The definitive summer forklift maintenance guide

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At Hiremech, we know how important your forklifts are to you – they’re the lifeblood that keeps your operation running all year round. As with any machine, particularly one that you rely on, proper ongoing maintenance is an essential consideration.

You should already have a general maintenance program that applies all year round – but what are the specific seasonal maintenance considerations you should be making to keep your forklift/fleet running reliably?

Summer is basically upon us – so here’s your handy Hiremech summer forklift maintenance guide to make sure you’re properly prepared.

Checking the batteries

Without the battery operating at peak efficiency, your forklift is largely useless – so battery checks should be a part of your daily ongoing maintenance routine. But what about during the summer? What should you be particularly vigilant for?

In summer, the rising heat levels can cause an increase in a forklift battery’s likelihood for corrosion, especially if the battery is already mid-way or further through its service life. Low fluid levels are also a concern, due to the heat causing the battery fluid to begin to evaporate.

During summer, a part of your everyday battery checks should be to keep a note of the water levels in the battery cells. If the levels are low, top them up with water – first checking it is the correct pH. If fluid loss is consistent, you might want to consider replacing the battery for peace of mind.

Checking the oil

Checking your forklift’s oil is, again, an everyday maintenance check that is especially important during the summer. In summer, oil is at risk of overheating in through the pipework of your forklift, which can make your forklift be unreliable and unresponsive.

Heat is also a consideration for oil lines, which can crack and split under the pressure of the increased heat levels from the summer sun. This can lead to oil leaks, which make for a very unsafe working environment, as well as a forklift that you can’t rely on.

Make sure to check oil levels every day – ideally before the forklift is used and after it has been put away for the day. If your forklift is in constant use, the oil should be checked with every shift change.

Cooling is king

As with all vehicles, forklifts can be prone to overheating in the warm weather. The lack of relative breeze makes it difficult to get the necessary airflow through the engine. When the engine is starved of airflow, it can begin to operate sluggishly and might become prone to stalling.

There’s not much you can do to make the weather more breezy, but you should make sure your forklift’s radiator is in the best condition possible. Check every day for any cracks or damage that might hamper its efficiency, and be sure to check regularly for any debris blocking it – which should be removed immediately.

Cooling fans are also essential to prevent the forklift’s engine from overheating, so be sure to regularly check any belts and fans for signs of wear or damage. Any cracks, holes, fraying, or splitting should be reported immediately and repaired as soon as possible, to prevent failure which can lead to engine damage.

The damage of dust

During warm weather, dust becomes a serious consideration – particularly around logistics centres, warehouses, and factories, where forklifts are used most. Pallets being moved, dust being kicked up off the ground, and general air pollution become a concern during the warmer months.

When it rains, it serves to purify the air of this dust and other particulates. When it’s dry, they have free reign to clog up your forklift’s vents, pipes, and controls. Check regularly for signs of dust ingress, which might take the form of a choking engine or suddenly unreliable electrics.

Dust and grime are also much more likely to stick when it’s dry, so make sure your forklifts have the benefit of a regular washing to keep them as clean as possible. This isn’t just to make them look better, but to help aid visibility as much as possible.

Checking the tyres

Tyres are an essential maintenance checklist item all year round – and they should be checked as regularly as possible. Summer, however, presents some specific challenges for a forklift’s tyres. The excess heat can cause the rubber to become relatively brittle, especially if it’s cooling down overnight.

In time this can lead to fraying, splitting, and general tyre degradation – tyre damage is a serious concern as it can affect the handling of the forklift and potentially cause further damage. Tyres have a degree of allowance engineered into them to handle wear, however, you should be mindful to check them.

You may find that tyres wear much faster during the summer months. It might be worth considering changing the type of tyre you use on your forklift, to one that is better designed to cope with the temperature changes that summer can provide.

Checking the brakes

As with all things during summer, brakes can be prone to overheating when the temperature is excessive. Check your brakes as regularly as possible for any signs of excess wear, fade, or damage. Brakes that don’t operate efficiently are, naturally, a considerable safety hazard.

Brakes can also be prone to collecting an excessive amount of dust and grime in the warmer weather. The solution to this is to regularly check your forklift’s brake fluid, and keep it topped up as necessary. Also, regularly washing the forklift will help remove any accumulated grime which may harm braking efficiency.

What about electric forklifts?

Electric forklifts are rising in popularity, but what are the considerations you need to make during the summer?

Compared to traditional forklifts, electric forklifts are much simpler so you’re not going to have to worry about complicated engine management and mechanical parts failing to the same degree. So, what are your priorities?

Batteries

The primary consideration you’ll need to make with an electric forklift is to make sure that the battery is operating at the correct temperature. Batteries usually operate more efficiently in warmer weather, however hard work during an especially sunny day can put the battery under excess strain.

When a battery gets too hot, the first sign is it becoming less efficient. You will likely notice your battery providing you less range than you’re used to. As a battery continues to overheat, it becomes prone to become irreparably damaged – at which point the only option is replacement.

If you leave a battery to consistently overheat, there are even more risks that you’re running. The first is that the battery might begin to leak, which can cause damage to the rest of your forklift and the battery compartment. A battery that overheats to a high enough degree can also become volatile – so check it consistently.

To keep the battery as protected as possible, ensure it’s not exposed to the direct heat of the sun and that dust and particulates can’t easily find their way to it. Your forklift should have a closable battery compartment, if it doesn’t, it’s worth investing in a way to protect it, such as a cover.

Tyres and brakes

While an electric forklift doesn’t share the mechanical complexity of a traditional forklift, it does still have the same tyres and the same brakes to consider. Heat can cause both of these to become less efficient and prone to damage over time, so it’s highly important to check them on a regular basis.

Operators should be performing visual tyre checks at the start of every shift and the end of every shift, at a minimum, with a more involved tyre check at the workshop advisable bi-weekly at least. Brakes should be consistently monitored, and any fade, juddering or pulling reported and rectified immediately.

Checking for rust

Rust can be an issue for forklifts during the summer months – as Britain isn’t a totally dry climate, forklifts are still prone to getting wet, either from summer showers or morning dew if they’re left outside.

The issue is that when a still-wet forklift is exposed to the summer sun, it can hasten the corrosion process. It might be worth thinking about having your forklift rust-proofed – if not just for summer then as a general precaution to lengthen the useful service life.

Check for any bubbling corrosion around wheel arches, body panels, and anywhere that metal meets such as on the fork mechanism. Catching the signs of rust early can make it much easier to treat – if corrosion is left it will consume the whole forklift in time.

