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Questions to Ask When Purchasing a Forklift

A forklift is more than just machine—it’s an investment for the good of your business. Purchasing a forklift is not a decision that should not be taken lightly. Every forklift model has its advantages and choosing the model that best suits your material handling needs takes time and careful consideration.

Asking the right questions is vital when investing in new equipment. Whatever your forklift needs may be, make sure to ask these five questions when considering your next purchase.

What is my budget?

Deciding on a budget will not only save you time and resources, but it will also narrow down your options. If you’re not sure whether purchasing a new forklift is the right option for you, other possibilities include leasing, renting or buying used.

While buying a used forklift may seem tempting, keep in mind that buying used means you’ll get shorter life out of the machine. A new forklift is a larger investment, but purchase ensures brand new parts.

Will I be driving the forklift inside or outside?

It’s important to know where you will be operating to determine what type of forklift you should purchase. Electric forklifts are often thought of for use indoors. However, a Linde forklift with its splash-proof electrical system can also be a great option for outdoor use.

When it comes to the difference between indoor and outdoor forklifts, it comes down to the tires versus the power source. Electric forklifts commonly have cushion tires, which are ideal for smooth surfaces or loading docks. They also offer a smaller turning radius and last longer than their pneumatic counterpart.

Internal combustion engine forklifts with pneumatic or super-elastic tires have strong traction on rough or uneven terrain, making them the perfect choice for outdoor applications like construction sites or lumber yards.

What are the maintenance costs?

Owning a forklift is a big responsibility, so make sure to ask about maintenance costs when considering the purchase of a new machine. Typically, there are two types of maintenance agreements that are offered by the forklift dealer.

Planned Maintenance (PM) is a basic plan that states the dealer will perform service to the forklift over a determined schedule. Full Maintenance (FM) charges the customer a monthly fee to cover breakdown and maintenance over a certain period.

Does the brand of forklift matter?

While it may be tempting to purchase a forklift based solely on price, the brand of forklift does in fact matter. You should never buy a forklift based on price alone. Brands like Linde and Baoli are backed by more than 100 years of material handling expertise, making them more reliable. Small or unknown brands may be less expensive, but what you may save in up-front price, you’ll most likely pay for in replacement parts when your forklift breaks down.

Should I try before I buy?

You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, and the same should apply when purchasing a forklift. Before purchasing, request a demo to test the machine in your facility. Test driving a forklift will give you a good idea of how well it functions and how suitable it is for your needs.

By asking these questions and talking to a knowledgeable dealer, you can be sure that you are making a great investment for your business. At KION North America, we provide innovative forklift models to help your business become more productive and profitable. Check out our website to learn more about our models and find a dealer near you.

5 Essential Elements of Forklift Safety

Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that approximately 34,900 forklift injuries occur every year. A number of factors contribute to accidents, including equipment and operator error. To reduce the risk of injury, it is crucial that operators understand the dangers asociated with improper operation of a forklift.

In honor of National Forklift Safety Day on June 12, KION North America urges facility managers to stress the importance of safe forklift operation throughout their facilities. Here are five essential elements of forklift safety that your company must put into practice.

Complete the required training

Only employees who have received proper training and certification can legally operate a forklift. Operators who fail to complete the necessary training have an increased risk of injury to themselves and those around them. Allowing an employee without the proper certification to handle a forklift can result in tens of thousands of dollars in fines for the employer.

OSHA’s training program entails practical training and a workplace performance evaluation. Additionally, OSHA requires that operators are evaluated every three years. An operator must meet OSHA’s training course requirements to continue operating a forklift.

Perform regular checkups

To maximize forklift safety, operators should perform routine inspections of their equipment. Items to check include seat belts, tires, lights, brakes, backup alarms, fluid levels and the forks. Any issues with equipment should be reported to a supervisor, and the forklift should immediately be removed from service.

Stay aware of surroundings

While operating the equipment, operators should be aware of their surroundings as well as worksite rules and guidelines. Carefully observe signs for maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights. Operators should also pay attention to the height of the load when entering and exiting the warehouse.

