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The forklift is one of the most popular tools of modern industries.
Distribution houses, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and many other commercial applications depend on forklifts of all types and sizes to keep the daily work
running as smooth as possible. Other businesses only need a forklift to unload deliveries for an hour or two a day. Either way, having a forklift that can perform well for your specific
needs is vital.
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Forklifts are named for the L-shaped forks
typically used to lift shipping pallets, but they can be
outfitted with different accessories for picking up spools, drums, or other specific loads
too. Also called lift trucks they are available for both indoor and outdoor
applications and can run with loads of 1,500 lbs
to 30,000 lbs or more. If your usual load is less than 1k lbs, a pallet jack or hand truck is probably a
more economical choice.
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Purchasing a forklift is a big investment for small businesses,
and you need to make sure you get one that can handle your job without
going over you expense budget.
Before looking at forklifts or investigating dealers, you need to determine exactly what you need the forklifts to do. These would be important questions to ask before you start comparison shopping:
-How much room do you have to maneuver? -How big are your smallest lanes? -How many hours each day is it going to be used?
Important Forklift Facts:
New vs. used
Deciding whether you will buy a new or used forklift is a good place to start narrowing
your options. A good refurbished or reconditioned forklift is a great choice to save money.
Forklifts that are used more than 4 hours per day are major part of your operation. With
this much use, the operating and maintenance costs for bad equipment can quickly wipe out
the initial savings you gained.
If the lift truck will be used only a couple of hours per day, you can probably benefit
from buying a used truck. When the dealer gets a used lift truck back at the end of a
lease, they usually recondition it with a new paint job, new tires, a thorough engine
tune-up, and any other mechanical repairs that need to be made, so you can feel reasonably
confident in the condition of the truck. As-is trucks can save you even more
money, but may have original paint, worn tires (unless otherwise noted)
Many dealers offer both new and used forklifts, so you can compare prices easily. Make
sure to inquire about the difference in service plans between new and used models.
Parts of a Forklift:
1. The truck frame, which is a motive machine with wheels powered through a
transmission and drive train.
2. An LPG, gasoline or diesel fueled internal combustion engine, or a battery-powered
3.The counter balance, which is a heavy iron mass attached to the rear of the machine,
necessary to compensate for the load. In an electric forklift, the large lead-acid battery
itself may serve as a counterweight.
The mast, which is the vertical assembly that does the work of raising, lowering, and
tilting the load; the mast is hydraulically operated and consists of a cylinder and
interlocking rails for lifting and lowering operations and for lateral stability.
4. The carriage, which comprises flat metal plate(s) and is moved along the mast by
means of chains.
5. Forks, which are the L-shaped members that engage the load. The back vertical portion
of the fork attaches to the carriage by means of a hook or latch; the front horizontal
portion is inserted into or under the load, usually on a pallet. Alternatively, a variety
of other equipment is available, including slipsheet clamps, carton clamps, carpet rams,
pole handlers, and others.
6. The strong back rest, which is a rack-like extension attached to the carriage to
prevent the load from shifting backward.
7. The driver's overhead guard, which is a metal roof, supported by posts, that helps
protect the operator from any falling objects.
8. The cab, with a seat for the operator and pedals and switches for controlling the
machinethe cab is typically open and bounded by the cage-like overhead guard
Important Tips To Remember:
Keep up with training.
OSHA training may seem like an unnecessary hassle and expense, since the rules are not
strictly enforced. However if you have a fork lift accident, OSHA will investigate your
training and licensing procedures and can levy significant fines if you have not followed
all the procedures.
Don't go over your capacity.
Attachments like sideshift, adjustable forks, and spool handlers reduce load capacity of
fork lifts. Every fork lift should have a capacity plate attached to it detailing what its
capabilities are in its current configuration.
Try more than one model...
If you arent familiar with fork lifts, I strongly recommend renting a couple of
different models for a month each. You will be able to get a much better sense for the
strengths and weakness of different types of lifts.
but stick with one brand once you decide.
If you plan to buy multiple fork lifts, standardizing on one brand gives you the
advantage of dealing with one dealer for all your warranty and repair needs. Your
operators will also benefit by not having to learn the control and handling quirks of
multiple types of fork lifts. In some cases, this may not be possible, since not every
manufacturer makes every type of fork lift and you may need multiple specialized machines.