Forklift trucks are wheeled and powered industrial trucks that have a pair of adjustable forks that are mounted on a mast. The trucks lift and move various types of materials by inserting the steel forks under a load, lifting the load and then transporting it and loading it somewhere else. The mast is powered hydraulically or through an electric motor and it is raised or lowered to move the load along a vertical axis. Extra shoes can be fitted on the forks to increase the support. Forklifts are generally used to move light to medium heavy loads and are commonly used in environments such as: machine shops, assembly units, transport and freight delivery, warehouses, airports, construction and mining areas, etc. Once the load is lofted, it gets locked by means of non-return valves. Some types of forklift trucks have three wheels while others have four.
Forklift trucks can be powered by batteries (electric) or by an internal combustion engine powered by propane, gasoline, or diesel fuel. They are classified by the amount of load they can lift, their body and arm width, the total height to which the load can be lifted, their horsepower, their center of gravity and their maximum speed.
The wheels of a forklift truck are made of either solid rubber or pneumatic tires. The steering mechanism allows the forklift truck to be maneuvered in areas with small clearance.
There are various types of forklift trucks and it’s important that you use the right one for your job.
- Four wheel forklift trucks come with either cushioned or pneumatic tires and can be used indoors and outdoors.
- Three wheel forklift trucks are generally used indoors on smooth surfaces. These types of trucks are ideal to use in tight spaces because of a smaller turning radius than four wheel models.
- Stackers are hand pushed trucks that raise loads just slightly off of the ground and are generally used to move loads over short distances.
- Turrets are designed for use in narrow aisles. These forklift trucks enable the driver to pick up loads from both sides of the truck without having to turn the base of the truck.
When using a forklift truck you need to take into consideration how much weight you want to move and how much room you have to operate it in. Care must be taken while operating a forklift. Many of the accidents that occur are usually due to an operator's recklessness and rarely due to equipment failure. Only trained, certified and qualified operators should drive a forklift truck.