- Category: News
- Importance of Forklift Maintenance
- Forklift Maintenance Requirements
- Forklift Maintenance Tips and Best Practices
- Benefits of Professional Forklift Maintenance Services
Like all vehicles and equipment, forklifts need to be diligently cared for to ensure they operate at maximum capacity. Machinery that undergoes heavy daily use has unique maintenance needs, particularly when it comes to workplace safety. Sticking to a rigorous forklift maintenance plan protects your assets, your employees and your bottom line.
This guide to forklift maintenance tips will highlight the most important benefits of forklift maintenance and the best practices for extending your forklift service life. Finally, we'll also explain why it's essential to stay OSHA-compliant by ensuring you hire a professional technician to perform all of your planned maintenance requirements.
Importance of Forklift Maintenance
All equipment requires routine maintenance to remain in peak performance. Properly functioning material-handling equipment allows you to achieve production milestones, keep efficiency levels high and ensure a safety culture. With the amount of use forklifts undergo, a proactive and planned maintenance strategy is crucial for minimizing expensive and time-consuming emergency repairs.
Like any other industrial equipment, lift trucks have parts that are susceptible to wear and tear. Keeping up with servicing schedules prevents these parts from wearing prematurely and impacting your operation. The financial, safety and time-saving benefits of forklift maintenance make it well worth the investment.
Below are five reasons to maintain your forklifts:
1. Plan for Downtime
The best form of forklift maintenance is the planned kind. Getting ahead of parts repairs and replacements ensures you can plan for downtime due to scheduled maintenance.
Completing planned maintenance for your forklift occurs on a pre-set schedule based on the manufacturer's service intervals. Adhering to these intervals allows you to schedule a servicing appointment during the most convenient time for your operation, like after hours or over a weekend. Otherwise, it allows you to secure a replacement lift truck in the meantime.
Either way, planned forklift maintenance is a way to ensure equipment servicing needs incur the least amount of impact and interference with your business operations.
2. Extend Service Life
Because forklifts are a business asset, they need to earn you more money than they cost you for as long as possible. The service life of a forklift is directly dependent on the quality and frequency of the servicing it's undergone for its usage amount.
Sticking to forklift maintenance requirements ensures a long economic life and retains its value longer. That's beneficial for business valuation purposes and resale value. When it's time to upgrade your forklift needs, a well-maintained lift truck will sell or trade for a higher amount, saving you on your next investment.
3. Avoid Sudden Breakdowns
If your forklift is exhibiting signs of excessive wear or you're finding it's incurring a significant amount of downtime, it could be an indicator of an inadequate maintenance schedule. While it's impossible to eliminate all breakdowns, you can drastically minimize emergency interruption by adhering to forklift truck maintenance requirements.
Ultimately, unplanned maintenance is much costlier than planned maintenance. It costs more to get a technician to service a forklift at the last minute and causes a ripple effect of unplanned expenses. In many cases, a sudden breakdown requires replacing parts or entire systems, and the interruption in business increases labor costs.
4. Prevent Accidents
To put it simply, poorly maintained equipment isn't safe and can either directly cause accidents or increase the risk of workplace incidents. Practicing forklift maintenance helps you identify safety risks before they materialize.
The correlation between forklift maintenance and safety is the reason why there are OSHA regulations for forklift maintenance. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 614 workers lost their lives due to forklift incidents between 2011 and 2017. Therefore, there's a legal and ethical obligation for companies to maintain their lift trucks responsibly.
By staying on top of maintenance requirements, you can ensure your forklift is as safe as possible for daily use.
5. Improve Productivity
There are various metrics to determine business success, and uptime is one of the most critical measurements. High levels of uptime allow warehouses to process orders quickly and boost efficiency through continuous improvement. A well-maintained fleet of vehicles helps meet uptime goals and performs more efficiently than equipment that's wearing out.
Sticking to a scheduled maintenance plan protects your productivity. In many cases, companies can partner with maintenance teams that provide in-the-field services. Having technicians come to your site to perform maintenance and repairs is the best way to stay productive while servicing occurs.
Forklift Maintenance Requirements
Essentially, proper forklift maintenance requires a plan. Planned maintenance should also fit the particular forklift based on its usage, size, power type and other factors. While any given business has different maintenance needs, all companies should adhere to specific forklift maintenance requirements. As a result, the forklift will operate at its peak performance and prevent workplace incidents.
Whether it's planned maintenance for electric forklifts or diesel forklifts, here are the top five requirements for all forklift maintenance:
1. Allow Only Qualified Personnel to Perform Maintenance
When it comes to how to maintain a forklift properly, it's not enough to tick off a few servicing needs on a routine basis. Hiring qualified personnel who understand the needs of each forklift is essential, as servicing and maintaining lift trucks is a specialized skill that takes training, knowledge and experience to conduct correctly. Both forklift operators and warehouse management should work together with technicians to implement a robust maintenance plan.
The right technicians can advise operators and management on best practices for inspections and reporting issues. As a result, they'll know exactly when to alert trained personnel to perform repairs and replacements. Allowing only technicians to perform these tasks ensures you maintain due diligence and can protect your business from liability issues in the event of a workplace incident.
2. Adhere to the Recommended Forklift Maintenance Schedule
How often do forklifts need to be checked for maintenance? The answer depends on the recommended forklift maintenance schedule from the manufacturer. Each manufacturer prescribes a maintenance schedule that involves servicing intervals 一 maintenance and repair tasks that a technician must perform at a set time. This timeframe is based on the number of operating hours.