The human element

Remember your forklift operators in the summer months – whether you have a fleet of operators, or you’re an owner-operator yourself.

Remember to take regular breaks if you’re working in the direct sunshine, always have water available and drink throughout the course of the shift. Be mindful of glare and carry appropriate eye protection – forklifts are usually exposed, so protect any skin with sun cream to prevent burns.

Sudden summer showers can make the ground exceptionally slippery very quickly, so always be mindful to slow right down and pay extra attention when manoeuvring.

Contact Hiremech for help

If you need any more help, advice, or guidance about how to best keep your forklift or forklift fleet operational through the summer or any other season for that matter, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

At Hiremech we have unparalleled experience in all things forklifts – we can help you keep on the right track and ensure your forklift is as reliable as possible. Our friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable team is always on hand to help you with any advice or direction required.

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How reach trucks can improve warehouse efficiency

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Do you have a warehouse as part of your business? How do you feel about the current way it is used and run? Do you think you are getting maximum use out of the space and are you able to find and retrieve pallets quickly and easily?

Reach Trucks Hiremech Ltd

If you have asked yourself these questions and find yourself doubting the efficiency of your warehouse as a result, it might be time to consider hiring or buying a reach truck.

Particularly if the aisles in your warehouse are relatively small and close together, reach trucks can be your answer to quicker storage and retrieval operations, therefore allowing you to spend much more time on activities which add value, growth and progression to your business.

What are reach trucks?

Reach trucks are a type of forklift used specifically to reach items in a space with narrow aisles and often with high shelves. The most common places you will find them are in warehouses, where shelves are stacked high above our heads yet there isn’t much room to move around between racks.

Unlike a counterbalance truck, another type of forklift, these trucks can reach points that are usually impossible for other types of truck to get to.

Reach forklifts might look like balance would be a challenge for them, with their relatively small bodies yet the ability for the forks to stretch high into the sky, but actually this is not the case. The way they are designed, with their two outer legs to distribute the load and a small set of wheels at the rear, really helps with their balancing capabilities.

As the wheels are fixed on right below where the operator stands, the vehicle has a very tight turn radius, enabling it to move easily into smaller spaces where other trucks may not be able to go, yet still successfully reach high up places.

Essentially reach trucks are designed for people to use in warehouses due to their ideal combination of a maximum height on the lift and full freedom in terms of manoeuvrability.

How are reach trucks designed?

Reach trucks have a far more compact body than the usual counter-balance forklift you might see, even though the former’s wheel base length is usually the same as the latter’s. This is for the purpose already mentioned of being able to fit into tiny spaces.

Interestingly, the space for the operator actually varies depending on world geography. In North America, the operator stands up to use the truck, while in Europe the driver sits down sideways.

The reach truck has two outer legs in order to spread the load weight, and they may have one or two wheels per leg depending on the specific design.

How do reach trucks operate?

When ready to lift and transport a load, the operator will move the load backwards within the wheelbase. This is so as little of the load is sticking out as is possible, hence why reach trucks can operate in small spaces without knocking anything off the shelves.

Cleverly designed, the reach truck makes use of a scissor mechanism known as a pantograph, which means the forks and loads can extend forwards. So the operator will use this feature to reach in to shelving and racking.

The reach truck works by turning at a right angle so they can get up against the racking before reaching in to grab the needed pallet.

What are reach trucks used for?

Reach trucks are used predominantly in warehouses of all shapes and sizes. Most warehouses with narrow aisles would not have the space to fit and use any other type of forklift successfully, hence the need to invent the reach truck.

They really can squeeze themselves into tiny spaces. Their design allows them to operate in aisles less than around 2.5 metres wide, for instance.

With their design focus on stability and manoeuvrability, reach fork trucks can easily lift up to 2,500kg at any one time.

Even if they have a common use, this does not mean reach trucks can’t be used in other circumstances.

They can be operated outside, for example, except for when it’s raining. Unfortunately, because the machine is battery or electric powered, they cannot get wet.

Reach trucks could be used for the same sort of job as you might use a counter-balance forklift. The vehicle could also be fitted with extra attachments for specific lifting jobs.

Why are reach trucks useful?

1. They can reach into far places

As the name suggests, these trucks can reach their fork carriage way beyond the stabilising legs, therefore allowing them to reach much further into the shelving or racking.

2. They work successfully in tight spaces

Most warehouses are packed to the brim so that the space paid for is used efficiently and value for money is maintained. The only time this can become problematic is when needing to retrieve a pallet stored high up or deep in the racking.

This is why reach trucks were invented. They can retrieve these tucked away items with their ability to operate in extremely tight environments while often being able to lift over nine metres because of their stabilising legs.

3. Counterbalance weights aren’t necessary

Contrary to what you might believe, these forklifts do not need any counterbalance weights because their stabilising legs are designed with such precision.

How can they make your warehouse more efficient?

While there are other situations where you may find a reach truck useful, their design really does fit perfectly for situations where you have a high density of storage and need to both place and retrieve goods quickly. Aka a warehouse.

Some might say how on earth does the operator see what they are doing if they are trying to reach a pallet nine metres above them in the centre of a rack?

It’s a problem easily fixed. Reach trucks can be fitted with cameras attached to the fork carriage. These cameras transmit signals to a screen which the operator can see, therefore assisting them in picking up the right item.

So all in all, reach trucks are a fantastic way of enabling you to use maximum space in your warehouse while still being able to store away and then find whatever you need quickly.

The benefits of reach trucks

You might now be thinking about the situations in which you might make use of a reach truck, but what about the specific benefits of having your own?

1. They solve a problem

The most obvious benefit of a reach truck, but still worth mentioning, is their ability to stretch up to nine metres to retrieve items. Their reach capability is better than any other forklift.

2. They are cheap

Thinking from a business perspective, reach trucks work extremely efficiently. They do not need a lot of fuel to run. They are also designed to operate with high efficiency and low maintenance costs.

This means after your initial investment in the vehicle, there will only be a minimal cost associated with running your reach truck.

3. They are easy to operate

Similarly to their electric truck cousins, reach trucks are very easy to operate and to run.

They are designed with a side-seated operator position which gives the operator more visibility of the fork tips when carrying out their job.

4. They are quiet

Keen not to buy a forklift which creates even more noise disruption in your warehouse? CAT reach trucks include mast technology, meaning they are really quiet to use and shouldn’t result in any noise complaints, no matter where your warehouse is located.

5. They allow for more storage

A wider benefit of deciding to hire a reach truck is your newfound ability to increase your rack storage in your warehouse.

Even if you are putting some money into your new truck, you will make that back by being able to get even better value for your money in your warehouse.

