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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Forklift – Expert Tips

Whether your business is in warehousing, construction, storage, or shipping, forklifts are essential to help you operate efficiently. However, choosing the right equipment can be difficult. 

Load Capacity

Choosing a forklift with the correct load capacity is essential for safe material handling. Load capacity is the maximum amount of weight a forklift can carry. It indicates how much the vehicle can safely lift based on its size, center of gravity, and location on the stability triangle. A forklift’s capacity is the total load weight at its standard load center, usually 24 inches. However, most loads are not perfectly shaped cubes with their center of gravity at the standard load center. Knowing how high you lift your load and attachment type can also influence your selection. Most forklift sales depend on the load capacity requirement of clients from different industries.

Lift Height

The lift height of a forklift is one of the most important factors to consider. You need a forklift to reach the high places where your items are stored. If you choose a forklift with a low lift height, your operations could be negatively impacted. Whether you need a single-stage or two-stage mast, a forklift with a single-stage mast offers free lift, but its inner channel can be extended for greater lift heights (generally up to 157 inches/13 feet). This information is crucial because it helps you decide what forklift suits your facility’s needs. This includes knowing how your warehouse is set up and how narrow your aisles are so you can choose a forklift with a smaller turning radius.

Tires

Your forklift’s tires are an important aspect of the equipment that needs to be properly matched to your work environment and application. This will help ensure your forklift can handle heavy loads and move over rough surfaces without damaging the tires or causing an unsafe imbalance that could result in a tip-over accident.

The type of tire you choose will affect your forklift’s overall performance and maintenance costs. Your choice will also depend on the surface you will use your forklift over and whether you will work outdoors or indoors. There are several options from most company’s forklift inventory.

Consider polyurethane or cushion tires if you use your forklift in a harsh environment. These tires generally have up to twice the life of rubber tires. They are resistant to abrasions and chemical exposure.

Attachments

Forklift attachments allow for greater versatility and productivity but can also be dangerous if not properly used. It’s important to fully understand how a specific attachment impacts a forklift and its load capacity before attempting to use it. Doing so could damage the attachment or put the operator in danger.

For example, side shifters and fork positioners can hydraulically move a fork to the left or right, increasing the amount of product handling. This can help streamline pallet and container loading in fast-paced warehouses.

Carton clamps are a popular choice to handle uniquely shaped loads like cartons. These attach to the top of a forklift and can be quickly attached and disconnected from the truck to move on to the next job.

Safety

When choosing a forklift, safety must be a priority. This includes ensuring operators have adequate training, creating a safe working environment, and prioritizing safety features.

Non-drivers must also be trained to safely interact with forklifts, including understanding blind spots and avoiding sudden movements. Facilities should also consider implementing dedicated pedestrian walkways or color-coded surfaces that mark areas where forklifts and people operate.

Refueling and recharging forklifts can also present hazards due to the flammability of diesel or propane and the generation of toxic fumes like carbon monoxide when batteries are charged. Providing proper ventilation can help reduce these risks. Workers should also wear hard hats, protective eyewear, and other required PPE when operating a forklift. This helps them avoid being hit by the load or other accidents.

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