How To Choose The Right Forklift For Your Operation

••• Liftech

Many people make the mistake of thinking that just any old forklift will get the job done in your material handling application. When in actual fact, the lift truck is a highly customized piece of equipment that has been built specifically for the end user based on their needs. It is important to remember that, just because one type of forklift suits your friend’s workplace, it does not mean that the same type of equipment will meet your needs.

In this article, we have aimed to show you the best way to choose a machine for your operation. In most cases, a professional lift truck supplier will take the time to understand the intended use and facility constraints,ultimately going through a similar process to the one described immediately below.

Match the specs to the facility  Keep in mind that there are no typical specs, just as there is no typical customer. The specifications of a particular forklift have got to match the particular facility where it’s going to be used. This is especially important for larger businesses that require a large number of forklifts, as they often have a number of different facilities to contend with – each with different structural features. Aisles can be narrow, which will dictate the overall size of the equipment. And whether the facility is indoors or outdoors will dictate the fuel source (battery electric or diesel).

Check the intended application  You must also consider the application of the forklift. When used indoors, you will need to consider aisle width, weight, maximum lift height and overhead obstructions; when used outdoors, you will need to consider the type of tire. Some applications may also require speed lifting, whereas this is less important for others.

The presence of lighting may also decrease the need for lighting on the forklift itself. If the application will require rapid refueling, you will find that fossil fuels tend to work best (propane is the easiest to contain, but petrol and diesel also work). Specialty features such as collision alert systems may also prove to be attractive to some users.

Know who your end user is  A good forklift dealer will spend the time learning what your true needs are and will help to pinpoint a machine that meets them all. Some of the key points that will be covered include: forklift class, weight, dimensions and packaging of the material to be lifted; height to which the material will be lifted; whether the operating environment is indoors, outdoors or both; the condition of the operating surfaces; and the projected hours of use on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Any special needs will also be taken into account on the recommendation of a forklift.

Know local laws and incentives It is important to keep in mind that local rules and even government policies can dictate certain specifications that your forklift is required to possess. Occupational Health & Safety regulations for your area may require that a strobe light is fitted, that backup alarms be present, or that other safety equipment is used.

You should be aware of these regulations at the very beginning, as it can be expensive to fit out your forklift with these accessories later on. Information on local laws and incentives can be found on your council website or by contacting them directly.

By following the above tips and instructions, you can rest assured that you will select the right forklift for your needs. Just keep in mind that what suits you will rarely be the perfect fit for someone else, so it is important that you have taken the time to consider the specifications of your facility or facilities, your intended application, your end user, and any local laws or incentives. This will help to ensure that you make the right choice first time around.

Andrew Mark wrote this article on behalf of Liftech Handling.