Do you need a licence to drive a reach truck?

Like any other forklift, you do not need a driving licence to operate a reach truck. However, any driver must have the right training and certification to operate one safely.

Anyone wanting to operate a reach truck should seek an accredited course from recognised institutions like RTITB, AITT, ALLMI and ITSAAR.

Users will need to choose the right certification for their forklift since each one operates and works differently.

It is unlikely with a reach truck, but in the eventuality you were going to drive it on a public road, even for a very short stretch, further training would be needed.

Any employer must take the responsibility of organising this certification and training before any of their employees start operating a reach truck, or any other forklift for that matter.

Choosing the right reach truck from Hiremech

Maybe you’re at the point in your decision-making process where you definitely want to have a reach truck to use in your warehouse, but now must decide which one to go for.

CAT reach trucks are known as the industry leader for their incredible range of innovative features. This includes, in particular, the steering travel compensation, which essentially adjusts steering sensitivity automatically. It works in relation to speed of travel so that sharp turns and accidents in the truck are avoided.

If you feel confident that you have now chosen your reach truck, but also have a need for other types of forklifts, then make sure you consider all of your options.

Gas forklifts, electric forklifts, diesel forklifts, pallet trucks, and flexi trucks all serve different uses and solve a range of problems you might be facing.

Get in touch, we’d be happy to talk to you about reach trucks, or any of your other forklift needs.

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Forklift finance – leasing vs. purchasing: which is best for your business?

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A forklift is an essential piece of equipment for many businesses, and it can be difficult to know whether to lease or purchase. Not all leasing options are the same, however, nor are they all suitable for every business.

So let’s discuss some of the most common leasing options available, in order for you to determine what’s going to be the best choice for you.

Long term casual hire

This is a more relaxed way of hiring a forklift – in many cases, you won’t even need to sign a contract. Generally, casual hire is most practical over a six-plus month period.

Casual hire will usually encompass all of your maintenance and service costs over the course of the period you have the forklift. This means keeping the forklift working reliably isn’t going to be an extra expense you need to factor into your finances. Often there will be some sort of provision for breakdown cover as well – though what is covered and the circumstances damage will be repaired is dependant on your forklift supplier, so make sure you ask.

Often there will be exclusions for customer damage, as well as “consumable” items such as replacement forks, tyres, and windscreens (where applicable).

The benefits

The primary benefit is, of course, that you’re not tied into any sort of contract. You can often have a notice period to terminate of just one month. This makes it a particularly good choice for newer businesses still finding their feet, or businesses that don’t have a consistent need for a forklift.

You can also change your forklift relatively easily. You might need to do this if the requirements you have for the forklift change. Many forklifts are designed to be optimised for certain tasks, so a more efficient machine may be waiting for you if your circumstances change – for example, the need to be able to load/unload heavier weight.

Access to ongoing support is another clear benefit to consider. Often forklifts need to be running constantly in order to fulfil orders and load/unload efficiently. If yours should happen to stop working for any reason, you’ll be able to contact the support team. They will be able to ensure your business stays operational while the forklift is repaired.

Also, your annual services are covered by your payments – so you won’t need to think about the cost of keeping the forklift working reliably. Consumables are usually not covered, so costs such as fuel and tyres will still need to be accounted for. Those services will be scheduled on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about missing them.

The drawbacks

You may find that you’ll get better rates with other forms of leasing. The reason for this is that as there is no contract and very little notice period, it’s considered more of a liability. As with all things, that means the cost has to go up. You might consider this an acceptable investment for improved convenience, but it’s something to consider.

You also probably won’t get a brand new forklift via long term casual hire. Newer machines are usually earmarked for more rigid contracts. The forklift you get will be serviced thoroughly and comprehensively checked to make sure it’s fit for purpose before you take delivery, just know it’s likely to be used.

Lease purchase

order picker forklift

Lease purchase involves you ultimately purchasing the forklift, however, you’re paying for it in instalments. It’s important to be aware from the outset, that if you choose the lease purchase option that you’ll not benefit from any maintenance or servicing cover of any kind as a part of the package – so the running costs are all on you.

Lease purchase is not going to be the right option for everyone, however, if you want to actually own the forklift without needing to pay the whole cost up front, it may be your best option.

The positives

Lease purchase can offer you much more favourable rates of repayment compared to other forms of leasing. The reason for this is when you lease purchase, you’re paying for the forklift itself and nothing else. There’s no ongoing maintenance or repair work to cover, so the monthly price will just be the forklift and interest.

You also get a much wider selection of options as to the forklift you want. Whether it’s brand new or slightly used, the choice is yours. You can easily spread the cost of purchasing it over a time period that suits you – generally anywhere from three to seven years. This means it’s more accessible for smaller businesses as a path to forklift ownership.

And, of course, you get to own the forklift at the end of your repayment term. When you make your final payment, the forklift will be officially yours and you can do with it what you please. If you take care of the forklift well, for the rest of the forklift’s usable life you’ll only have to consider ongoing maintenance, fuel, and consumables.

The drawbacks

Lease purchase will not cover any maintenances, servicing, or breakdown cover. You can generally purchase warranties and additional breakdown cover, but they’ll be extra costs for you rather than included as a part of your lease payment. You’re paying for the forklift and nothing more – so if it’s costly to maintain, you’ll be liable for those bills.

You’ll also be committed to your contract, so think long and hard before taking out a lease on a forklift. Think about if you’re going to be able to comfortably manage the repayments over the course of the lease term. If you fall behind, the vehicle will almost certainly be repossessed and you could end up with a negative credit rating for your business.

You’re also choosing one forklift per lease, so make sure you choose wisely. That forklift is then the one you have until the period of the lease is up and the machine is paid for. If your needs change and your forklift no longer matches them for any reason, there’s nothing you can do about it other than take out a fresh lease.

It’s also important to remember that you’ll be subject to approval. So, terms and conditions will apply and you will have to be able to comply with all the pre-requirements for approval. You’ll need a good financial history, and be able to provide proof of consistent financial buoyancy over a period of time – this makes it an impractical option for new businesses.

Contract hire

Rise in demand for forklift operators

Contract hire can be thought of as a bridge between hiring and lease purchase. There is a more concrete contract drawn up, which you’ll be bound to, however, at the end of the contract’s term, you will not own the forklift. This has both its advantages and its disadvantages, depending on your requirements.

Maintenance, servicing, and breakdowns will generally be provided for as a part of your contract payments. The same exceptions will likely apply as long term casual hire, however – customer damage and consumables such as tyres, forks, and windscreens if they’re fitted.

