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There are a number of different variables to consider when selecting a new forklift. One of the most important is the size of the lift. It is advised that you consult with an expert before committing to a particular forklift. Still, there are certain things you can do to assure that due diligence is performed. For example, there is a list of questions you can ask and answer prior to your sojourn to a forklift dealer.
Questions you should be considering and attempting to secure answers include:
• How heavy is the typical load my forklifts carry?
• How high does the load have to be lifted?
• How wide is the aisle space?
• What are the dimensions of the pallets the new lift will have to contend with?
• What is the length of my largest load?
• Will the lift be used indoors or outdoors?
Coming up with the appropriate answers will give you some initial insight when inspecting and considering a range of forklift alternatives.
Other considerations to determine once you answer the questions include:
• The rating plate
• Load center
• Load capacity
• Pallet distribution
• Forklift dimensions
The Rating Plate
It is the responsibility of a forklift’s manufacturer to include a rating plate, a.k.a. a data plate somewhere on the forklift. The plate should be visible to all who inspect the lift.
The plate includes information concerning the forklift. The most important of which is the rated capacity of the machine. This information provides you the understanding whether the forklift being considered is the proper size to perform the tasks you require of it.
A plate could indicate that the forklift is 2,500kgs at a load center of 500mm. The key data is the 500mm load center.
The load center is the distance from the front of the forks to the load’s center of gravity. If the load is 1000mm cube and the weight is evenly distributed, then the load center will be exactly in the middle –- 500mm.
What happens if the load changes size? Let’s say that the load changes to 1200mm cube. The load may be the same weight, but the load center is now 600mm. Moving the load center away from the lift reduces the maximum weight that the lift can handle. This is both a safety and efficiency issue.
Load capacity is a very important variable for you to consider. It is the maximum weight that the lift can safely carry. This information should be on the lift’s rating plate.
It is essential that the maximum capacity stated on the plate of the lift is never exceeded. If it is, then you have an accident just waiting to happen that could not only injure the lift’s operator, but any pedestrians that may be close by.
It is essential that the forklift driver have a good understanding of the load capacity of his vehicle.
If a forklift handles pallets, then the operator should be aware of how pallet distribution can affect the load capacity. When carrying a pallet, is any part of it off center or overhanging the edge of the load carrier? Let’s assume that you have a 1200mm load capacity and the lift is carrying a 1000mm pallet. It is possible that the pallet is overhanging by 100mm all around. That makes the load 1400mm x 1200 mm, an increase of 100mm on the center of the load. This will have a negative affect on the forklift’s rated capacity. This is actually a common occurrence that can cause safety issues if not noticed.
Forklifts are large vehicles. They need to be given an appropriate amount of space in which to maneuver when traveling in aisles. Forklifts can vary greatly in size. So vehicle dimension, including lifting height should be a major consideration when deciding on a new lift. Consider the maximum height you will require the new lift to operate at when deciding on a lift as well.
Of course, it is suggested that you consult with your local dealer when deciding what forklift to select.