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The forklift is one of the workhorses of past and modern industries.
Manufacturing facilities, warehouses, distributing centers, and many other commercial applications depend on forklifts of all sorts of types and sizes to keep their operations
running easily. Other businesses only need a forklift to unload deliveries for a few hours a day. Either way, having a forklift that can perform well for your specific
needs is an important part.
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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
jobs and can move around with loads of 1,500 lbs
to 30,000 lbs or more. If your usual load is less than 3,000 lbs, a pallet jack or hand truck is probably a
more workable choice.
Getting a forklift is a big investment for small businesses,
and you need to make sure you get one that can handle your requirements without
spending too much.
Before you begin glancing at forklifts or checking into 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:
-Will you need a gas, diesel or electric lift?
-Do you need solid tires, cushion type or rough terrain?
Important Forklift Facts:
There are two types of tires to choose from: cushion tires, which are made of solid
rubber, and pneumatic tires, which are inflated with compressed air. For internal
applications, cushion tires are the best choice; for outdoor work, you may want more
expensive pneumatic tires.
A third option, solid pneumatic tires, are ideal for outdoor environments where
there is a high risk of popping regular pneumatic tires: lumber yards or recycling
centers where nails or glass can be scattered around. They combine the solid-rubber
construction of cushion tires with the rough terrain capabilities of pneumatic tires, and
typically are more expensive than the other two types.
The Major Parts of a Forklift:
1. The truck proper, 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.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 forklift 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 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:
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.
Be sure you understand the lift 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 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're planning to buy more than one forklift, 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.
Thursday, 27-Nov-2014 08:08:43 CST