The advantages

Firstly you’ll be able to get access to very generous rates, because you’re entering a secured contract so you’re going to be considered less of a liability. This means that the repayments should generally be lower. As there is a flat repayment charge, it makes it much easier for your business to budget accurately going forward.

You’ll get access to a full backup service and support, to keep your business operating efficiently even if the forklift stops working. The specifics will depend on the contract, but this may include rapid-repairs, or providing you access to another forklift that you can use while yours is being repaired.

Your annual services and many ongoing maintenance costs will be covered as a part of your repayments, which means you won’t have to worry about being liable for any larger mechanical bills that might arise. You will have to cover consumables such as tyres and forks, and in the event that the forklift is damaged by a customer.

The drawbacks

You will be committed to your contract for its full duration. So you should make sure your business is financially healthy, and that you project you’ll be able to comfortably make your payments until the term is over. If you default on your repayments, you could lose the forklift and be prevented from leasing equipment or getting access to finance in the future.

You will also not be able to alter your vehicle if your needs change. If you need a bigger forklift, you won’t be able to “swap” it under the same contract. When you’re choosing your forklift, it makes sense to invest a little more upfront to make sure you get a machine that will be able to handle your projected growth over the next few years.

You’ll also need to be positive you’re able to successfully meet the lender’s criteria to be approved for the financing. This means being able to satisfy any proof they may need about your current situation or your financial history. Also, bear in mind that you will not own the forklift – when the contract ends, it will be returned.

Get in touch

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Hiremech today if you require more professional advice about the right forklift leasing options for your business.

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How online shopping is driving demand for forklifts

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Online shoppers are increasingly demanding fast delivery times and goods delivered to their doorsteps within hours of tapping to confirm a purchase on a smartphone. That means more and more loads need to be handled quickly and by fewer people, and inside the warehouses where these products are stored and picked, there is a surge in demand for electric-powered forklifts to move goods quickly and the people who operate them.

We now live in a world where we can click a button and have something delivered to our door in a matter of hours. Fast delivery is just part of the picture and customers also expect to be able to return goods quickly and easily which also adds to the demand for materials handling equipment. Distribution centres rely on forklifts to fulfil growing domestic and international demand, and all of this is being fuelled by online shopping trends. The fast turnover of warehouse stock is driving investment in forklift trucks across the UK and in all manner of sectors.

 

A changing supply chain

High street stores and shopping outlets used to be the distribution centres for almost every consumer product you could think of. The rise of online shopping is increasingly bypassing the need for bricks and mortar stores and the way in which consumers are now demanding ever-increasing choices when browsing for products means that retailers must now stock more products than they could ever fit into a traditional store. This has shifted the way in which supply chains are designed and pushed stock holding out into massive warehouses and distribution centres situated close to major transport links and population centres.

All of the things we buy online – and in ever greater numbers – need to be stored, packed, picked and posted to the end customer. So there is a much greater onus upon warehouse efficiency and productivity to move goods faster than ever, and in a way which reduces energy consumption. If you take a look around your house and consider a raft of recent purchases you have made, almost all of them will have been touched by a forklift at some point during their journey to your home. And all this will have been done with precision and speed, not to mention efficiency.

 

Forklifts that meet the need for flexibility

 

Continued growth in the online retail market then means that shorter delivery and return times are now a feature of everyday life. This is driving a need for scalability to meet seasonal and unexpected sales peaks and means that flexibility is required in every aspect of warehouse operations, including the deployment of forklifts. Space within warehouses is crucial to store more and more products meaning aisles have become narrower and stock needs to be stored at height.

Tighter spaces within distribution centres have meant an increase in demand for the likes of flexi and narrow aisle forklift trucks. Flexi and narrow aisle forklifts are specially designed to work in confined spaces and are particularly manoeuvrable meaning they can seriously boost productivity and the usable space within a warehouse.

The demand for warehouse real estate has never been higher. This is being driven by the continued boom in ecommerce and indeed changes to supply chains, so many companies are opting to reconfigure the space they already possess. This makes the need for flexible forklifts which can work efficiently in smaller spaces all the more important and is changing the way forklifts are used in these centres.

The growing need for forklift efficiency

 

Efficiently moving crates and pallets around massive warehouses is now more than ever critical to a retailer’s business planning. Retail margins are slim and shipping costs ever increasing, for example as offers of free or one-hour delivery continue to rise in popularity. Such delivery options are increasingly used to gain a competitive edge. This means that companies are constantly striving to take costs out of the supply chain.

Forklifts must be more efficient to run than ever before to boost productivity. This can be achieved by maximising energy efficiency and by ensuring forklifts are more productive and more flexible in the operations that they can perform. Enabling trucks and operators to reach goods in narrow aisles and at height maximises the amount of storage available and so increases efficiency within the supply chain. Smaller, and more agile and capable forklifts are in high demand because of these demands.

 

Inside the warehouse

Inside the warehouse

The likes of Amazon fulfil customer orders with rigorous speed and efficiency from the point of order to final delivery. Inside the warehouse, the process begins with a delivery truck being unloaded by an electric forklift. Once the goods are unloaded, each item is scanned and moved once more by a forklift to designated storage bays.

Pickers are then employed to retrieve goods in order to fulfil customer orders and are moved by a forklift to conveyors which transport items to the packing area. Once the goods are packed, a forklift will scoop up the shipments and move them towards trucking bays where they are loaded and ready for delivery. Computers keep track of every item and today’s customers increasingly expect to be able to track their order in real time.

 

Improvements in battery technology

 

Just as electric vehicles which take to the roads have benefited enormously from advances in battery technology in the last few years, electric forklifts are now able to operate for far longer on a single charge.

It was only recently that indoor materials handling equipment needed to be powered by large, heavy batteries that required frequent recharging. Now electric forklift trucks are an essential feature of the modern warehouse, both to meet regulatory clean air requirements and provide an optimal solution for moving goods from an efficiency and cost perspective.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries allow forklifts to run two to three times longer than previous batteries. Trucks are increasingly being fitted with telematics equipment enabling operators and planners to monitor the vehicle’s performance and movements in real time and adjust settings or perform on-the-spot maintenance as required.

Recent efficiency improvements in electric forklifts now mean they can be operated without surrendering any of the performance of each unit. Technological advances have also improved the durability of electric forklifts which makes them a much sounder business investment than in the past.

 

Rise in demand for forklift operators

Rise in demand for forklift operators

 

Rapid order turnarounds have created a surge in demand for skilled and experienced forklift operators. Forklift drivers are a crucial element within any supply chain. If forklifts are in demand then so too are the people required to operate them. Operating a forklift requires a high level of skill and aptitude. Driving a forklift is not an easy job and differs markedly from other roles within a warehouse.