These servicing intervals are what the manufacturer determines to be the standard level and frequency of maintenance needed to ensure your machine performs throughout its expected service life. By completing these service items on time, you'll avoid costly repairs and replacements down the road.
3. Follow Safety Rules
Another critical forklift maintenance requirement is taking the necessary safety precautions during routine inspections. Because forklifts are workplace equipment, all forklift operating activity is subject to OSHA safety practices and other state or local safety regulations.
When conducting inspections or preparing a forklift for maintenance, follow these crucial safety tips:
- Wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Remove loads before the inspection.
- Lock out the equipment before doing any work.
- Disconnect the batteries.
- Shut off the fuel or power source.
- Block the forklift to prevent it from moving.
- Handle products with care when topping off fluids.
It's essential to conduct forklift inspections in designated areas away from warehouse traffic.
4. Keep a Clean Work Area
Keeping a clean work area is essential to adhering to forklift safety requirements during maintenance and inspections.
Here are some tips for ensuring a safe work area during forklift maintenance and inspections:
- Ensure the area is well lit.
- Remove any nearby obstructions or debris.
- Provide enough space to perform work safely.
- Clean up spilled fluids immediately when topping off.
- Put away any tools or products after use.
- Properly dispose of fluid containers or other trash.
When developing your forklift inspection and maintenance checklist, be sure to add the above items to ensure you always keep a clean work area.
5. Use OSHA Forklift Planned Maintenance Checklists
All workplaces with forklifts are subject to OSHA forklift planned maintenance requirements. OSHA requires the employer to be responsible for training forklift operators on the ongoing maintenance and inspection items they're required to perform. To assist in the training and job duties, employers can use OSHA's daily inspection checklists.
There are different planned maintenance checklists depending on the type of forklift you operate. OSHA has two main types of checklists — an internal combustion engine or diesel forklift maintenance checklist and an electric forklift planned maintenance checklist. These checklists help you identify key issues that require immediate maintenance to ensure workplace safety.
Forklift Maintenance Tips and Best Practices
Remember that forklift maintenance is particular to the type of lift truck in question. Whether you've got an electric or internal combustion engine forklift determines the type of forklift maintenance best practices you need to follow. While it's essential to understand the unique servicing needs of your forklifts, businesses can benefit from several general maintenance tips.
Follow these forklift truck maintenance tips and best practices for greater uptime and reduced repair costs:
1. Develop a Maintenance Plan
Forklift planned maintenance is essential to ensuring that you're adhering to your forklift's servicing needs on an ongoing basis. The best way to stick to your maintenance plan is to use a forklift maintenance checklist that covers every repair and servicing item.
Start by dividing your forklift planned maintenance checklist into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual maintenance needs. Below are some examples of OSHA forklift planned maintenance items to do regularly.
- Change the oil as needed.
- Clean or change air filters.
- Inspect the lift and tilt cylinder.
- Clean the radiator.
- Change the fuel and hydraulic filters.
- Inspect the hydraulic oil pump.
Annual and semi-annual:
- Replace the brake fluid.
- Replace the wheel bearing grease.
- Replace the engine coolant.
Consult OSHA's section on powered industrial trucks for a comprehensive list of maintenance activities and safety, training and operation standards.
2. Perform Daily Inspections
Conducting daily inspections is a key forklift maintenance best practice all teams should follow. These daily inspections are an OSHA requirement and an important way to catch safety and repair issues as they arise. Performing daily checks can save your business significant time and money. With so many premade forklift planned maintenance checklists available online, implementing your own daily inspection process is easy and cost-effective.
Here are some items to include in your daily inspection process:
- Take note of any leaks, such as hydraulic fluid, oil or coolant.
- Check tire pressure and note tire condition.
- Examine the forks.
- Notice any new safety warnings.
- Test the brakes.
- Ensure the seatbelt functions properly.
Be sure to follow a comprehensive daily inspection checklist. Always record your daily activity, making notes about any issues and planning for how to resolve them.
3. Replace and Service Tires Regularly
Having properly functioning tires is an essential safety precaution to take. With pneumatic tires, proper air pressure also helps improve fuel efficiency and productivity. Because low tire pressure doesn't provide enough traction, operators can encounter increased skidding and reduced stability, leading to accidents.
When servicing forklift tires, make sure not to over-inflate them to prevent blowouts and subsequent downtime. Always keep a tire gauge on hand for your daily inspections should you notice issues with your forklift tires.
As part of your scheduled maintenance, be sure to replace tires on time to maximize performance. If you notice your forklift tires tend to wear out ahead of their expected service life, it could be due to incorrect operational practices. Emphasize operator best practices to maximize the service life of the forklift and its tires.
4. Keep Forklifts Clean
Having a weekly cleaning schedule can help ensure your forklifts are kept in great condition and even contribute to a longer service life. According to OSHA, forklift cleaning is also a safety issue. Therefore, you must routinely clean them to prevent excess buildup of grease and grime. This debris can bind up the wheels and other components and cause premature wear on the mast and electrical system.
OSHA also suggests using safe, non-combustible cleaning products. If you need to use a solvent to remove stubborn grease, choose products with a high flash point of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Address Mechanical Issues Right Away
The point of daily inspections is to identify new issues and make a plan to resolve them. During daily inspections and throughout the day, operators are in a position to identify new issues. Whether it's a new rattling sound, a sticking brake or faulty signals, operators must pay attention to these details, as they can indicate a future problem.
