You’ve decided you want to buy a forklift. Great! You sit down at your computer and fire up your favorite search engine to begin your search. But wait! There are a few things you should know before you start looking. Here are some of the forklift basics you should know before you get started.
1) What is the maximum weight of the load that you will need to lift? Knowing the average load weight is good, but you really need to know the heaviest load weight so you can handle that load safely.
2) What are the dimensions of your loads? Since forklift capacities are usually based on a 24″ load center (standard pallets are 48″ long), loads longer than 48″ need to be taken into consideration to determine the proper size forklift.
3) How high do you need to lift to access your highest pallet position? Two, three or four high doesn’t tell you enough as you do not know how high that actually is. Break out the tape measure and get an accurate measurement.
4) Are there any low doorways or other overhead height restrictions the forklift needs to be able to drive under? Low clearances are often overlooked so be sure to check all areas where the forklift will be operating.
5) Will you use the forklift indoors or outdoors? If you will be using it outdoors, what kind of surface will it be driven on? Indoor cushion tires and outdoor pneumatic tires are not interchangeable. The chassis are different, with pneumatic tire forklifts being longer, taller and wider than indoor cushion tire models. Cushion tire forklifts do not run well outdoors on gravel or dirt lots, and pneumatic tire forklifts will require more space to operate in. There is also a difference in price.
6) Do you have a preference when it comes to fuel? Electric battery-powered, LPG propane, gasoline and diesel are your primary fuel choices. Some alternative fuel sources (hybrid or fuel cells) are emerging, but are not currently not very common.
7) Will your forklift require an attachment on the front end? Sideshifters, fork positioners, carton clamps, rotators, push/pulls, and paper roll clamps are just a few of the attachments available. Most of these will require at least one if not two hydraulic functions. Adding additional hydraulic capabilities after the fact will add significant expense.
Having answers to these questions will make your search for a forklift much easier and help you avoid potentially costly mistakes. If you need help along the way, your local forklift dealership should be able to help find the right forklift for you.