provide an array of resources and support. JLG offers updated educational materials, training and information on parts and services to help keep your equipment up and running.

For more information on parts and services to support your JLG telehandlers, click here.

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