In regards to pedestrians, it’s important that operators slow down when approaching heavily-populated areas, such as intersections, corners, and stairways.

Maintain load stability

One of the leading causes of forklift-related injuries is tip-over, which can occur when a forklift carries an unstable load. Operators should ensure loads are completely balanced and secured on the forks before operating to prevent tip-overs.

Operators should also keep the load low to the ground to increase safety. When traveling on ramps and grades, the load should point up the incline regardless of the direction of travel.

Store forklifts properly

After a shift has ended, it’s important for each operator to park the forklift in its designated, authorized area. The forks should be fully lowered to the ground, and the parking brake should be applied. Finally, the forklift should be turned off, and the key should be removed from the ignition and stored in the proper place.

Proper operation of forklifts and other material handling equipment is essential to the safety of your warehouse. Let National Forklift Safety Day serve as a reminder to practice these and other elements of forklift safety year-round.

At KION North America, warehouse safety is a top priority. That’s why we provide facility managers with outstanding forklift models leading the way in efficiency and safety. Contact your local authorized dealer today to find the best forklift for your material handling needs.

Sit-Down vs. Stand-Up Forklifts

With so many options for forklifts out there, it can seem like a daunting task to find the right one for your material handling needs. From pallet trucks to counterbalance trucks and everything in between, there are countless forklift options out there, but it is still important to find the right one to suit your warehouse.

One option that you may have trouble with when purchasing a new lift is whether to buy a stand-up or sit-down forklift. Many purchase a sit-down lift because it is the standard, when a stand-up lift may be a better option. Here are some tips for helping you decide between sit-down or stand-up forklifts.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a sit-down forklift is driver comfort. Many have found that a comfortable forklift operator is a productive operator. Studies have also found that happy employees work harder and are more productive, so keeping your driver happy by keeping them off of their feet may be the right thing for your operation.

While sit-down forklifts keep operators comfortable, stand-up forklifts have a few considerable advantages to the standard sit-down. One very important benefit of a stand-up lift is visibility. Sit-down lifts only allow the driver forward facing visibility, forcing the operator to twist look over his shoulder when going in reverse. A stand-up lift, on the other hand, offers full range visibility no matter the direction the forklift is moving.

Another advantage of the stand-up lift is maneuverability. Stand-up lifts often offer better turning radius and range of motion compared to sit-downs. In smaller spaces and close quarters, the maneuverability of a stand-up lift may be preferable. Industry experts also suggest that drivers are more alert when standing up.

Despite a few advantages a stand-up lift boasts, you may still find that sit-down lifts are right for your operation and its productivity. Switching to a stand-up from a sit-down lift may cost your warehouse resources and training time that you would rather avoid. There is no one size fits all when it comes to forklifts, so focus on finding the right lift for your warehouse and its needs.

How to Get Your Forklift Operator Certification

Law requires that employers provide their employees with a safe workplace, and that includes hiring workers that are trained and certified in their field of work, such as operating a forklift. In fact, operating a forklift without the proper training and certification is in violation of federal law. Forklifts are vital tool in the warehouse. But this powerful tool must be handled safely, and only by those who have received proper training and earned their forklift operator certification. Here’s how to get your forklift operator certification.

Rules and regulations for forklift operator certification are stipulated by OSHA. Your company should provide an instructor who offers an OSHA-compliant course. If you decide to conduct the training yourself, you must complete an authorized OSHA trainer course either in the field of construction industry or general industry.

Once training begins, workers must complete two phases. The first phase involves classroom or online instruction, followed by a forklift test. New operators must receive classroom training for 8 hours, experienced operators for 4. Online courses are completed at the individual’s own pace. This phase of training focuses on health and safety information the operator needs to know along with OSHA regulations and the penalties related to them.

After online or classroom training, operators are evaluated by completing an OSHA forklift certification exam. The operator then moves onto the second phase of certification, which involves hands-on training. The training may include completing obstacle courses and utilizing the different controls, ultimately training the operator to work in an equipment and environment-specific setting. Certification requires minimum training of 8 hours of high lifts and 4 hours of low lifts.

