Most people who run a warehouse are probably aware of the various types of forklifts that are available out there. However, warehouses are not always equipped with the right forklift for their specific material handling needs. With so many options out there, it can be hard to narrow down your options and find the perfect fit. But it is important to find and use the best forklift- or forklifts- for your warehouse operations, as this choice can have a serious effect on the efficiency and operation of your warehouse. Here are some factors you should keep in mind when determining the right forklift for your material handling needs.
Application and Environment
The first questions you want to ask are how and where will the forklift be used? The specifications for your forklift are impacted by the layout and environment of the warehouse in which the lift will be operated. Will it be used indoors or out, on rough or smooth surfaces? You will also want to consider the width of aisles in the warehouse. Forklifts vary in size, wheel type, turning radiuses, etc. and the layout and environment of your warehouse need to be considered when choosing a forklift that will fit your needs.
As far as application, what operations will the forklift be performing? Will it be used to stock items on high shelves or transporting materials over longer distances? The ways in which you utilize the forklift in the warehouse environment will affect the specifications of the appropriate lift. The following factors will go into further detail on these elements of choosing a forklift.
Load capacity is one of the most important factors in finding the right forklift for your material handling needs. Choosing the correct lift depends on the size and weight of the load. If you choose a forklift with a load capacity lower than you require, you will be left with a useless lift. Think about the heaviest and widest loads your lift will be handling, and choose a lift accordingly. The specifics of the load will also determine what kind of attachments or clamps need to be included with your forklift.
When considering load capacity, you should also consider height requirements for your forklift. Do you have high shelves on which you’ll need to stack materials? What are the height requirements for safely lifting materials onto your shelves? You also need to check the height of the mast when collapsed to ensure that it will fit through doorways and under beams or other fixed structures.
Fuel or Power Source
Forklifts are electrically powered or run on gas or diesel. Fuel or electric, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Similar to the forklift itself, the right option is also quite dependent on environment. Fuel-powered lifts may be the right choice for outdoor work, as these powerful, reliable machines are faster and can move bigger loads, but require an open area with plenty of ventilation to keep operators and surrounding workers safe.
Electric forklifts work well in small, indoor spaces, working quietly and producing no emissions, but are ill-suited for outdoor operations. Electric lifts have higher initial and maintenance costs and require long periods of time to recharge, but typically have a longer lifespan than fuel-powered lifts.
Laws and Regulations
Regulations and requirements for your warehouse and its operations are determined by both national and local organizations or authorities. Local agencies or government entities may dictate certain requirements and specifications for the forklift you use and operations a lift performs. OSHA also regulates safety regulations and similar specifications. Knowing the requirements from the onset will save you time and money, as adjusting the forklift or fitting it with necessary fixtures later on may become costly.
There are many factors you should consider when purchasing or renting a forklift, but considering these important elements will help put you on the right track to finding the perfect lift for your operational needs. If you have any questions regarding different forklifts and their material handling capabilities, KION North America is happy to help. Visit our website to view our product selector or learn how you can contact us.