Training for such operators must be thorough to ensure health and safety requirements are met and to enable goods to be handled quickly and with precision. Some firms have begun trialling Virtual Reality technologies as a way to quickly and effectively train forklift drivers. The training can be done anywhere where there is an internet connection meaning employees don’t have to travel to training centres or join a waiting list for in-demand training.

Technology continues to change the way forklifts are used. Barcode scanners and data gathering on the movement of goods ensures information flows throughout the supply chain. Logistics and materials handling has never been more crucial in today’s fast-moving, online retail world. That means that the forklift, and the people who drive them, have never been more in important or in more demand.

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Different types of forklifts – The Ultimate Guide

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Different types of forklifts - The Ultimate Guide

Forklifts are powerful vehicles designed to move heavy loads around warehouses and construction sites. The wide variety of models can make it difficult to choose which forklift to rent or buy, so we have put together this useful guide to take you through the most popular forklifts available. By providing you with an overview of the machines available, we will help you decide which forklift suits your requirements.

 

1) Warehouse Forklift

Gas forklifts

 

The warehouse forklift is one of the most common types of lifting machinery. The compact design features extending twin forks to the front, making it a popular choice for warehouses with a large inventory. The forklifts are designed to easily move balanced materials and pallets, as well as unloading and loading items into delivery vehicles.

2) Side Loader

A side loader is a subtype of the warehouse forklift category. They are most commonly found in manufacturing environments with large and heavy items.

There are two main variations available, an enclosed cab for outdoor use and the more common stand-up version for indoor use. The sideways operation is designed so the operator stands in a compartment which allows the loader to unload or load objects on its side. There is also a multi-way version available with each wheel designed to rotate by 90°, this allows easy transportation of a load in any direction.

This design enables the forklift to drive alongside racking to load or unload, without having to turn in the tight space. Side loaders are suitable for units with narrow aisles such as those holding timber, steel or pipes. Their ability to carry long and heavy loads within narrow aisles makes them a popular choice for a number of industries.

 

3) Counterbalance Forklift

Eletric

Industrial counterbalance forklifts are the most common option for indoor warehouses, although their versatile design also allows them to work outdoors on stable surfaces. The counterbalance forklift features dual forks to the front and a weight to the rear, which is designed to counterbalance the load weight. Unlike some machines, the counterbalance forklifts do not have extending arms, this gives the forklift the ability to position itself directly against the load.

There are a few different counterbalance designs, such as the 3-wheel variant which allows the machine to turn in a circle and the stand-up machines which make it easier for operators to climb in and out between loads. Although diesel and gas machines are available, the 3-wheel designs are almost all electric. These electric machines incorporate an economical motor, which increases productivity while offering relatively low costs of operation.

4) Telehandler

The telehandler is also known as a reach forklift or telescopic forklift. It is designed with a boom and extendable arm, which allows the machine to function as both a crane and a forklift. Their single telescopic boom means these machines are much more powerful and versatile than standard forklifts.

They are popular in many situations because of the wide range of available attachments, such as lift tables, buckets, muck grabbers and pallet forks. This versatility ensures the telehandler is able to reach into very tight spaces at awkward angles, where a normal forklift would not reach.

They are ideal for use within agriculture, or any industry which requires large loads to be moved. Their flexibility means they have started to replace rough terrain forklifts on many construction sites.

5) Industrial Forklift

 

The industrial forklift is a large capacity machine which provides a traditional warehouse style forklift with some of the abilities of a telehandler. Although it is unable to reach all the angles provided by a telehandler, it can lift heavier loads much higher than standard warehouse forklifts. They are also designed to be much narrower than telehandlers and warehouse forklifts.

 

6) Rough Terrain Forklift

A rough terrain forklift is designed for specific outdoor use on rugged and uneven surfaces. The trucks feature a counterbalance to the rear which prevents overbalancing while ensuring the machine can be easily driven in mud, snow or ice. They are common machines on construction sites, where their heavy lift capacities are particularly useful. They have a high load capacity of 16,000kg, although the Kalmer forklift can lift an impressive 90,000kg.

The trucks feature strong pneumatic tyres which enable them to navigate difficult terrains. The oversized inflatable tyres with thicker threads provide improved balance and stability, allowing materials to be safely transported across difficult sites. They also have a powerful engine so the machine can reach higher speeds with improved manoeuvrability.

 

7) Pallet Jacks

Pallet

 

Pallet jacks are also known as pump trucks, and their small design is not capable of lifting large loads. Instead, the specialised design has a very small footprint which ensures it fits into tight spaces. Although there is a sacrifice in power, the low cost of the pallet jacks makes them an ideal option for smaller spaces. There is a wide range of pallet jacks available, including low profile machines, all-terrain jacks, long and short forked and those with narrow or wide fork spreads.

They are commonly used in storage facilities and warehouses to enable operators to move pallets quickly and easily. They feature a set of forks which slide beneath a pallet, and the operator then pumps the handle to lift these forks from the ground. There are front wheels positioned below the forks which are then vertically separated as the pallet is raised. Although, if you are looking for a more efficient option, there are powered options available, which improve the speed and handling of taller stacks of pallets.

 

8) Stackers

Stackers are specifically designed for small spaces and work in a similar way to pallet jacks, although they are able to reach much higher. There are many types available which are all designed for specific uses including wrap over stackers, powered stackers and electric straddle stackers.

They are usually electrically powered and are designed to allow the worker to walk behind the machine. The machine is then steered into position using a convenient handle. The compact chassis and controlled handling make them ideal for many applications, including order picking, vehicle loading, block stacking and transporting pallets.

9) Order Picker

order picker forklift

 

An order picker is similar to a stacker, as it is also used to pick and deliver items within storage areas. A standard order picker is designed to reach heights of 32ft, which is ideal for lifting people to the top of warehouse racks. As modern businesses aim to lower their distribution costs, these are increasing in popularity thanks to their ability to efficiently pick items at great heights.

The design makes them ideal for warehouses and storage facilities which hold customers’ orders. They are electrically powered and lift the operator on an elevated driver platform. This allows one or two items to be lifted rather than a full load or pallet.

10) Reach Fork Truck

Reach Forklifts

This forklift is mainly used indoors within warehouses, as their low clearance levels mean they would struggle outdoors. The reach fork trucks feature extendable forks which can reach into the racking, unlike standard forklifts which do not extend beyond the compartment.

