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The forklift is a very big part of of modern industries.
Distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing places, and other commercial applications depend on forklifts of all types and sizes to keep daily workload
running evenly. 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 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 handle loads of 1k 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
more economical choice.
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Purchasing a forklift is a gigantic investment for small businesses,
and you need to make sure you get one that can handle your needs without
spending too much.
Before you begin looking at forklifts or investigating dealers, you need to determine exactly what you need the forklifts to do. Here are some questions you should answer before you start comparison shopping:
-How high are you looking to lift your loads? -Will you be operating it indoors, outdoors, or each of those?
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.
Important parts to a forklift:
1. The frame itself, 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.The 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 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 loads backrest, 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:
Always 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.
understand your lifting limit.
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 on buying multiple forklifts, 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.