After completing the classroom phase, passing the certification exam, and demonstrating competent hands-on skill, the forklift operator may be awarded with his or her certification. The operator must carry their certification card whenever operating a lift, which is valid for three years. After three years, the driver’s performance must be evaluated. Refresher training is only required following an incident or if the driver is found to be operating the forklift unsafely.

Forklifts are powerful tools that can be dangerous when used improperly or operated by someone without training. Not only is having your forklift operator certification required by federal law, it is also essential to the safety and efficiency of the warehouse environment.

Recap: ProMat 2017

MOVING FASTER TOGETHER

The goal for all KION Group companies represented at ProMat was to make a statement. With the largest combined footprint of exhibit space at the show entrance, coordinating signage and aisle lighting directing attendees down KION Boulevard, we achieved that goal.

On day one, we hosted a joint press conference along with Dematic. Gordon Riske, CEO of KION Group, spoke about how far our companies have come and our direction for the future as we leverage our synergies. Scott Watts, executive vice president of Dematic North America, shared how to leverage software and automation to respond to today’s ever-challenging business requirements.

The three closed the press conference by answering questions from members of the media. In their coverage, Materials Management & Distribution magazine wrote “KION stole the show at ProMat.”

If you haven’t had a chance to view, you can watch the replay of our live stream from the press conference on KION North America’s Facebook page.

 

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MAKING HISTORY

KION North America made history with the release of five new forklifts at ProMat—the largest product release in both company and material handling industry history.

The Linde Series 1347 is an electric, cushion tire truck powered by either a 36V or 48V battery. The Linde Series 1219 and 1319 are two internal combustion, counterbalanced torque converter trucks. Powered by a Ford 2.5L fuel-injected engine, the 1219 is suited for outdoor applications whereas the 1319 is suited for indoor use. All three trucks feature load capacities ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 lbs.

The Baoli KBD Series features a Kohler Tier 4 Final diesel engine and load capacities up to 7,000 lbs.

Prior to the show, KION NA also introduced the Linde Series 1279—an electric Class I truck with pneumatic tires with a load capacity of 13,000 to 17,500 lbs. Two additional Baoli models and a Linde Class I stand-on electric will be added to the company’s product line later this year.

With these additions to its Linde and Baoli product lines, the company now has a more comprehensive product portfolio of industrial trucks.

 

Promat 2017 Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang

 

DEALER MEETING & AWARDS

On day three of ProMat, KION North America hosted a meeting for its dealer distribution network. In addition to product information, attendees learned about new services including Lithium-ion battery technology and Linde’s fleet management tool—Connected Solutions, and the company’s new retail financing program.

During the meeting, dealers who do not carry other OEM product lines were presented with KION North America blazers in recognition of their dedication and commitment to the company’s mission. Recipients were as follows: Tim Balint of Advantage Materials Handling; Michel Lavoie of Equipment Industriels Bdl, Inc.; Gene Brogan of Homestead Materials Handling; Ed Mauser, Sr. of Industrial Parts and Service; Chris Reynolds of IPW Lift Techs; Garrett Casey of Kaweah Lift; Mark Milovich of Lift Atlanta; and Greg Radonich of Lift Truck Service, Inc.

Afterward, the company hosted a hospitality event at the original Harry Caray’s location—an iconic Chicago establishment—where guests were treated to a meet and greet with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. At this event, KION North America awarded their top dealers based on their 2016 performance.

 

Promat 2017Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang

 

Promat 2017 Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang

 

TEST DRIVE EXPERIENCE

To complement our booth display at ProMat, KION North America hosted a product showcase and test drive experience at Illinois Material Handling’s new Bolingbrook location on the final day of the show. Other dealers who attended ProMat, as well as customers located throughout the Chicagoland and Rockford areas, traveled to see the latest in lift truck technology. The electric, LP and diesel-powered trucks forklifts available included those featuring Linde’s patented hydrostatic drive and advanced 80-volt technologies. It was also a special opportunity to drive the new Linde 1411 Series 35,000 lb. capacity lift truck—one of the largest forklifts on the market.