Their extended reach height and space-saving design is ideal for any warehouses which use high rise pallet racking within narrow aisles. The trunk of the machine will shorten itself by pulling the load in towards the vehicle, to improve stability and manoeuvrability to allow these machines to safely lift up to 2,500kg.

11) Electric and Utility Vehicles

There are many types of electric and utility vehicles available, which make it possible to complete a variety of tasks. Whether you need to move items to a new facility or just across a warehouse, their versatility and low running costs are making them a popular choice for many sites. There are a variety of options available which are ideal for both industrial and agricultural applications.

 

Indoor or Outdoor Forklifts

If you plan on using the machine indoors, an electric forklift will be the best option. These are powered by batteries and are designed to provide enough power to cover a standard-length shift. Their environmentally friendly design is cheaper to run, and they are very quiet when compared to other forklifts.

Outdoor forklifts tend to be either gas or diesel powered. The gas forklifts are designed to run using gas canisters, which makes them quick and simple to refuel. Although they are cheaper to purchase than an electric forklift, gas is an expensive fuel and will require appropriate storage. A gas forklift can be used for short periods indoors if the area is well-ventilated.

Alternatively, diesel forklifts provide another low-cost option which is also quick and simple to refuel. These machines cannot be used indoors due to their emissions, instead, they are designed for tough outdoor terrain. They are commonly used in environments where large heavy loads need transporting, although they can also be used for towing and pushing.

There are several types of forklifts available, which vary in terms of their lift capacity, dimensions, fuel type, tyres and reach. To help you decide which forklift is best for your site, you will need to consider factors such as the capacity required, the access to the site and the terrain. By considering every aspect, you will be able to decide which forklift will perform efficiently and safely.

We are proud to have more than twenty years’ experience providing forklifts and are committed to offering our customers a personalised service. Our team will discuss your specific requirements and budget so that we can supply the right forklift for your task. To find out more about the wide range of forklifts which we have for sale or rent, please contact our experienced team.

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Common Questions about Forklifts

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Questions about Forklifts

Can electric forklifts be used in the rain?

It depends on whether the forklift has been designed and built for outdoor use. In Europe, forklifts are given an IP (International Protection Marketing) code, which indicates the degree of protection they have from solid matter and liquid penetration. There is also a third IP category, indicating resistance to mechanical impact. The higher the second figure – liquid penetration – the greater the protection the forklift has. A number of 5 or higher for the liquid penetration part of the IP code (for example IP 65) usually indicates that the vehicle is able to be safely used outside.

Are forklifts road tax exempt?

If the forklift purely operates indoors or 100% on private ground, then it does not need to be registered for road tax. However, if a forklift operates on public roads, even if it is just fleetingly (for example moving goods from the warehouse to a waiting truck which is parked on a public road, or crossing a public road from one industrial building to another), then it needs to be registered with the DVLA and the appropriate amount of tax for a “work truck” needs to be paid. Forklifts powered by electricity will not need to be taxed (electrically powered vehicles are tax exempt), but will need to be registered with the DVLA if they operate on public roads.

What do forklifts lift?

Provided the goods are securely stored on a pallet, forklifts can lift just about anything! Forklifts are designed to lift goods on pallets, as the forks slide between the two faces of the pallet, making the load less likely to slip off. With the right attachment, forklifts can also lift other goods. The range of goods which a forklift can lift also depends on what functions the forklift has. In addition to vertical lifting (where weight has a critical influence on function), modern forklifts can also shuttle goods, tow and move a considerable distance. These increased capabilities further widen the range of materials and items that can be successfully transported by a forklift. There are now a number of different types of forklift on the market which have been specifically designed and modified to fulfil specific lifting functions.

How much do forklifts weigh?

The weight of a forklift depends on what type it is. Obviously the greater the load a forklift is expected to lift, the larger its counterweight will be and the more it will weigh. The smallest, lightweight forklifts (three wheeled forklifts) can lift around 2500kg. This means their weight is going to be somewhere between 1.5 or 2 times the lifting weight (so around 5000kg). In comparison, larger, rugged forklifts that can lift loads of around 16,000kg will weigh somewhere between 25,000kg and 32,000kg.

Why do forklifts have blue lights?

Blue lights are placed on forklifts to increase their visibility. It’s long been recognised that there needs to be some sort of warning system in place so that other forklift drivers and pedestrians can get advance warning that the forklift is there. Horns and more intrusive methods proved to be irritating to those working nearby – nobody wants to listen to an intermittent horn for an eight-hour shift! Blue lights offer the perfect solution: noticeable enough to act as an effective warning, they are also unobtrusive enough not to disturb other workers unduly.

What are forklifts used for?

Forklifts are primarily used for moving goods from one place to another. They frequently operate within warehouses, but can also be found anywhere that goods are received or dispatched. Other common locations include docks and in industry. As well as being able to lift pre-packaged goods on pallets, there are a breed of forklifts which can be used to lift raw materials outdoors. These are frequently used in primary industries such as oil production, forestry and agriculture.

When were forklifts invented?

Early forms of forklifts existed way back in the second half of the 19th century, when manually powered lifting platforms began to replace a traditional block and tackle. By the early 20th century, equipment was being developed that could move goods from a to b, using an internal combustion engine. WW1 spurred greater attention to the development of mechanised lifting, resulting in the development of a greater variety of lifting equipment. The forklift as we know it became popularised during WW2, when it played an increasingly large role in industry as well as the war effort. During the ’50s, the invention of a forklift which was capable of going down narrow warehouse aisles greatly increased the number of applications the vehicle could be put to. In later decades, focus shifted to improving the safety of the forklift. Modern forklift advances include conversion to run efficiently on renewable energy.

Do forklifts need an MOT?

Yes! Although it’s not an MOT as such, each forklift is required to pass a Thorough Examination (TE) to ensure that it’s safe to use. A Thorough Examination is required by law, whether or not the forklift is used on public roads. The Thorough Examination can only legally be carried out by licensed companies and appropriately qualified individuals. Like an MOT but far more rigorous, the Thorough Examination is intended to ensure forklift vehicles are safe to operate.

The Thorough Examination includes inspection and testing of the main parts of the forklift which affect safety, including brakes, tyres, steering and driver safety mechanisms. It should be remembered that the Thorough Examination is not a substitute for regular inspection and maintenance. Obviously TE only assesses the safety of the forklift at that time. Scheduled inspections, including a daily check of the vehicle, are essential if safety levels are to be maintained and the chances of malfunction minimised.

How much can a forklift lift?

