It is a common mistake that anyone who is lacking in experience in warehousing, logistics or any of the related industries, to say that you can use any type of forklift in any situation. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. When it comes to choosing the right forklift for your business, there are a number of key factors that need to be considered.
There are in fact a wide range of forklift trucks that are tailored to specific tasks and should be used over other options depending on the circumstances.
Firstly, what are you going to be using it for? Depending on your business there are specific attachments for machines that can make your business more efficient and safer.
The right fit for the right job
While the most obvious application of a forklift is to use it to move items that can’t be moved safely any other way, such as loaded pallets, boxes and crates.
The first area you need to make sure that is covered is whether the forklift you are going to use is able to safely lift the amount you need it to, as well as whether it can lift those weights to the heights needed safely because whilst a forklift may be able to lift 2000kg it is unlikely to be able to lift that amount of weight safely throughout the full height of the mast, without becoming unstable and potentially falling over.
You also need to decide whether you need any specialist attachments to move items safely such as bale and drum clamps which allow you to move products safely if they are awkwardly shaped for if a traditional set of forks will do.
Indoors or Outdoors?
This is a big question that needs to be answered because it can dictate so much of which forklifts are available, and whilst tyres can be easy enough to change if you want to start using an outdoor machine inside there are a whole host of other areas that are affected.
For example, if you are going to be using the machine inside are you able to manoeuvre through entryways? Or are there any width restrictions that need to be considered? Do you work with potentially explosive products so need the machine to prevent static build-up and sparks?
In comparison to these the type of tyre is a smaller issue but choosing the wrong type of tyre can significantly impact the safety of your operators, especially if they are working outside, where larger tyres will help to stabilise the machine on uneven ground.
What fuel type do you need?
Each type of forklift has strengths and weaknesses.
Electric forklifts are fuel-efficient, pollution-free to use and are ideal for use in a warehouse where space may be more limited and therefore not allowing for a gas or diesel machine. They are also more likely to be used in areas where cleanliness, hygiene and temperature are closely controlled, such as in food factories and cold storage facilities.
However, the major issue with going electric is that they do run out of charge and need recharging, which unless you have an alternating fleet or a spare battery for each machine then you will be unable to use the machine whilst it is charging, effectively bringing your business to a standstill. This can however be eradicated by using lithium-ion machines which can be opportunity fast-charged when you need to, rather than waiting for long charging cycles commonly found in lead-acid batteries.
This is where gas and diesel forklift trucks have some advantage in that you either fill up with diesel or change the gas bottle and continue to operate and whilst the storage of gas and diesel can be difficult depending on your space available.
Let the forklift truck do its job
You need to have a clear image in your mind as to what you need the machine to do.
Without having a clear understanding of your own needs, you are more likely to fall into the trap of putting limits on what you are able to do with the forklift and therefore not making the most of the machine or the huge array of benefits that it can provide your business.
What to do if you are not sure what you need
At Dawsongroup | material handling we have a wealth of experience in helping businesses choose and maintain forklift trucks and other material handling equipment across the UK. And because we know that no two workplaces are identical, we are able to come to your site and help you identify the right machine for your needs. and because of our experience in helping businesses keep moving, we may even suggest a machine that may be more suited than what you originally had in mind.
For more information contact a member of our expert team here