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The forklift is one of the workhorses of modern workforce.
Warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, and many other commercial applications depend on forklifts of many types and sizes to keep their operations
running as smooth as can be. Other businesses only need a forklift to unload deliveries for less than a couple hours a day. Either way, having a forklift that can perform well for your specific
needs is an important component.
Forklifts many times 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
jobs and can handle loads of 500 lbs
to 30,000 lbs or more. If your usual load is less than 500 lbs, a pallet jack or hand truck is probably a
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Obtaining a forklift is a large investment for small businesses,
and you need to make sure you get one that can handle your needs without
spending money you don't have.
Until you start looking at forklifts or investigating dealers, you need to determine exactly what you need the forklifts to do. Here's a short checklist of things to ask about before you start comparison shopping:
-How heavy and what size are your typical loads?
-How high do you need to lift the load?
-Will you be using it indoors, outdoors, or both?
-How much room do you have to maneuver? How wide are your narrowest aisles?
-How many hours per day will it be used?
-These answers will help you determine exactly what kind of forklift you need.
Important Forklift Facts:
A close second to “How much do you need to lift?” is “How high do you need to lift it?” If your primary use for the forklift is loading and unloading trucks, you may not need much height at all; if your warehouse has shelves 30’ high, that is a pretty clear indicator of the reach your lift will need.
Unlike load capacity, your height needs are unlikely to change over time barring new construction or major renovations. Buy for the height you need now.
Forklift Training Manual
1. The truck proper, which is a motive machine with wheels powered through a
transmission and drive train.
2. A gasoline, lpg, or diesel powered engine, or a battery-powered
3.A counterweight, 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 lifting mast, 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:
Be up to date 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.
Know 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.
Check out multiple brands...
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 think you're going to need more than one lift, 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.