The amount that a forklift can lift is largely determined by how heavy it is. Forklifts usually weigh somewhere between 1.5 and twice the weight of the amount they are lifting. They need to be heavy in order to apply the appropriate counterweight to their load, preventing the vehicle from tipping. Smaller forklifts can lift up to around 2.5 metric tonnes; some of the larger, more robust outdoor forklifts can lift up to 16 metric tonnes. Specialist forklifts can lift more, but these are uncommon, as most industrial applications can be achieved satisfactorily with a smaller vehicle. The largest forklift ever built was manufactured by Wiggins in the US. The Marina Bull, named Colossus, weighed 220,000 lbs (nearly 100,000kg) and was designed to lift boats! The mast is just over 15m high and is recognised as the largest marina forklift in the world!

Do you need a special licence to operate a forklift?

A driving licence isn’t required to operate a forklift, but appropriate training and certification is vital for safe operation. Training should be provided by an organisation whose courses are accredited by one of the recognised institutions such as ITSAAR, RTITB, ALLMI or AITT. Different certification is required depending on the type of forklift to be driven. For example, different training is needed for a counterbalance truck in comparison with a reach truck. Additional training is also needed if the forklift is going to be driven on a public road, even if only briefly. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that drivers are appropriately trained.

Can diabetics drive forklifts?

The short answer is that it depends on the extent to which diabetes affects the driver’s ability to perform the job. Type I or II diabetes in and of itself isn’t any barrier to driving a forklift – it would actually breach the Equality Act 2010 if an employer refused employment simply because of a pre-existing medical condition. That said, it is vital that diabetes doesn’t affect the employee’s ability to do the job. For example, drivers need to have good eyesight in order to be able to operate the forklift safely and accurately: badly controlled diabetes can cause eye damage, which if severe enough could prevent an individual driving a forklift. Similarly, forklift drivers need to be mobile enough to easily get in and out of the vehicle: if an individual has a foot ulcer or similar problem as a result of their diabetes, which impedes movement, then they would not be able to drive. The criteria to determine whether someone is fit enough to drive a forklift safely needs to be applied consistently to all drivers, irrespective of any pre-existing medical conditions.

Are there driverless forklifts?

Yes! Driverless forklifts are already used on some production lines in Europe, the US and the far east. They have the advantage of being much safer than manually operated forklifts, as there is no chance of driver error. In addition, the fact that they are used within an automated environment ensures other workers aren’t at risk from forklift activity. The forklifts are programmed to perform a specific set of movements, which they then do repeatedly as part of the production process. Not only are they much safer, but driverless forklifts (also known as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) can keep operating ceaselessly. Unlike a humanly operated machine, AGVs only need to stop for refuelling or essential maintenance. In a manufacturing environment or the 24/7 warehouse environment, AGVs can provide greater efficiency and output than a manually operated forklift. The major downside of driverless forklifts is that they don’t respond well to sudden requests or fast changes in operating schedules. Unlike a manually operated forklift, where a human can respond almost instantly, AGVs need to be reprogrammed to accommodate change, which can take some time.

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Hiremech acquired by Briggs Equipment 

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Hiremech

As part of its growth strategy, Briggs Equipment has executed a purchase agreement to acquire Hiremech enhancing its coverage and strengthening its presence in London and the South East. 

We will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Briggs and will continue to trade under our own name with all current operational contacts remaining in place.  Following completion of the acquisition, we will represent the Hyster and Utilev brands of fork lift trucks as well as having access to Hako and JLG equipment.  Briggs recognises that we have produced consistent revenue and profit growth in recent years and believes that through being part of the Briggs group, we can achieve superior growth and fulfil our potential going forward.

Peter Jones, Group Managing Director of Briggs Equipment commented, “We are delighted to be able to make this announcement and to welcome the team at Hiremech on-board.  The acquisition allows us to lay strong foundations for the future of both businesses.  Bringing together two customer-centric companies to share knowledge and expertise will help us continue to enhance our proposition and further differentiate the Briggs’ offering.”

Paul Green, Managing Director of Hiremech added, “The acquisition of Hiremech by Briggs is great news for our loyal employees and customers. This will mean we can continue to strengthen our position in the local market through the support and benefits that come from being part of a national business.

“We expect that our existing customer base will benefit from greater flexibility in financing, a wider choice of machines on long term rental and access to an extremely diverse range of equipment from Briggs’ Short Term Hire fleet.”

“We look forward to representing a strong brand in Hyster, and an even broader portfolio of complementary products.”

For more information on Briggs Equipment visit www.briggsequipment.co.uk.

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Skyjack Scissor Lifts – The Ultimate Guide

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Skyjack have been manufacturing scissor lift work platforms for over 30 years and have developed a reputation for building robust, rugged and reliable machinery which can be used in a wide variety of environments.

The company built their foundation upon scissor lifts and their equipment is used across the globe. Still pioneering in the market, Skyjack continue to diversify their products to deliver the very best in scissor lifts and materials handling equipment.

Skyjack are the market leader in scissor lifts and electric scissor lifts. The DC electric range boasts units suitable for both indoor and outdoor working. Heights range from 5.8m to 12m and all of the lifts come with robust drive mechanisms allowing you to get to almost any location on site in a safe manner. Each lift offers self-levelling decks and legs and the DC powered electric motors produce no harmful fumes.

Skyjack Scissor Lifts - The Ultimate Guide

What is a scissor lift?

Scissor lifts, sometimes known as aerial platforms, are designed to transport and raise personnel, materials and tools. Sometimes ladders and other means of accessing materials and stocks up high just can’t get the job done or are too dangerous.

Aerial lifts, such as scissor lifts, have secure platforms and high extensions meaning you can get to heights safely and easily. An electric scissor lift is an efficient, affordable and economic means of solving your need to work at height.

How to choose an aerial lift

There are a variety of lifts which can get the job done but you need to ensure you choose an option which maximises safety in a cost-effective manner. Before choosing which method which can best meet your requirements, it pays to consider what lifts are available and give some thought to the safety and cost considerations involved.

There are two main solutions to working at height. Boom lifts have extending arms with baskets on the end. Sometimes they’re known as “cherry pickers”. They tend to come with joints and hinges that allow flexibility. Scissor lifts have stable and wide base platforms that can move personnel and heavy materials. Scissor lifts have a basket which is usually surrounded by railings or a cage.

Before choosing a scissor lift, you will need to consider the model which will most effectively perform the function that you need to perform. You will need to consider the maximum height you need to be able to reach, the weight capacity you will need and of course give some consideration to the budget available. You will also need to factor in what training staff will need to use the equipment safely.

