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Six Facts about Forklifts

By Tom Reddon

A forklift is an extremely important piece of loader equipment that is used in warehouses, factories and shipping companies. These businesses function more effectively by using forklifts. These small trucks lift huge loads and easily move them from one point to the next. They save businesses money, because they can do the job of twenty men.

The following are interesting facts concerning forklifts:

1.    The forklift as we know it today was developed during the 1960s, but earlier development – from the middle of the nineteenth century to the early parts of the twentieth century – saw vast changes that led to the modern forklift.  Battery powered lift trucks were introduced in 1906; and during the First World War, lift trucks that were used for the handling of war materials were developed.

Due to labor shortages caused by the war, the use of powered lift trucks increased greatly. Forklift technology continued to evolve during the 1920s and 1930s and during the Second World War, forklifts were used with great success to support the war effort.

2.    Today, forklift trucks can be powered by electricity, diesel, petrol, batteries and propane. Battery powered forklifts are popular because they do not produce harmful gases or vapors, and they cost far less to maintain. Diesel-, petrol-, and propane-powered lift trucks are usually faster than electric trucks, but they are more difficult and more costly to maintain, and their fuel is expensive. Lift trucks are usually used for working inside warehouses or factories, but there are forklifts that are designed for outdoor use as well. They are called all-terrain forklifts and they mainly run on diesel or gas.

3.    Various types of forklifts include:

–    Three-wheel counterbalance lift trucks
–    Counterbalance lift trucks
–    Teletrucks
–    Sideloaders
–    Powered pallet lift trucks
–    Pump trucks, or hand pallet lift trucks
–    Reach trucks

4.    Attachments can be used with forklifts to make the work easier and add additional functions. The following are the most commonly used attachments:

–    Sideshifter
–    Dimensioning devices
–    Fork positioner
–    Rotator
–    Pole attachments
–    Roll clamps and barrel clamps
–    Carton clamps and multipurpose clamps
–    Drum handler attachments
–    Slip sheet attachments
–    Scales
–    Man baskets
–    Telescopic forks

5.     On average, forklifts are the source of only 1% of all accidents that occur in factories or warehouses, but the injuries that are caused in these accidents constitute 10% of all the physical injuries that take place. Regulating an industrial lift truck’s speed plays an important part in keeping the workplace safe. The maximum allowable speed of a forklift truck is 8 mph, but in areas where pedestrians move about, the forklift should not move faster than 3 mph.

6.    The load-carrying capacity of each forklift can be found on a name plate or load capacity data plate that is in clear view of the operator. This capacity is the maximum allowable load that the lift truck can handle. The load-carrying capabilities of forklifts differ. The most commonly used forklifts can carry loads of one to five tons. Larger forklifts have a load capacity of up to 50 tons.