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What type of Forklift do I need?

So, you need a forklift and you have no idea what kind of forklift you need! You are not alone!

Whether looking to purchase or rent, many of our customers come to us with no prior knowledge about lifting equipment. Frontier Forklifts makes it a priority to inform and guide our customers in the proper forklift selection. This article serves as an introduction to basic forklift terminology and important details our customers need to understand about what type of forklift will work best (& safest) for them.
4 Important Questions to ask yourself before deciding what type of forklift you need…
QUESTION #1: “How much weight do I need my forklift to lift?”

This question refers to a forklift’s CAPACITY!
The capacity of a forklift is the amount of weight it is able to lift according to the manufacturer. Forklift capacity is found on the unit’s data tag along with other important information. Make sure you have a good idea about the size & weight of the loads you intend to lift. It is important to know what capacity of forklift you need not only to make sure you get the job done, but that you get it done safely. Using a forklift with too small of a capacity can damage goods AND can be potentially deadly to operators and those around them.

QUESTION #2: “What am I picking up? Is my load bulky or irregularly shaped?”
This question refers to a forklift’s LOAD CENTER!
Load weight, weight distribution, size, shape, and position of your load are key factors affecting the stability of the forklift. In other words, the size & shape of your load can affect your forklift’s capacity. Most forklifts are designed to carry a load that has a center of gravity approximately 24” away from the face of the forks. In other words, the horizontal distance from the center of the load to the vertical part of the forks is 24”. (See Diagram below) Of course, in the real world, most loads are not perfectly shaped cubes having their center of gravity exactly in the middle of the cube at 24” from the face of the forks. To the extent that your load differs from this perfect theoretical load you may need a larger capacity forklift than you first thought. In addition, if you are going to be handling irregularly-shaped or bulky loads, you may also need to purchase special forklift attachments for your truck which can further affect your capacity.
Know Your Load Pic 2

QUESTION #3: “How high do I need to lift my load?”
This question refers to a forklift’s LIFTING HEIGHT!
Along with capacity, you also need to know how high you want to lift your material and if you have any height restrictions. Lift height can be key if you are working on projects that reach above the typical 188″-189″ of a triple stage upright mast. Some forklifts have a fourth mast (“Quad” mast), allowing them to lift to heights of 240″ or more. A forklift’s collapsed height is measured from the tallest part of the unit to the floor when the forks are completely lowered. This measurement is important to know especially if you have low doors or ceilings in the building you are working in, or in the trucks you are loading or unloading.

QUESTION #4: “Where will I be using my forklift?”
This question refers to a forklift’s FUEL TYPE & TIRES!
You should know where your forklift is going to be used. Will you be driving it primarily inside or outside? Usually, inside applications utilize Electric or LPG (propane) forklifts. These forklifts don’t emit fumes and are usually much quieter – making for a more pleasant and safer work environment. Diesel-powered forklifts are ideal for outdoor applications because the exhaust fumes escape easily to the atmosphere and do not cause environmental issues which would occur indoors. The higher torque of a Diesel forklift compared with an Electric or LPG truck makes them a more powerful work truck and more efficient with heavier loads.

Will you be driving mostly on smooth, indoor, hard surfaces or on rough, uneven terrain? Warehouse Tires (also known as Cushion Tires) are perfectly suited for indoor, smooth, concrete surfaces. These tires will provide a lower ground clearance, smaller turning radius, and lower tire-to-ground friction ratio. On the other hand, Pneumatic Tires can handle a larger variety of ground surfaces. Pneumatic Tires can be used on indoor, smooth surfaces, but also perform well on uneven, rough terrain. Pneumatic tires come in air or solid form. Solid Pneumatics are puncture resistant. Pneumatic Tires provide for a higher ground clearance and larger turning radius and are perfectly suited for large capacity lift trucks.

Frontier Forklifts takes pride in not only providing our customers with all of their material handling equipment, but we also place great value in providing information, education, and guidance related to working with & around forklifts. Please feel free to contact us AT ANY TIME WITH ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE ABOUT YOUR FORKLIFT EQUIPMENT.

We also offer O.S.H.A. Forklift Operator Safety Training for those who are operating your forklifts. O.S.H.A. requires that anyone operating a forklift must be trained.
CLICK HERE for more information about our Forklift Operator Training Course.
CLICK HERE to Register for our Forklift Operator Training Course.

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