Forklifts, also known as lift trucks, perform a range of tasks in various businesses, including lifting shipping pallets, spools, drums and additional specific loads. A forklift can do the work of 20 warehouse workers and can carry loads over 100,000 lbs. They are used frequently by warehouses, manufacturing plants, lumber yards and distribution centers. Forklifts save money – and time too. Forklifts are available for outdoor and indoor work and applications, but how do you know what type you need for your business?
It is essential to answer the following questions before purchase:
1. Where would you be using the forklifts – indoors, outdoors or both?
2. How many hours will the forklifts be used daily?
The following should then be considered:
Determine the height of the shelves in your warehouse, and find a machine that is suitable.
Forklifts are generally rated according to the weight they are capable of lifting. The most popular capacity is 3000 lbs. to 8000 lbs., but the available capacities go over 100,000 lbs. Determine the average, as well as the maximum, load sizes that your business needs. Cubic measurements also can determine which lift to purchase. Loads of more than four cubic feet in size will be difficult to lift. If you are uncertain of the weight or load capacity you need, ask a forklift dealer to help you establish the correct size for the specific needs of your business. If your business is expanding, you can consider purchasing a machine with a higher capacity.
The internal combustion engines that operate on liquid propane gas, gasoline, diesel or compressed natural gas can be refueled very quickly, and their initial costs are lower as well. These machines can lift the much bigger loads and move faster, too.
Electric forklifts on the other hand, cost more initially, but your business will save over time because they make use of batteries that are rechargeable. They operate very quietly and produce absolutely no emissions.
Type of tires
Forklifts use three different types of tires. Machines used indoors use cushion tires which are made of a solid rubber; electric forklifts usually have these. Machines that are used outdoors mainly use pneumatic tires that are inflated with ordinary compressed air. There is also a solid version of the pneumatic tire; these cost more, mainly because they have to withstand rough outdoor terrain and are more solid in design.
Standard forklifts need aisles at least 11′ wide to allow them to turn around and operate without obstruction. For aisles that are 8′ – 10′ in width, a NA (narrow aisle) machine is used. For aisles that are 6′ wide, the VNA (very narrow aisle) machine is used. The NA machines are able to turn and adjust their forks at perfect angles.
Certain attachments and special tools are needed to lift 55-gallon drums, to pick up flat panels with items on them, and to pick up rolls of steel and cable. There are many types of attachments available, such as paper roll clamps, appliance clamps, carton clamps and more.
Backup beepers, headlights and amber lights which flash are offered with most standard forklifts.
This feature on a forklift allows you to move any load left and right without having to move the truck. This allows for accurate load placements.
Better quality adjustable seating and comfortable controls are important because forklift operators are sitting in their machines for hours at a time. Quality ergonomics will lessen the incidence of injuries such as back pain caused by repetitive tasks performed in uncomfortable seating.
New vs. used forklifts
Most companies consider buying a good used machine before investing in a new one. It is the preferred option, not only because of the weak economy, but because used machines offer much better value for money. You could easily find a used forklift that is still in very good working condition at a low price, which will give you many years of great service. Several reputable dealers are available to help you find the best used forklifts offered for your business needs.