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Forklift Capacities: How To Choose The Right Truck For The Job

With so many truck options out there, choosing the correct truck for the application can seem like a daunting task.  To enhance productivity, as well as promoting safety, selecting the appropriate truck for your operation can affect multiple layers of your supply chain.  Below we discuss tips to consider in choosing the right truck for the job.

Understanding Lift Capacity

When considering a forklift for your application, you must first look at lift capacity.  Trucks can range anywhere from 3,000 to 70,000 lbs. and offer a multitude of designs to aide in efficiency.  Each forklift has its own data plate where you can find the rated capacity.  Depending on the way the load is carried, and the weight is distributed, will change the amount of weight the forklift can safely carry. 

Knowing a trucks lift capacity does not necessarily equate to matching product in pounds. For instance, if a forklift’s data plate specifies a lift capacity of 5,000 lbs. that does not necessarily mean the truck can carry any load of 5,000 lbs. Understanding the weight, size, and position of the load will better determine the type of truck needed. 

Some questions to consider when deciding on specific truck capacity needs:

  • Where will my forklift be used (indoors or outdoors)?
  • How heavy is my typical load?
  • What is the shape of my typical load?
  • What aisle clearance do I have in the warehouse?
  • How high do my loads need to be lifted?
  • How often will my forklift be used?

Factors that affect Lift Capacity

Center of Gravity

Most counterbalanced trucks have what is called a stability triangle.  The stability triangle is a three- point suspension system that incorporates two front wheels and the center of the steer axle that supports the truck.  When the truck is at rest, the center of gravity is within the stability triangle, however, when the truck is in motion (braking, accelerating and making turns) the center of gravity shifts. It is also important to understand that an unloaded truck can tip with the counterbalance weight as well as a truck transporting a load.  According to OSHA, “the load center is the distance from the face of the forks to the load’s center of gravityMany forklifts are rated using a 24-inch load center, which means that the load’s center of gravity must be 24 inches or less from the face of the forks.”  Additional issues that can affect the center of gravity is damaged product or loads un-securely mounted, loads that are off-center, and loads that are exceeding capacity. OSHA:  Load Handling

Attachments

Warehouse operations will often add forklift attachments to aid the needs of their operation.  However, before adding any attachment, operators must consider the affect adding an attachment will have on the trucks center of gravity.  The additional weight is not the only concern, as considering the horizontal and vertical center of gravities can also affect the overall lifting.  To ensure trucks are transporting loads safely, locating the forklift attachment’s data plate will assist in determining proper lift capacity.

Tires

Choosing a forklift, based on lift capacities, involves many more factors than what the data plate states.  Each part of the truck offers their own lift capacities and can directly affect the load you intend to carry.  For example, the type of tires on the truck will help determine lift abilities.  If the truck has small or larger tires, those details will come into play on calculating load size and may require a recalculation of center of gravity. 

There are plenty of other areas to consider and address when determining the appropriate truck options for your supply chain. Calculating lift capacities and considering additional attachments, can negatively affect center of gravity, and can be overwhelming for the operator to navigate.  That’s why our dealer partners are ready to help you find the right truck for the job. Contact any of our dealer partners today at a location near you!  KION NA Dealer Network

Operating A Forklift In Unpredictable Weather – Rainy Conditions

We have entered that time of the year where many are experiencing the unpredictability of mother nature.  Whether it be extreme spikes in temperature or the sudden torrential downpour, the weather can often catch us off guard.  When operating machinery, like a forklift, it is imperative to be alert on any given day, but especially when the weather takes a turn.  Below we highlight several tips and considerations for operating a forklift in the rain.

Eliminate Distractions

Keeping focused on your equipment and your surroundings should always be a priority while operating a forklift.  That means limiting the amount of outside distractions is crucial to maneuver the truck effectively and safely.  Make sure you are wearing proper attire while working in outside conditions so that you are protected inside your workspace.  For instance, not keeping your head covered can cause a decrease in visibility and focus, creating a potential hazard. Also, strong winds can be associated with heavy rains, so wearing water and windproof jackets and pants will also aide in protection and less distractions. 

To decrease the likelihood of taking your eyes off the road, it is a good idea to leave cell phones and audio devices off the truck.  Eliminating those appliances will help keep you focused on the job at hand.  In addition, keeping food and drinks out of the workspace will prevent the urge to take your hands away from the control deck, thus keeping you in control of your forklift.

Watch your Speed

Just as we slow our speed in our car during rainy weather, the same applies for maneuvering a forklift.  Even with the latest improved features on Linde trucks, of automatic acceleration and deceleration that deliver smoother transitions with speed, wet weather can still greatly affect the driving experience.  Operating the forklift cautiously, during compromised weather, will ultimately make you, the operator, more effective and efficient over the course of the day as well as decreasing the probability of an accident.

Be Alert to Driving on Multiple Surfaces

If you are operating between multiple terrains (indoor and outdoor applications) it is extremely important to be aware of the surfaces you are driving on.  When transporting loads back and forth from the yard to the warehouse, the inclination may be to increase speed since the surface you are driving on is now dry.  However, the wheels on the forklift will still be very wet and will make abrupt stops difficult.  Maintaining consistent, slower speeds, while transitioning from outdoors to indoors, will create a more secure logistical operation.

With the Linde internal combustion trucks, you can automatically rely on the ability of being prepared to deliver solid production in any weather condition. But with the Linde outdoor electric trucks, you’re also assured a precise and agile operating experience with Linde’s robust drive technology, backed by attentive traction control and precise navigation.

How to Become a Forklift Operator

Forklift operators typically work within warehouses or construction sites. They are vital to business operations since they are responsible for moving heavy materials to where they are needed. Operators are responsible for their safety as well as the safety of those around while working. Operating heavy machinery is the bulk of the job, however, there is more to getting the job than hopping on the forklift and turning the key.

Valued Experience

Prior experience working with heavy machinery brings great value to the table, and knowledge on warehouse distribution operations will prove useful as well. The companies leading the industry in forklift technology are important to note when applying. Among top competitors are; Linde and Baoli.

Active listening and effective communication are vital to ensure safe operations for you and those around you. Regardless of where you fall on the prior-experience spectrum, becoming a forklift operator ultimately reduces to passing the certification process.

Certification Process

The OSHA certification process typically takes 2-5 days to complete depending on if you complete it online or in person. CertifyMe.net offers OSHA forklift certification card training for only $59.95. The process is split up into two sections: educational and practical. The focus for the education section will be operation and safety, while the practical portion examines your actual handling of the machinery. This practical portion is typically executed by the proposed employer. With this short time frame and affordable price, you’ll be working the lift in no time!

What to Expect

Aside from actually operating the forklift, there are various benefits to becoming a forklift operator. Hourly pay ranges an average of $15 to $20 an hour. This job is not as isolating as people think, because forklift operators work regularly within teams. Another perk is that these jobs typically operate between regular business hours, allowing you to have a set schedule and a stable career!