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The forks attached to forklifts are tough and can be used literally 24 hours per day for years without showing wear or damage. But they don’t last forever.
Like the other parts of your forklift, forks should be inspected regularly before and after every shift. And in addition to a visual inspection, a more thorough annual inspection should be conducted annually by a trained professional.
What to Look for During a Fork Inspection
Some damage to forks can be obvious. For example, fractures caused by collisions and stress can often be seen by the naked eye. Parts closest to the mast and the fork’s heel are most likely to experience this kind of damage.
Look for even small gouges and cracks. These can be signs that the fork will need to be replaced either immediately or in the very near future.
Another obvious sign is excessive wear to the forks. Most forks are made of thick, durable steel. But even this tough material can decrease in thickness during prolonged use.
If the fork is worn more than 10 percent of its original thickness, it is considered to be excessive and may need to be replaced.
Fork Tips and Uneven Surfaces
The tip of the fork is the area that takes the brunt of collisions with pallets and other loads. So it’s the most likely place for excessive wear or damage. If the tip of your forklift fork is bent, split, or otherwise damaged, you may need to replace the entire fork.
When new forks are installed on a forklift, they are delivered with a 90-degree angle from shank to blade. Prolonged use, however, can cause bends and uneven surfaces to form on the shank and blade, limiting its ability to perform properly.
Another thing to look for is a height difference between the fork blades. If this difference is more than 3 percent, it may be time to repair or replace one or both blades.
Fork Hook and Positioning Lock
The fork hook is another critical part of the fork assembly. If there is crushing, pulling, noticeable wear, or other deformities on the fork hook, it may need to be replaced. Similarly, if the wear to the hook is causing a gap between the fork and the carriage, it’s probably time for a new one.
If you can’t lock your positioning lock due to damage, it needs to be repaired or replaced. Running your forklift without a working positioning lock is an accident waiting to happen and can put your products and people at risk.