It's usually the case that these small issues eventually turn into big ones — and the bigger the issue, the costlier the repair. Fortunately, you can minimize these larger situations by noticing small issues and acting on them immediately.
6. Have a Battery Charging Schedule
Part of maintaining electric forklifts is paying attention to battery health. All vehicle batteries have a certain lifespan based on the number of charge cycles they go through. Keeping track of battery health can help you anticipate when a battery might eventually fail.
By keeping a battery charging schedule, you'll have a good idea of your forklift's battery health and can help extend its lifespan. While each battery's best practices can differ, a general guideline is to charge your batteries on a daily schedule. One of the most critical forklift battery maintenance tips is to always recharge after the battery has been discharged over 30%. Run it again after the battery's charge is at full capacity.
It's also an OSHA-recommended best practice to designate a battery-charging area in your warehouse.
7. Invest in Operator Training
How someone operates a forklift can contribute to its performance. This equipment has operational guidelines that ensure it works for its intended use and capacity. It's critical for operators to learn proper operation techniques and undergo continuous training and receive feedback.
Some operating tips that can help extend forklift service life include:
- Use extreme caution while on ramps.
- Only raise or lower forks while stopped.
- Don't operate at unsafe speeds.
- Don't overload the equipment.
Improperly operating forklifts can also result in accidents and damage to the forklift. Minimize excessive and premature wear on parts by safely operating your equipment.
8. Keep Thorough Maintenance Records
Keeping thorough maintenance records ensures that every forklift receives service as needed. These records also allow you to identify patterns of wear to mitigate over time, or even indicate manufacturing defects.
With maintenance records, you can stay organized and plan for upcoming servicing and stay compliant. There are OSHA requirements for forklift records for maintenance that all businesses need to follow. Should OSHA request them, you need to be able to produce your service records, including daily inspection checklists and other service histories. All documents should include the date of servicing and the technician who performed the repairs, among other pertinent details.
Benefits of Professional Forklift Maintenance Services
Since forklift maintenance needs to happen on an ongoing basis, it's important to have a technician to rely on for your routine needs. Many modern forklifts are computer-based, meaning you need someone who can do more than just replace bolts and bearings.
Depending on the size of your company, it may be a more financially savvy move to outsource your maintenance needs and hire a third-party contractor to keep your forklifts in great working condition. This strategy allows you to build a good working relationship with the hired technician, which streamlines routine maintenance appointments.
Here are some of the benefits of hiring a professional technician for your lift truck maintenance needs:
1. Ensure Quality Service
Hiring a forklift maintenance service ensures technicians will repair your equipment to high-quality standards. Experienced forklift technicians can identify issues and prescribe repairs that will address underlying problems you and your operators missed. When sudden issues arise, technicians can help you troubleshoot and discover the cause of new mechanical problems.
Reputable technicians and service providers guarantee their work to ensure you get the performance you need to stay productive. Additionally, technicians can help put your forklift fleet on a maintenance plan. Their expertise helps ensure you stay up-to-date with service intervals and get records for compliance.
2. Get the Right Parts
Replacing forklift parts should occur on an ongoing basis, based on the rate of wear and tear. When you need to replace forklift parts, it's important to use the correct high-quality products for your lift truck model. In many cases, you may need to source parts that are manufacturer-certified.
When you partner with a reputable forklift service provider, they'll conduct parts replacement using genuine, high-quality parts to ensure long-term performance.
3. Preserve Your Warranty
Many manufacturer warranties require certified professions to conduct forklift servicing, repairs and replacements using genuine parts. If you ever need to make a claim against your warranty, you need to be able to demonstrate you've followed the terms of the warranty to ensure its validity.
By using a third-party forklift maintenance service for all your repair needs, you'll protect your warranty so you can rely on it when you need it most.
4. Save Time With Scheduled Maintenance
Having a professional technician to rely on can save you time. By scheduling your maintenance, you maintain high productivity and reduce costly downtime. Professional technicians and maintenance plan providers offer many convenient and flexible services. Many technicians can come to service your forklift in the field. They can also help you plan your planned maintenance and provide complete PM plans so you can have peace of mind.
Many forklift services can provide 24/7 emergency service, meaning you'll always have access to a technician when you need one.
Choose Holt of California for Your Forklift Maintenance Needs
Being diligent with forklift maintenance is important for safety, compliance, productivity and profitability. Knowing how to properly maintain a forklift can prevent expensive and sudden repairs that cause unplanned downtime. To ensure your lift truck is always well maintained, it's important to trust qualified technicians to do the job.
Holt of California is a full-service forklift maintenance and repair company. Our qualified technicians have the expertise, equipment and techniques to perform top-grade lift truck maintenance as you need. Performing around90% of repairs in the field,Holt of California forklift services provide convenience to get you back up and running quickly. Learn more about our forklift services and contact us today for more information.
- Category: News
- Warehouse Forklifts
- Electric Forklifts
- Counterbalance Forklifts
- Narrow Aisle Forklifts
- Walkie Stacker
- Hand Pallet Trucks
- Tow Trucks
- Rough Terrain Forklifts
When buying or renting a lift truck, there are lots of factors to consider about the different types of forklifts and their uses. The first thing to think about is whether you operate indoors or outdoors, as each environment has unique needs. The next thing to consider is any restrictions you have, such as aisle widths or clearance heights. Finally, you need to think of the weight and height capacity you need and choose the right model accordingly.
