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When it comes to buying a new or reconditioned forklift, there are an almost infinite number of options to choose from. So how can you make sure you are getting exactly the right type of forklift that fits your business’s specific needs?
It’s simple! All you have to do is follow this easy, seven-step checklist:
Step 1: Where are you going to use this forklift?
How you are planning on using your forklift can help you narrow down the selection process. For example, will it be used on smooth surfaces or rough? Indoors, outdoors or both? How many hours per day do you plan to use your forklift?
Step 2: What size loads/capacity will you be handling with your forklift?
You want your forklift to have all the power you need, but you don’t want to pay too much for power you won’t ever use. That’s why it’s important to look at the maximum lift capacity you will be handling.
Other considerations include the type of stock you will be lifting, the average load weight, and the width of your loads.
Load type is especially important because there are specific forklift attachments that can expand the usefulness of a standard forklift and help you move loads more efficiently. These include appliance clamps, carton clamps, paper roll clamps, and so on.
Step 3: What height will you need to reach?
Just as important as maximum load is maximum height. Consider where you will be loading/offloading your loads. What is the highest point the forklift will need to reach? Are there any height restrictions to consider, such as ceiling beams, low-hanging lighting fixtures, ducts and so on?
Another often-overlooked consideration is the collapsed height of the mast, especially if you need to move your forklift beneath a fixed height structure such as a dock door, a garage entrance, or into a cargo container.
It’s also important that you check the warehouse height and aisle width requirements so you don’t get a vehicle that is too big or too small.
Step 4: What type of fuel will power your vehicle?
If you are operating your forklift indoors in an area without adequate ventilation, it would be a mistake to get a diesel or gasoline-powered forklift. In this instance, an electric-powered forklift would make more sense.
But electric forklifts tend to cost more upfront and they require downtime for the batteries to be recharged. Gas or diesel forklifts can lift bigger loads and move faster.
Step 5: What type of tires will you need?
The two most common tire types are solid or pneumatic, but there also are white non-marking tires and cushioned tires. Each are suited to different uses in specific environments.
Step 6: How long will the operator be using the vehicle?
Ergonomics is a growing concern among forklift owners because long hours in jolty, uncomfortable cab can lead to increased worker injuries, stress and turnover. Investing more in ergonomics at the front end can often pay dividends down the line.
Step 7: Do you need a brand new vehicle?
The answer to this question depends on how long you plan to use your vehicle per day. If it’s more than four hours/day, 7 days/week, then a new or leased vehicle may make the most sense. But if you are only going to use your forklift a few hours per day or intermittently, a less expensive used vehicle may be your best option.