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Is It Time to Replace Your Forks?

Forklifts are an invaluable tool in warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Without them, most operations could not continue. And the most important part of a forklift is the forks themselves, which carry the lift’s load.

When a forklift’s forks are worn, bent, broken, or damaged, it not only affects the lift’s ability to function properly, but can also put your product and the personal safety of your employees at risk. To ensure that your forklift is in top working condition, the lift’s forks should be inspected regularly and replaced if any damage is found.

Conduct the following inspections to determine if it is time to replace your lift’s forks:

Wear

First, check the forks for normal wear. The thickness of the forks wears down over time as the lift carries loads. You can use a special fork caliper tool to measure the forks for wear. If the wear reduces by 10% or more of the original thickness, it is time to replace the forks.

Surface cracks

Inspect the top and bottom of the forks for cracks. Cracks occur over time with normal operation, or more frequently if the forklift carries a load beyond its load capacity. If there are any cracks, the forks need to be replaced.

Make sure to carefully check the areas where the area where the forks attach to the lift truck, as cracks often develop there.

Evenness of the forks

If you operate a lift with uneven forks, you run the risk of damaging the load or even tipping the forklift. Carefully inspect the forks to make sure they are even. The difference in the height of each fork tip should not exceed 3% of the length of the blade.

Straightness of the blade and shank

If the blade or shank of the forklift has been distorted or bent, they need to be replaced. The blade refers to the blades that the load sits on. The shank is the vertical component of the forks that attach to the carriage.

If the straightness deviates from 0.5% of the length of the blade, or 0.5% of the height of the shank, the forks must be repaired or replaced.

Fork angle

In addition to the checking that the blade and shank are straight, you should also check the fork angle where the blade and shank meet. If the angle exceeds 3° from the original angle, the forks should not return to service.

If any of the above do not fit the specifications for your particular forklift, it is time to replace the lift’s forks. General forklift inspections should be performed before every use, while federal law mandates that forks are inspected by trained personnel once a year.

There are a few things you can do to ensure that you get the most life possible out of your lift’s forks. Never push your lift beyond its limits. Pay attention to load capacity, and do not carry loads that extend too far out on the forks. Additionally, you should only use forklifts for their intended purpose.

While you can replace forks to get more life out of your lift, forklifts do not last forever. But by performing the inspections above and conducting the appropriate repairs or replacements, you can ensure optimal performance for your forklift.

Choosing the Right Forklift Mast

There’s a lot that goes into finding the right forklift for your operation. From sit-down versus stand-up lifts to electric versus hydrogen powered, there are many factors that go into choosing the right forklift. But one important factor for buyers or renters to consider when choosing a forklift is the lift’s mast.

The mast, also referred to as the upright, is the part of the forklift that lifts the load. The mast consists of an elevation mechanism and the fork. Like the various types of forklifts, different masts have their advantages and work better in certain environments.

The following are the four common types of forklift masts:

Single Stage Mast

A single mast has only one lifting channel and a limited lifting height. The mast channel and forks move simultaneously, which accounts for the single stage’s limited lifting height. These masts are best for lower lift heights and basic tasks like lifting a load onto the back of a truck.

Two Stage Mast

More common than the single stage mast is the two stage mast. Like the single stage, a standard two stage mast can also be used for lower lift heights. A duplex mast, however, has free lift available. Free lift means the mast and forks move separately.

A duplex mast has two lift sections, which allow for free lift. The load rises alone to the top of the mast using the free lift cylinder, then the second lift section continues to lift the load. Free lift allows the load to reach higher than the single stage mast.

Three Stage Mast

The three stage mast is the most versatile and has become the most common type of forklift mast. Very similar to a duplex mast, this mast contains three lift sections  to reach its maximum height.

With three lift sections, this mast can extend loads further and reach greater distances. The three stage mast works well in facilities that require higher lift heights for stacking, and is great for general warehouse use.

Quad Mast

Continuing the trend of the two stage and three stage masts, the quad mast has four lift sections, allowing even further extension. These masts are used for very high stacking in specialized industries. Operating a quad mast typically involves advanced training for operators.

In addition to the type of mast, there are other considerations that go into choosing the right mast for your forklift. For example, consider the mast’s lowered height for storage purposes and maneuverability in your facility.

If you have any questions regarding the different types of forklift masts and their purposes, contact the KION North America dealer nearest you. We can help you find the right forklift and mast for your operation.