Lift Truck Forks
There’s nothing standard about a pair of lift truck forks. They are a key component to your lift truck and not having the right type puts your product and employees at risk. If your company frequently switches forks or purchased the lift truck secondhand, you may be at higher risk for having forks that aren’t compatible.
Ensure you have the right forks by answering 3 questions:
What type of lift truck are you operating?
Lift trucks are divided into classes based on factors such as fuel type and function. Forks must meet industry standards that make them interchangeable, regardless of the lift truck manufacturer; however, they are specific to the capacity of the lift truck. If your company has a mixed lift truck fleet, never assume forks can be traded.
Are you using an attachment?
Lift truck attachments also specify the use of specific forks. Research your operator manuals to know which forks are required.
What are you picking up?
Not everything is transported by pallets. You must know the basics of what you are picking up such as weight, dimensions and load center. “Having your lift truck rated for capacity isn’t enough. Your forks must also be thick enough to safely carry the product, ” states Travis Lawrence, Parts Manager. “If you’re picking up mixed loads, determine the heaviest product. For forks the same width, increasing the thickness from 1-1/2” to 2” doubles the fork capacity, making them more versatile.”
Having forks the same length as your load is also a misconception. For stability the forks must reach under only 75% of the load. Casey Oliver, Customer Service Specialist, points out, “It is also important forks aren’t too long. Forks that stick out beyond the transported product are a driving hazard as operators hit racking, pedestrians and other obstacles.” Product damage also occurs when long forks bump items already sitting on the rack. If the fork tips have a strong impact, it can push product off. “If a co-worker is on the other side of the racking, they could be severely injured by falling product, ” warns Casey.
Forks are not “one size fits all”. A better understanding of specifics about your lift truck and loads will uncover the best fork options for your application.
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