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Hot Tips for Running Cold Storage Forklifts

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Cold storage warehouses are widely used in the food industry, as well as in the medical supplies, luxury fur, and other industries. Moving materials by forklift in storage areas with temperatures below 0 degrees F presents unique challenges.

Most forklifts are designed to withstand a lot of abuse. But even the sturdiest forklifts can have trouble operating efficiently under the sever conditions found in cold storage facilities ... not to  mention forklift operators.

Specialized Equipment

Forklifts that are specially designed to withstand sub-zero temperatures are commonly used in cold storage warehouses.

These forklifts have oil systems for their hydraulics that feature moisture traps that can help prevent freezing, as well as low-viscosity hydraulic oils to maintain efficiency.

Low-temperature forklfits also oftn have insulated cabs with heaters, bespoke micro switches, and motors that are built to work under extreme cold conditions.

Creating Temperature Zones

Most cold storage warehouses keep the cold in and the warmth out through the use of air guard screens. These are heavy plastic panels that allow forklifts, other equipment, and personnel to pass through without letting the warm air into the freezer.

When not in use, forklifts used in cold storage warehouses are parked outside of the freezers in warm areas to prevent freezing. Some also feature low-humidity temperature areas that help prevent condensation that can freeze when the forklfit returns to the freezer.

More Frequent Battery Charging

Cold can sap the power from the batteries on electric forklifts by up to 35% faster than in normal temperature conditions. So it's likely that battery powered forklifts will need to be recharged more frequently.

To boost the battery's usable life, they should remain on charge when not in use so they can re-enter the cold storage warehouse with a full charge.

Similiarly, the cold can cause other elements of the forklfit to break down faster. Lift chains can become corroded, masts can crack, and hydaulics can freeze up. So frequent inspections are more important than ever for vehicles used in cold storage warehouses.

Operator Comfort

Cold can affect forklifts. But freezing temperatures can also have an impact on the people who drive them.

Forklifts with heated cabs are ideal for use in cold storage warehouses. But when these aren't available, operators should bundle up with heavy clothing and costs, gloves, and hats.

It's important that the cold weather gear the operator wears does not inhibit his or her ability to see or use the forklift's controls.