Though there are dozens of different kinds of forklifts and models, knowing the broad categories of each type of forklift and their applications can help you narrow down your options. This guide to the different kinds of forklifts and their uses can help you determine which lift truck you need to improve your operations.
1. Warehouse Forklifts
Warehouse forklift is a general term to describe common lift trucks used indoors. Though there are many different types of forklifts for warehouse settings, what they have in common is they’re all lift trucks designed for efficient, safe and healthy indoor use. To operate in the warehouse, forklifts need specific qualities that make them the best option possible for their application. Some of the ideal features to look for in a warehouse forklift include:
- Clean energy: Warehouse forklifts must be powered by a clean energy source that doesn’t emit harmful fumes when operated indoors. With so many workers in confined spaces, it’s critical for health and safety standards that warehouse forklifts are powered by electrical energy sources, rather than diesel or gas-powered lifts.
- Turning radius: Indoor forklifts also need to have a tight turning radius, allowing them to easily navigate the narrow spaces found in warehouses. Indoor forklifts have a small design, and some can even turn around in their own footprint, making them ideal for narrow aisles.
- Lift capacity: In warehouses that stock and store a variety of goods, you need a forklift that has a larger weight capacity to be able to manage whatever goods you receive. Some warehouse forklifts have capacities up to 20,000 pounds, depending on the design. Always ensure you use a forklift that can comfortably handle your largest loads.
Despite the fact that all warehouses share a relatively common purpose, warehouse operators differ widely in what they need from their forklifts. That’s why a single warehouse operation may employ multiple different types of forklifts for various operational tasks. They may have some with lower reach and weight capacities, and others with taller reaches and larger weight capacities.
2. Electric Forklifts
Electric forklifts are warehouse forklifts powered by electricity from a battery rather than by diesel, gas or propane. They emit zero emissions, making them an eco-friendly choice for warehouses looking to meet specific sustainability goals. Because electric forklifts are battery powered, they are quieter than fuel-powered models. This reduced noise makes them ideally suited for the indoors where protecting worker hearing and improving communications is essential.
Electric forklifts can be either three-wheel or four-wheel machines, with the three-wheel configuration being more maneuverable than the four-wheel. Besides their indoor suitability, electric lift trucks are also capable of safely lifting, loading and unloading heavy loads with capacities ranging between 5,000 pounds and 20,000 pounds, depending on the model.
Holt of California is proud to offer the following brands of electric forklifts:
- Cat® electric lift trucks
- Mitsubishi electric hand and rider trucks
- Clark electric forklifts
- Linde E-trucks
- Kalmar lift trucks
3. Counterbalance Forklifts
Counterbalance forklifts are considered the most common forklift in warehousing and manufacturing, and they’re usually the type that comes to mind when discussing different types of forklifts. Counterbalanced forklifts, also known as Class I forklifts according to OSHA, are electric-powered warehouse and industrial lift trucks that usually have a lower weight capacity between 3,000 pounds and 12,000 pounds. While OSHA defines this class as strictly electric, counterbalance forklifts also come in diesel- and propane-powered options.
Recognizable by their two front forks, counterbalance forklifts earn their name because the front load’s weight is balanced out by the equipment's weight in the rear. This offset ensures the forklift is able to maintain stability as it lifts loads to its capacity. While counterbalance forklifts are generally operated from a seated position, stand-up models do exist. The benefit of the stand-up option is that it’s more compact, making it more maneuverable. Because the operator is standing up, they can also benefit from improved visibility in all directions, potentially making the equipment safer to operate.
Counterbalance forklifts come in four-wheel and three-wheel models, with the three-wheel option being highly desirable in narrow warehouses due to its superior maneuverability. Three-wheel forklifts are generally recommended for indoor uses where there is smooth, even ground. They can also be used outdoors in building supply yards or other applications where there’s flat asphalt or concrete. Because three-wheel counterbalance forklifts are smaller, they generally have a smaller load capacity than their 4-wheeled counterparts. The typical load capacity for a three-wheel counterbalance forklift is around 5,000 pounds.
At Holt of California, you’ll find a range of counterbalance forklifts available, including Mitsubishi’s line of three- and four-wheel counterbalance forklifts in small and mid sizes.
4. Narrow Aisle Forklifts
Narrow aisle forklifts, also known to OSHA as Class II forklifts, are electric forklifts designed to be operated in narrow aisles and tight indoor spaces. Though they are compact, narrow aisle forklifts are also sturdy, safe and versatile in loading and lifting a variety of goods. Generally, warehouse operators and employees rely on narrow aisle forklifts for tasks like picking and stocking inventory.
Because of the superior maneuverability of narrow aisle forklifts, many busy, full and growing warehouses opt for this forklift type as their staple lift equipment. These forklifts are also a good investment if you plan on adding more racking and inventory over time. As warehouse space becomes a more precious commodity, warehouse managers need to use the most efficient tools at their disposal to increase productivity and reduce operating costs. Narrow aisle forklifts are one of the reliable solutions to achieve these goals.
Narrow aisle forklifts are smaller, simpler machines than larger industrial lift trucks. Their maintenance requirements are also lower, helping managers save money and preserve their investment. For warehouse managers wanting to save space and opt for the narrow aisle forklift, there are a few types of lift trucks for narrow aisles, including side loaders, cherry pickers — also known as order pickers — and reach trucks:
Side loaders, also known as industrial side loaders, are a kind of indoor warehouse forklift typically used in manufacturing or wherever large, heavy items are being handled. Side loaders are operated from a side-facing compartment and move in a sideways fashion down the aisles with the operator facing the racks rather than down the aisle. As opposed to traditional forward-driving forklifts, side loaders save space by loading and unloading from the side without having to turn and face the rack in tight spaces.