 

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ProMat 2017 attracted more than 950 exhibitors and thousands of attendees from around the world to Chicago’s McCormick Place. Overall, the show was a huge success and major milestone for KION North America.

 

Finding the Right Forklift for Your Operation

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

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.

Height

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.

Tips for Properly Cleaning a Forklift

Forklifts make life in the warehouse easier in so many ways. In order for forklifts to keep doing their job, it’s important to keep these machines well-maintained, which includes keeping them clean. Proper maintenance and cleaning will also help prolong a forklift’s lifespan. Here are a few tips for properly cleaning a forklift.

Use a pressure washer

Soap and water just won’t cut it; a pressure washer is the only way to completely clean a forklift. Using a pressure washer is also safer than soap and water, as you can keep a safe distance from the machine. And in environments where forklifts come into contact with potentially hazardous chemicals, mixing these chemicals with soap could be dangerous.

Get rid of loose dirt and debris first

Before putting the pressure washer to use, get rid of any loose dirt, debris, and rust that can be removed with a broom or duster. Doing so will help get the forklift as clean as possible before you pressure wash the vehicle. Additionally, dirt, dust, and rust can hurt the performance of a forklift if left to build up over time.

Start at the top

When you begin cleaning, start at the top of the forklift. Since grime and dirt will flow downward, starting at the top and working your way towards the bottom of the forklift will prevent you from dirtying an already clean area. That way, you create a much more efficient cleaning process

Make sure it’s dry

While forklifts are durable, not every part and component is waterproof. Once you have finished cleaning a forklift, leave time for it to dry completely. Make sure that before its next use, every component is dry and there is no excess water hiding in hard to see or reach areas.

Wear protective equipment

Last but not least, practice safety first, even when simply cleaning your forklift. A pressure washer keeps distance between you and the forklift while cleaning, but that does not mean injuries cannot happen. At the very least, wear protective goggles, boots, and gloves to protect some of the most vulnerable areas.

Letting your forklift build up dirt and grime will not only harm its performance, but the performance of your warehouse operation as a whole. Save time, energy, and money by properly cleaning and maintaining one of your most essential warehouse assets.

Forklift Maintenance Checklist

Unsafe forklift operations are one of the biggest safety hazards in warehouses. Whether due to improper training or lack of maintenance, forklifts can cause damage, injury, or even death when used improperly. That’s why regular maintenance and operational checks of forklifts are extremely important. OSHA requires that forklifts be inspected daily. In order to create a safe warehouse, make sure you look for these issues when conducting a pre-operational inspection:

Firstly, perform visual checks

  • Tire condition and pressure
  • Visible spills or leaks, including underneath the forklift and near hoses
  • Obvious signs of damage, such as cracks or other visible defects
  • Condition of gauges
  • Safety decals and nameplates are visible and legible
  • Examine the forks for signs of damage and appropriate height and thickness
  • For electric forklifts, there are no exposed or fraying wires

Next, conduct physical checks

  • Brakes and steering controls are operating properly
  • Safety devices like seat belt and horn are functional
  • Other operations and controls are working

And lastly, check liquid levels

  • Fuel
  • Brake fluid
  • Hydraulic fluid
  • Engine oil coolant

In addition to pre-operational checks, forklifts should undergo further inspection and maintenance based on days, months, or hours of operation. The following are the best practices for conducting more comprehensive maintenance checks:

Conduct forklift maintenance or service in safe conditions

  • Area of service is clean and free of clutter
  • Forklift engine is off and battery disconnected
  • Emergency brakes are set and wheels are blocked

After making sure the area is clean, begin servicing the vehicle

  • Change engine oil based on manufacturer’s specifications
  • Replace air filters
  • Examine brakes and replace brake fluid
  • Examine the cooling system, checking radiator hoses and clamps
  • Replace tires if damaged
  • Inspect chains and other parts for rust, damage, or misalignment

Protect your warehouse and employees by following these simple steps for forklift maintenance. This checklist is just a starting point for conducting appropriate forklift maintenance inspections. Read the manufacturer’s manual, look at OSHA’s guidelines, and contact professionals when servicing your forklift in order to prevent damage and injuries. In doing so, your warehouse can enjoy a safe and productive year in 2017.

