Many situations in a work site call for lifting heavy objects or loads or getting them down from shelves, and sometimes, human labor is sufficient for this. In other cases, though, a load is far too heavy or large for one or even several people to handle, so a work vehicle known as a forklift will handle it. Equipment specialists can operate or even repair forklifts, and forklifts are possible if a site owner doesn’t want to actually buy them. Buying a forklift is possible through wholesale channels, and equipment specialists may offer these machines for a fair price to wholesale customers such as warehouse owners. Forklift repair services may also be called upon if such a device breaks down, and equipment specialists may replace any damaged parts in the forklift right away. Doing so may be beyond the expertise of the operator. What is there to know about these devices and equipment specialists who can sell or repair them?
The Work of a Forklift
Everyday Americans don’t have much cause to operate a forklift, but most people are at least familiar with what they look like. A forklift is a short but tough four-wheeled vehicle that has a single operator, and of course, it will also have a motor and hydraulics that operate the device’s distinctive tines to lift and lower loads, hence the name. A forklift may drive slowly, but it may handle heavy loads that are far beyond the capacity of a team of workers. A forklift operator will position the vehicle so that its tines are below the load, and then the lift may use its power to raise that load enough to clear it off the floor. The load may then be transported with ease and set back down somewhere. And some forklifts are designed with tall support pylons, allowing the forklift to reach a considerable height for putting up items or taking them back down.
Many technical details about forklifts and their capabilities are available, too. What’s the heaviest load that a forklift can handle? This varies by model, but in general, forklifts may handle several tons of cargo at once without tipping over or straining themselves. Most forklifts may handle one to five tons, but some large, specialized ones may be able to handle even heavier loads than that. The world record, set in 1989, is for an incredible 90 tons of cargo lifted with a forklift, and that record has yet to be beaten. By contrast, standard heavy-duty forklifts can handle 50 tons or so.
Forklifts are not very fast, nor do they need to be. They have a top speed of eight miles per hour, but in the context of a warehouse, even that speed may be excessive according to safety standards. Since forklifts often share the same floor space as workers on foot, forklift operators tend to drive only three miles per hour to help prevent injuries. Driving this slowly gives other workers ample time to see the forklift and get out of the way. But even if these vehicles are slow and ponderous, they are still powerful, and they on occasion are responsible for injuries in warehouses. Workers need specialized training and certification before they are allowed to operate a forklift, and there may be penalties for a worker using one without permission. A forklift license may be renewed once every three years or so, along with a safety and handling refresher course.
These slow but powerful vehicles may be powered with diesel fuel, regular gasoline, propane, or even batteries, and the power source used may reflect the power of the vehicle and its size. No matter how large, though, a forklift may become damaged at work, such as if an operator accidentally tries to lift too much weight or if the forklift is hit by something and is knocked over. Equipment specialists may be called in to look over a damaged or malfunctioning forklift and repair it or replace some inner components as needed, and get it back into shape. Warehouses often make use of forklifts, so repair specialists may often get called to a warehouse where someone knocked over a forklift with another one by accident.