Because side loaders run alongside racking systems, it makes them ideal as one of the best types of forklifts used in warehouses where long goods are being stores, such as timber or piping, which will only fit lengthwise down an aisle.
Side loaders come in two models: enclosed cabs and stand-up. Stand-up side loaders are commonly thought of as types of forklifts in warehouses, whereas enclosed cab side loaders are suitable for outdoor use. Some variations of side loaders have the ability to turn the wheels 90 degrees so the goods can be transported in any direction once out of the aisle. Depending on the model, some side loaders can obtain lifts of up to 30 feet.
Not all types of industrial lift trucks have the strict duty of lifting materials or pallets. Certain types of lift trucks are designed to lift personnel. Order pickers, also known as cherry pickers, are types of forklifts used in construction, warehousing, installations and other applications to help technicians and workers reach up high. In warehouses, in particular, shelving racks can reach over 30 feet. When workers need to access inventory on the top shelves, they need a safe, controlled solution like order pickers to hand-pick goods safely.
Order pickers are typically electric-powered personnel lifts with a driver platform that extends upward. The benefit of this kind of forklift is that it allows the worker to lift up or retrieve only a few specific items at a time. Without an order picker lift truck, a warehouse worker would need to use a forklift to reach up and retrieve an entire load, such as a container, bring it down and then sort through it to find what they need. Order pickers save time by allowing a worker direct access to top-shelf goods. Because they’re meant for lifting to high shelves, order pickers are designed to fit in narrow aisles between shelving.
Order picker lift trucks from Holt of California come in various sizes and capacities — from small- to mid- to high-level reaches ranging from 9 feet to 30 feet with a load capacity up to 3,000 pounds.
While standard types of forklifts have forks that lift up and down only, reach trucks have forks that extend forward and back. Reach truck applications are typically for larger warehouses where vertical space is optimized. In order to reach significant heights, you need a reach truck that fits in the narrow aisles and reaches far enough. A reach truck provides this ability safely. Thanks to its stabilizer legs, reach trucks are sturdy and keep their balance without a rear counterbalance weight.
The benefit of having forks that reach ahead is that operators can extend the forks into the racking and retrieve loads, rather than relying on forks extending from the operator compartment. Some reach trucks are designed for their forks to extend twice as far as a standard forklift, meaning you can load two pallets at once.
Many trusted manufacturers supply reach trucks for warehouses with high racking setups. Here are some of the brands of reach truck models available from Holt of California:
5. Walkie Stacker
A walkie stacker is a simpler lift truck where the operator walks behind the truck. Walkie stackers are designed for warehouses because they are compact and can be easily maneuvered down narrow aisles. Walkie stackers are equipped with a motor, meaning the operator can move them backward and forward with basic controls.
The operator positions the forks of the walkie directly under the load, and the motorized lift raises the load effortlessly. Walkies are often seen as more efficient alternatives to hand pallet trucks because they lift heavier loads than manual versions. Despite their motorized lift mechanism, walkies are generally reserved for smaller-capacity loads since they’re built on a small frame and small wheels.
Some models have front legs to help distribute the weight, while others have legs on either side to help stabilize the load. Some models have no operator platform, while others do. Certain advanced models even offer the ability to adjust the stabilizer legs to accommodate different load sizes and aisle widths.
Since walkies aren’t as complex as other fully motorized warehouse forklifts, they’re often seen as a great compromise between manual pallet jacks and standard forklifts, which can be a significant investment. Walkies give you the efficiency of motorized lift capabilities at an economical price. Holt of California supplies seven different models of walkie stacker lift trucks, ranging in load capacities from 2,200 pounds to 4,400 pounds.
6. Hand Pallet Trucks
Hand pallet trucks, also known as pallet jacks or pedestrian operated pallet trucks, are manual lift trucks. The truck has two front-facing forks and a rear handle. The operator positions the forks underneath the pallet, and using the hydraulic pump lever, they jack the pallet off the ground, readying it for transport.
As opposed to forklifts, which are for transporting and lifting loads to heights, a hand pallet truck or pallet jack is simply for handling material around the warehouse floor — such as from trailer to storage destination. Hand pallet trucks have a small spatial footprint, which makes them easy to maneuver in tight spaces. Despite being operated entirely manually, a person can easily glide a pallet jack carrying up to 5,000 pounds of goods.
There’s no training or certification required to operate a pallet jack, and it's often the most common lift truck found in any warehouse. It’s affordable, practical and can lift impressively strong loads given its small size. Because there are no motorized parts, hand pallet trucks are considered affordable to purchase, operate and maintain. Hand pallet trucks come in a variety of models with various features. While most are designed for indoor environments with flat, smooth surfaces, there are some built with all-terrain wheels to be used outdoors.
Hand pallet trucks available through Holt of California include the following brands:
7. Tow Trucks
Tow trucks are another type of industrial lift truck typically used in warehouse settings, especially in the automotive sector. Tow trucks are just as they sound — a front towing truck that hitches up to trailers and then tows the trailers around the warehouse. It’s common to see warehouses using tow trucks with multiple trailers towing behind carrying various goods around the facility. Operators drive the tow truck from a front control compartment with a two-way entrance, allowing them to get on and off from either side of the aisle.