Caring for Your Forklift Battery

In order to get the best possible use out of a forklift, it is necessary to practice proper maintenance so that it lives a long, productive life. One of the keys to helping your forklift live a long life is to care for its battery. A well-maintained battery should last a number of years, meaning you should get good use out of the forklift for that long. Here are a few steps for caring for the battery to help keep your forklift running for years to come.

Charge properly

Correctly charging a forklift battery is one of the most important factors when it comes to ensuring its longevity. You do not charge the battery when it is convenient for you or the opportunity happens to present itself. Charging a forklift battery drains its life cycle, and charging when you feel like it can reduce a battery’s lifespan significantly. The battery should only be charged at certain times and to a certain extent. It is recommended that you only charge a forklift battery at the end of an 8-hour work day or once the charge goes below 30%. Do not allow the battery to totally die before charging, as it could take up to three days for the battery to reach full charge. If you follow correct charging practices, your forklift’s lifespan should reach 5 years. OSHA recommends that users find and designate a battery-charging area. The area should be well-ventilated and neither too hot nor too cold.

Consistently check fluid levels

In order to work properly, batteries need to have the right amount of water. Most experts recommend you should check fluid levels every five to ten uses. If fluid levels need to be topped off, fill until the water covers the plastic element protector. Be careful not to overfill, as this can cause damage during the next run. Only cover the element protector by about ¼ of an inch. If fluid is running low, only fill with water after the battery has been charged, not before.

Practice safe storing and handling

As in all aspects of the warehouse, safety is extremely important when it comes to caring for and handling a forklift battery. While batteries can handle extreme environments, using and storing the forklift in harsh temperatures, especially extreme heat, can diminish battery life. The battery needs to have plenty of air circulating around it to ensure it cools properly and does not overheat. Batteries are designed to be safe, but as battery acid can be very dangerous, it is important to practice safety and caution when working with or handling a forklift battery. Be sure to wear protective gear, and take the recommended safety precautions.

Even the most effective and recommended batteries require proper care and maintenance in order to function to the best of their abilities. By following these steps, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your forklift’s battery, helping make operations in your warehouse as productive and efficient as possible. Read our Forklift Maintenance Checklist for even more tips to improve your operation.

Best Safety Boots for Manufacturers

When you think about safety in the warehouse, protecting your feet may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But with all of the heavy lifting that goes on in warehouses, your feet can be injured very easily. Thankfully, there are different varieties of safety boots made to keep your feet from harm. The following information on different kinds of safety boots can help you decide which pair is the best for your manufacturing needs:

Steel-toed

Steel-toed boots are one of the most common types of safety footwear, especially in the warehouse. The toe area is capped with steel to prevent injury or harm to the toes. Steel is also generally recommended over other kinds of safety-toed shoe materials, like aluminum or plastic.

Metal instep

Footwear with metal insteps protects the foot from all outward injuries. Metal insteps are especially helpful for protecting against sharp objects like nails or glass, keeping them from penetrating the shoe and reaching the foot. This type of safety footwear is also especially helpful in large industrial warehouses.

Steel insole

Steel insoles can be inserted into the a boot to help prevent joint problems and strain. Steel insoles are more common for those already suffering from joint issues and for employees’ whose jobs put strain on their joints. Those who operate heavy machinery with pedals may find comfort from putting steel insoles in their boots.

Metatarsal

Shoes with metatarsal protection are also known as drop hazards because they protect the upper part of the foot, meaning they are especially helpful in preventing damage from falling equipment or objects. This type of footwear protects the toe area as well.  

Electric hazard

Electrical hazard boots have special soles designed to help reduce the potential of employees getting shocked from high voltage circuits and electricity. Employees that work around circuits, high voltage machines, and wiring should wear these protective boots. Electric hazards are extremely common and can lead to serious injury, even death. 

Following appropriate safety procedures is essential to the safety and productivity of a warehouse. Remember that safety procedures go beyond what your employer or supervisor mandates, and that you need to look out for yourself as well.