25 Aug 2020
Delta Materials Handling

Six Frequently Asked Questions About Forklifts

The earliest model of the what we recognize as the modern-day forklift is the Tructractor, first produced by the Clark Company in 1917. This vehicle evolved to meet contemporary demands; some such features include power by gas, hydraulics, a vertical lifting mast, and improved vertical and horizontal lifting with the introduction of the seated, counterbalance forklift. The safety features of forklifts have also been significantly updated and now include backrests for the lift, cages for the driver, and power by electricity. Modern forklifts are constantly receiving new updates, both to provide better safety and to better accommodate the changing needs of factory operations. Forklifts remain a popular vehicle for modern manufacturing factories and even reached a market size which exceeded $50 billion in 2019

1. How do I know which forklift I need?
There are a variety of forklift types, each with unique purposes suited to allow safe and productive use in many different environments, so whatever your needs are, there is a forklift for you. There are a number of considerations you must take into account when determining which forklift you need, including lift height, capacity, load type, width, terrain and usage. The Sales Representatives at Delta Materials Handling are all qualified to perform a site survey of your facility to identify the right forklift for your business needs.  

2. How do I know what capacity forklift I need?
Each forklift has a stated maximum capacity of load that the machine can handle, however, this does not mean that it can safely handle every load of its maximum capacity. Depending on the dimensions of the load, the load center and height to which the load will be raised, the weight the forklift can handle will actually decrease in order to compensate for any irregularities. So, as a general rule, you should always purchase forklift that can handle a load heavier than your maximum load weight. Ultimately, your forklift supplier is the best source of information regarding what forklift capacity you will need for your loads. By providing the dimensions and weight of your average and maximum loads, as well as the average and maximum height you will need to lift these loads, your supplier will be able to guide you toward a forklift to fit your needs. 

3. What is the average life of a forklift?
In general, forklifts have an average life of approximately 10,000 to 12,000 hours, or roughly 10-20 years. By performing proper forklift maintenance and timely repairs, you can prevent more costly replacements down the road and can expand the lifespan of your vehicle. However, external factors such as extreme temperatures, overuse and failure to perform maintenance can shorten the lifespan. Once repairs and replacements become more costly than the value of the vehicle, it may be time to replace your vehicle. Be sure to discuss the approximate life of your forklift with your supplier before purchase. 

4. Should I get a diesel, propane or electric forklift?
While each forklift has its own unique benefits, it is important to consider various factors, including the environment in you will be using the forklift and your top priorities for the machine before deciding.
Electric forklifts are better equipped for indoor use because they are quieter and produce no harmful emissions which could be dangerous in an enclosed workspace. Electric forklifts have relatively low maintenance and recharge costs. They also tend to be smaller and have a much longer lifespan than alternatives. Currently, electric forklifts make up more than 60% of the North American market.
Diesel forklifts release emissions and so are mostly restricted to outdoor use. However, diesel forklifts offer more power, lift speed and acceleration than its electric competitor and so, are better suited for heavy lifting operations. These forklifts have a lower upfront cost than electric forklifts and a longer lifespan than propane forklifts.

Propane forklifts are the cheapest option to purchase new. These forklifts are ideal for remote operations, as it is quick and easy to change the propane tank when necessary while still providing all-day power and speed. With more torque than its electric alternatives and much fewer harmful emissions than diesel, propane forklifts are well suited for both indoor and outdoor use.

5. When should forklift tires be replaced?
Forklift tires should be checked regularly for correct tire pressure and satisfactory condition as per the manufacturer’s specifications. Tires with excessive wear, chunking, tearing, cracking or flat spots should be replaced immediately. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, there should be at least one inch between the lettering and the top of the tire. Once the tires have been worn down past one inch, it is time for replacement. Some tires even feature a safety or wear line which indicate when the tire has been worn down enough and that it is time for a replacement. Tires help to absorb the shock while traveling over uneven and rough surfaces, so it is necessary to replace them as needed or else risk the forklift absorbing a majority of the shock and damaging the vehicle.

6. How often should you grease a forklift?
Each forklift should follow a manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule, which often include weekly greasing of key part to reduce excessive wear and tear. It is important to grease those areas which are exposed to extreme heat and friction, such a bushings, bearings, and chains.



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