Tow trucks are best used in warehouses or facilities that handle itemized goods rather than pallets. This makes them ideal lift and transport trucks for manufacturing facilities as well as retail and e-commerce businesses that carry a range of different consumer goods. Another benefit of having tow trucks is that you can transport multiple loads at once, whereas traditional forklifts limit this efficiency. With long tow trains, you can maximize productivity and not be restricted by the type of load you need to transport.
8. Rough Terrain Forklifts
When you're operating lift trucks on challenging, uneven outdoor terrain, you’ll need a forklift with heavy-duty tires designed for rugged conditions. Rough terrain forklifts are diesel-powered lift trucks meant to be operated outdoors on construction sites and in lumber and building supply yards. From wet roads to gravel to slippery mud, rough terrain forklifts are built for uneven surfaces and can easily withstand the elements.
When workers need to lift and move building materials safely, they need the lift power and reassurance of stability on rough terrain. Rough terrain forklift models come in two- and four-wheel drives. While most have straight arms, some have telescoping arms for more accurate and convenient reach and load capacities up to 12,000 pounds. Rough terrain forklifts are classified by OSHA as Class VII, meaning they require additional operator training certification. This is because when the model has a telescoping arm, there is more to know about how to safely operate the lift truck.
Telehandlers are often considered their own category of equipment, however, they serve the same basic functions as many lift trucks. Telehandlers, or telescopic handlers, are reach forklifts used in agriculture, construction and other industrial capacities. They’re generally built on rugged tires that are ideal for outdoor environments with uneven terrain. The telescoping arm means that the mast extends and retracts from itself, giving it additional reach.
Typically considered to be aerial lifts or personnel lifts, telehandlers help workers achieve heights, and their forks can lift and hoist loads up to 12,000 pounds. As such, the telehandler is a versatile lift truck acting as a forklift, crane and work platform hybrid. Telehandlers also typically have reach capacities greater than forklifts, with some models reaching over 50 feet. This extensive reach capacity makes telehandlers ideal on construction sites with multi-story buildings.
Unlike other lift trucks, telehandlers have multiple steering options. Operators can change from front-wheel-drive when driving on the road to four-wheel-drive for better maneuverability. Telehandlers also offer crab steering mode, allowing the operator to shift loads sideways away from walls or declines.
Find Your Next Forklift at Holt of California
With such a range of different types of forklifts, it can be difficult to know which type you need for your application. From narrow aisle forklifts designed for indoor use to industrial forklifts that can withstand rugged outdoor conditions, there are various types of forklifts to meet your requirements.
When deciding on the right forklift for your business, contact a Holt of California product specialist to learn more about your capacity, height and power needs. Browse our new or used lift trucks for sale or rent, and contact us today with any questions.
- Category: News
- Category: News
- What is Material Handling Equipment?
- The Different Types of Material Handling Equipment
- Benefits of Material Handling Equipment
- Top Material Handling Equipment Options
Do you want to improve your warehouse or storage facility? If so, you'll want to invest in material handling equipment. With this equipment, warehouses regularly improve their staff's productivity, organization and safety. If these sound like benefits you're interested in, you'll need to know more about material handling equipment.
To be an informed buyer, you should learn more about the types and uses of material handling equipment. Before you make the decision to invest, you should also know the top advantages associated with the equipment and some of the best options on the market today.
What Is Material Handling Equipment?
Material handling equipment is any piece of equipment that controls, stores, protects or transports materials, products or goods. This type of equipment covers those used in the process of producing, distributing, consuming and disposing of materials. Sometimes, it's also described as the mechanical equipment that makes up the entire system.
The Different Types of Material Handling Equipment
There are various types of material handling equipment that assist at different times in the material handling process. So, how many types of material handling equipment are available? Typically, material handling equipment is broken up into four categories: industrial trucks, storage and handling equipment, engineered systems and bulk material handling.
1. Industrial Trucks
One of the broadest categories of material handling equipment is industrial trucks. Although industrial trucks cover several different pieces of equipment, they all relate to transporting materials and often come in the form of a forklift. These industrial trucks can refer to both basic hand-operated devices and more complex motorized vehicles. Whether motorized or hand-operated, they're built to help transport pallets and other materials inside your warehouse. Some of the types of industrial trucks include:
- Order pickers: An order picker is an electric lift truck that's built to fulfill customer orders. Instead of grabbing whole pallets or loads, the order picker has the ability to grab smaller pieces of material. It's great for times when an operator needs to pull parts from a variety of SKUs and pallets. The best order pickers will lift the operator up the mast during the order picking task to make it easier for them to select the needed item.
- Pallet jacks: Pallet jacks are used to assist with moving materials and are the most basic type of forklift available to use. These pallet jacks come in different load capacities, speeds and widths, so they can meet the varying needs of users. Additionally, electric pallet jack models can come with a variety of systems that help with picking and navigation.
- Walkie stackers: These stackers come with a mast that helps users lift pallets up as high as needed. Typically, walkie stackers are built to have an operator behind the lifting mechanism. Like forklifts, the machine has a fork on the front to help with lifting and transporting pallets. The walkie stacker is controlled with a tiller, which the operator can lift and move.
- Sideloaders: Sideloaders are pieces of automated equipment similar to forklifts, but instead of loading from the front, they load from the side. The top choices for sideloaders will have multidirectional steering for navigating confined areas while handling materials. Typically, sideloaders are used for long loads and pallets.
- Telehandlers: Telehandlers are a type of lifting machine that utilize both an attachment and boom to pick up materials and transport them around a worksite. Telehandlers are perfect as a forklift when outfitted with a fork attachment due to their usually high load capacity, as well as their ability to lift loads higher than normal forklifts.
