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There currently are dozens of specialized forklift attachments that can be used for all kinds of applications, from lifting liquid-filled barrels to moving bulky carpet rolls to transporting heavy steel coils from place to place within your warehouse or work yard.
But having the right attachments is not enough. To ensure maximum productivity and increased safety, it’s also critical that that forklift attachments you use are properly installed on your vehicle.
Easy vs. Complicated Installations
Some forklift attachments are relatively easy to install. Many snap into place when you move their sleeves over the forklift’s forks. But other require more complicated installs.
For example, some attachments put additional pressures on the vehicle’s hydraulic fluid or affect the flow rates between the attachment and the truck, which can result in overheating, insufficient force, or even too much force for the attachment to work properly.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Technology
Dick Wiley, business development manager for Bolzoni-Auramo, recently told Modern Materials Handling that the new advanced technologies are making it easier to configure attachments with vehicles properly can also cause more problems when they improperly installed.
“Before, the truck had a certain hydraulic pressure and they just hooked up an attachment and hoped it worked right,” Wiley said.
He added that the 800-psi lift cylinders of forklifts built a few decades ago have been replaced with smaller 3,600-psi cylinders to improve visibility. The result is that newer forklifts have much faster lift speeds, but they also have lower flow rates to their hydraulics — something that needs to be taken into account when installing attachments.
“If the flow is too high, it causes excessive heat in the truck and the attachment, significantly shortening the lift of both,” Wiley said. “I’ve seen examples where the lift truck is so hot you can’t put your hand on the counterweight.”
An excessive build-up of heat can lead to other problems as well, such as melting o-rings and sending dangerously hot oil back into the vehicle’s transmission.
Using the Best Tools Available
To account for this, a lot of newer models of forklifts come with onboard computers that automatically adjust the flow and pressure of the vehicle, even when they are equipped with attachments. This type of technology means an additional valve to control flow and heat are no longer necessary.
Still, operators need to be familiar with the pressures attachments are placing on their vehicles and make sure they are installed properly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If the attachment doesn’t come with an installation guide, check with the dealer you purchased or rented it from. In the worst case scenario,most can usually be found online quickly using a Google search that includes the attachment’s make, model and the words “owner’s manual.”
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Wiley said. “The first time a paper clamp drops a roll, the customer might believe they selected the wrong equipment. As lift trucks and attachments become more sophisticated, the lines of communication between truck manufacturer, attachment manufacturer, dealer sales and service become imperative.”