- Hand, platform and pallet trucks: Hand trucks are sometimes referred to as a box cart or dolly. They come with wheels, handles on one side and a platform to place objects on. Oftentimes, hand trucks are used to move pallets short distances. Platform trucks are like a two-wheeled dolly that has an extended deck. Additionally, pallet trucks refer to industrial forklifts that are either manually operated or engine powered.
2. Storage and Handling Equipment
Storage and handling equipment is a simple but crucial type of material handling equipment employed in warehouses. This type of equipment is used, like the name suggests, to store and handle materials while they await transport to a new destination. These pieces of equipment are often relied on to ensure that materials are stored in a space-efficient manner in a warehouse, as well as improving efficiency on the warehouse floor.
Storage and handling equipment is also defined by it not being automated, as automated storage and handling equipment falls under the equipment category of "engineered systems." These pieces of non-automated equipment can be used for short or long term storage needs. They're perfect for companies looking to keep their warehouses organized, clutter-free and easy to navigate.
Some of the top pieces of storage and handling equipment include:
- Shelves, bins and drawers: To keep a warehouse organized, companies regularly turn to bins and drawers, as they can keep parts, tools and products in the appropriate place. Shelving units help users place their materials on multiple levels in a secure manner.
- Racks: There are a variety of frameworks that make up racks to help store specific types of materials. Some popular racking solutions include wire decking, pallet racking and cantilever brackets, each specializing in storing specific types of materials.
- Stacking frames: If you want to avoid crushing materials while you stack loads, you'll need stacking frames. These frames are interlocking units that help with stacking and keeping loads from weighing down on one another, causing damage to materials.
- Mezzanines: Mezzanines are elevated floor systems that warehouses regularly install to provide extra storage space. They are raised off the ground at varying heights to help you store materials above your ground storage areas. Additionally, they can be installed and taken down with ease, giving you plenty of flexibility with how they're used.
3. Engineered Systems
A close cousin to storage and handling equipment, engineered systems encompass automated systems that make storage easier. Typically, they're constructed out of automated units that assist with enabling more efficient storage, handling and transportation of materials, even in large volumes or sizes.
Learn more about some of the primary kinds of engineered systems below:
- Automatic guided vehicles: An automatic guided vehicle is a type of mobile robot that moves materials around a warehouse or another kind of facility by following wires or markers on the floor.
- Conveyor systems: Conveyor systems typically carry heavy materials to pre-set locations through the use of live rollers, belts and flexible chains. This is one of the most popular types of material handling equipment in warehouses, as it helps to transport large volumes of items and materials quickly.
- Robotic delivery systems: Robotic delivery systems refer to automated systems that transport materials and move products onto an assembly line in a facility.
- Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems: Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, or AR/RS, are automated structures that are large and involve shelves, aisles and racks. Typically, they're used with a mechanized system that facilitates the fast retrieval of items. They also can integrate into a facility's network to monitor logistical systems and stock control.
4. Bulk Material Handling
Bulk material handling is a type of equipment that is designed to handle and transport large volumes of material, whether in loose or bulk forms. Usually, the material that this type of equipment handles comes in a loose form. Like engineered systems, they can also use conveyor belts to assist with horizontal transportation of the loose items.
The following pieces of bulk material equipment are some of the most commonly used:
- Grain elevators: If you store grain, grain elevators help move it throughout your facility.
- Bucket elevators: Otherwise referred to as grain legs, bucket elevators help to vertically haul your bulk materials.
- Silos: Most commonly known for storing grain, silos are towers that can also store other bulk materials like woodchips, food products, coal and sawdust.
- Hoppers: Hoppers are a type of container for bulk materials that then discharge and taper any stored materials at the bottom.
- Reclaimers: To retrieve materials and other items from stockpiles, warehouses rely on large machines called reclaimers. Reclaimers are a type of machine that recovers bulk materials from stockpiles.
Benefits of Material Handling Equipment
Before you invest in material handling equipment used in warehouses and other facilities, you'll need to know how they can benefit you. Below you can learn more about the primary advantages of investing in and using material handling equipment in your warehouse:
1. Greater Inventory Management
One of the big draws of using material handling equipment is a company's ability to better handle their inventory and keep track of it. The equipment ensures that your materials are in the right place and arrive where they need to be at the right time. Essentially, with this type of equipment, you receive greater control over your inventory, handling it with greater accuracy and storing your material at accessible locations.
With improved inventory management, you'll be able to locate items faster and reduce the chances that your staff will misplace items throughout the course of a day. Knowing where materials are and having equipment designed to handle inventory results in fewer accidents that lead to damaged products.
2. Maximized Productivity
When you choose material handling equipment, you streamline many of your tasks, reducing the number of workers needed to handle various functions and speeding up many tasks. The best equipment is also designed to be intuitive to operators, helping them maximize their time at work by getting more tasks done faster and with greater ease.
If you ship items from your warehouse, you'll be happy to know that material handling equipment can help you cut shipping and handling costs. These pieces of equipment can help make the shipping process faster. For example, conveyors can take shipping materials from one point to another without requiring heavy lifting from your staff. As a whole, material handling equipment reduces the amount of staff it takes to ship and handle items, thus improving productivity.
As a result of all these productivity benefits that material handling equipment provides, you'll free up your workforce's time significantly. With this extra time, you can have staff begin to explore new opportunities at the warehouse, accomplish old tasks faster and take on new business since your workforce will be able to keep up with demand.
3. Improved Workflow
Creating a better workflow is crucial to effective operations at your warehouse and your facilities. Different types of material handling equipment can assist with upgrading your workflow. For one, the equipment reduces the amount of manual labor and workers on the warehouse's floor, helping to keep lanes clear and prevent any traffic from building up. Some pieces of equipment can also navigate hard to reach areas, helping them keep off the main pathways that your other equipment needs to travel on.
4. Better Customer Service
Customer service is one of the areas often overlooked that material handling equipment impacts positively. By improving the workflow, increasing productivity and storing items in a more efficient and safe manner through the use of material handling equipment, a company directly improves the level of customer service they provide.
As you implement overall improvements in your storage, handling and transportation processes, you'll give a better experience to your customers. By improving workflow and tracking inventory more effectively, you'll be able to get shipments to customers faster, reducing the number of missed deadlines. Additionally, the automated transportation and storage options prevent products from becoming damaged due to user error, helping to ensure your products don't arrive at the customer's door broken.
5. Safer Workplace
One of the benefits that workers appreciate the most from material handling equipment is the lessening of manual labor in their day-to-day duties. Instead of having to pick up or adjust materials on their own, they'll have the equipment to do it for them. Reducing manual labor in the workplace makes the day less tiring for employees and prevents injuries.
Warehouse workers are more likely to experience hand and back injuries when they have to handle material on their own. Picking up material that's too heavy can cause a worker to throw out their back, among a number of other injuries. By investing in material handling equipment, you're investing in the safety of your workforce.
6. Increased Worker Satisfaction and Efficiency
Besides helping your bottom line by improving productivity and keeping work flowing smoothly, material handling equipment can also lead to higher worker satisfaction. One reason for the increased worker satisfaction is the equipment's ability to prevent injuries and keep employees safe. Without having to worry about getting injured at work, workers can approach their tasks more confidently and keep their spirits high.
Another reason why employees appreciate material handling equipment is because it helps them complete jobs faster and reduces the amount of physical labor they have to do each day. Along with improving worker satisfaction, the time-saving benefits of the equipment help employees complete more tasks in a day, leading to higher worker efficiency.
Top Material Handling Equipment Options
As you search for new equipment to improve your warehouses or other facilities, check out some of the best examples of material handling equipment on the market today:
1. Cat® Lift Trucks
Caterpillar® is one of the most trusted companies in the world because of their high-quality machines and equipment that they regularly release. As such, Cat lift trucks are some of the best options for your material handling needs. The following lift trucks are well-suited for a variety of purposes:
- Electric Cat Lift Trucks: In contrast to gas-powered trucks, Electric Cat Lift Trucks come prepared to give you all the power you need, combined with a lack of emissions and sound. For example, the electrical EC23N-EC30LN series of cushion tire lift trucks are exceptional options for most uses, as they provide mid-size power in a high-performance, energy-efficient package.
- IC Cushion Tire Cat Lift Trucks: IC cushion tire lift trucks feature cushion tires that are made out of a metal band that have a smooth rubber covering fitted around it. They are quite maneuverable and are also great at handling on smooth ground. The GC35K-GC70K series of cushion tire lift trucks from Cat are some of the best mid-size IC Cushion Tire Lift Trucks available today. They offer up to 15,5000 pounds of lift capacity with a max lift height of 233 inches.
- IC Pneumatic Cat Lift Trucks: Pneumatic trucks are defined by their pneumatic tires, which have tires that are similar to those used on trucks and cars, along with their internal combustion engine. The GP40N-GP55N series of mid-size IC pneumatic lift trucks has a max lift capacity of 12,000 pounds and a max lift height of 238 inches, making them great options for most warehouse handling needs.
2. Turret Trucks
Turret trucks, or turret forklifts, are used to reach pallets and materials that are stacked high. They are often utilized by warehouses where space is tight and material has to be stacked vertically. Holt of California offers turret trucks that feature rechargeable batteries, max lift heights of 40 feet, the ability to navigate 5 feet wide aisles and wire guidance for steering.
Man-Down and Man-Up Jungheinrich Turret Trucks are some of the best options available to companies. The Man-Down series of turret trucks are designed so the operator controls the side-mounted mast and lift attachment from a forward-facing seat. The Man-Up series of turret trucks allows the user to adjust their seat's height, going up as high as the lift's mast. Either option delivers superior ergonomics, lifting capacity and efficiency.
3. Reach Trucks
Sometimes referred to as reach lifts, reach trucks are a type of forklift that are designed to retrieve pallets and materials in narrow aisles. Many of these trucks even come with deep reach shelving capabilities that go two pallets deep. Reach trucks are ideal for facilities with narrow aisles because their positioning ensures that less of a load protrudes from them. Additionally, since forks are on a right angle on the truck's side, the truck doesn't have to turn, which is a difficult task in a narrow aisle.
Reach trucks offered by Holt of California come in models that fit in aisles that are only 8 feet wide. They also come in models that have an impressive reach height of 24 feet, alongside a load capacity ranging from 2,200 to 5,500 pounds.
Turn to Holt of California for Your Material Handling Equipment Needs
For over 80 years, Holt of California has partnered with customers to provide them with the best equipment and support. We offer a vast inventory of material handling equipment, making it easy for you to find something perfect for your needs.
Browse our material handling equipment for sale today and find your local dealership. If you have any questions while looking through our equipment, contact us to speak with one of our trusted representatives.