Hiremech have multiple options available if you are looking for a electric scissor lift for sale or a Skyjack scissor lift for sale.

Skyjack’s updated electric range

Skyjack have applied the control system technology which they pioneered in their range of mast lifts to each unit in the DC electric range to increase controllability and reduce operational noise levels. The range now offers reduced charging time and significantly improved battery life to reduce energy consumption levels and carbon footprint.

Features of Skyjack scissor lifts

Each unit in the Skyjack scissor lift range is constructed from steel to produce strong and reliable models. Skyjack have always prided themselves on producing machines with ease of service and readily accessible components in mind. This alone makes the range stand out from its competitors.

The range is notable for its commonality of functions and parts, meaning owning more than one unit is no headache in terms of servicing and maintenance. There are few scissor lifts which can rival the Skyjack range for its low lifecycle costs.

Closer control

Skyjack introduced a motor controller device into their electric DC scissor lift range in 2014, having successfully used the technology in their line of vertical mast lifts for many years. The control device manages the DC electric motor that drives the scissor platform. This delivers only the power required to complete each requested operation to improve performance.

The motor controller lowers energy consumption and extends battery life. Because the control device manages the flow of power, motor output is no longer set to a predetermined maximum and the machines benefit from lower noise levels.

Above all else, the technology enables the lifts to enjoy an enhanced level of manoeuvrability. The power delivery control enables enhanced steering settings which are particularly useful in confined spaces. Fast and safe travel speeds are also a core feature of the range.

Standard features

All models in the DC electric range come with a host of standard features. Each lift is driveable at full height and each comes with a variable speed control. All models are fitted with dual holding brakes for safety purposes and models come equipped with either front or rear wheel drive.

Each lift in the range comes with an operator horn and a relay-based control system with a colour coded and numbered wiring system. Skyjack products come in the company’s bold orange livery which makes them easily recognisable and visible in a working environment.

Options in the range

The Skyjack electric scissor lift range is notable for the options available and the ease with which it is possible to identify just the right model to meet your requirements.

Skyjack’s SJIII 4626 and SJ4632 DC electric scissor lifts offer large platform areas and a high capacity. This makes them suitable for most applications. These models offer variable speed rear wheel hydraulic drive and working heights of up to 11.75m. Extension decks can be secured in a variety of positions and both units can be driven at full height.

Both of these models are fitted with disc brakes, solid rubber non-marking tyres and a pothole protection system. The units come with a variety of safety equipment fitted, including tilt alarms and lift cut-out features, an overload sensing system and a lowering warning system. Additional options can be added to suit your requirements.

The Skyjack SJ3219 electric scissor lift is a compact model that can reach 7.8m in height. This unit is powered by a variable front wheel hydraulic drive system with 90-degree steering to enable manoeuvring in small spaces. This model offers a 0.9m roll out extension deck.

The Skyjack SJ3215 is the smallest of Skyjack’s DC Electric range and offers a maximum platform height of 15ft. This model is equipped with variable front wheel hydraulic drive and a 90-degree steering capability. The SJ3215 is just 0.81m wide which enables it to be stored easily when not in use and means it really is able to manoeuvre in the tightest of confines.

Skyjack’s SJ3220 model is the lightest machine in its class and features variable speed rear wheel hydraulic drive with an 8.1m working height. This unit features a standard 0.9m roll out extension deck. The SJ3220 is notable for its ability to access through standard doorways.

The SJ3226 model is the larger of Skyjack’s Conventional Series in the DC Electric range and provides a maximum working height of 9.9m. Again, this machine can fit through standard doorways and comes with a 0.9m roll out extension deck.

A brief guide to using your Skyjack Electric DC scissor lift

Each Skyjack Electric DC Scissor lift is fitted with a base control console and a platform control console to enable operation either inside or outside of the machine. The base control console is located at the rear of the machine and can be used to lower or raise the platform. The platform control console can be used to operate drive, lifting and lowering. Each console has an emergency stop button fitted.

A tilt alarm sounds when the system senses that the aerial platform is outside of level in any direction. When the system triggers, driving is disabled and lift functions cease operation. An audible sound alerts the user to the danger and an amber light flashes.

Each machine is equipped with an emergency lowering system which allows the platform to be lowered in the event of an emergency or electrical system failure. There are two drive modes available on each model – for driving on level or inclined ground.

A full safety procedure should be outlined with personnel familiar with it. This should include steps to verify that the weight of materials, individuals and tools combined does not exceed the platform’s rated capability. You should always check the operator’s manual for load distribution requirements and a designated person should be available to operate ground controls should the original operator get into difficulty. Inspection and maintenance programmes should be agreed and implemented.

Accessorise and customise

Skyjack scissor lifts can be fitted with a range of accessories which enable you to customise your machine to suit whatever job you are using it for. Here are some example applications and add-ons.

Deck extensions offer the ability to increase the productivity of the lift by extending its ability to reach out to objects which might otherwise be inaccessible. Power options can be added to the platform such as self-contained airlines and generators.

Pipe racks can be fitted and are an ideal attachment for plumbers, electricians and other maintenance workers who may need to organise materials on the platform without limiting movement of the machine in tight spaces.

Panel carriers can be added for the likes of drywallers and panel installers. A glazier kit can be added which enables glass panes to be lifted safely. This piece of kit can support up to 210 lbs and comes with a pad tray, nylon strap and foam railings.

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Forklift fails 2018

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The best of 2018’s forklift fails.

As long as there are forklifts, there will be fails. Just when the work day seems it couldn’t get worse, there’s someone with a camera phone or a CCTV camera poised to capture the action. Here are some of the best of 2018’s forklift fails.

It’s raining boxes

Using a forklift to get precariously stacked pallets from a great height always runs the risk of ending in tears – as this unfortunate driver found out. Rather than lowering the pallet to the ground, he ends up relying on the roof of his cab to protect him from the shower of boxes. All of this, of course, in front of the less than sympathetic audience of his workmates. It just goes to show you should keep a very close eye on your pallets – if it’s poorly stacked, leave it alone.

That sounded expensive

Running once more along the theme of goods falling from great heights, this was never going to end well. First, there’s the surge of movement – when carrying heavy goods you’ve always got to remember that momentum exists. Then it seems that the load was not properly secured, which combined with the movement caused it to break free and tumble to the ground with a big smash. Take a couple of extra moments to make sure you’ve got a firm hold on the load that you’re carrying, then be gentle with the throttle, and you’ll avoid this sort of fail.

Hitting the wine

In this clip, we see a, rather obviously embarrassed, forklift driver in the middle of a flood of red wine. He’s forgotten that forklift prongs can be sharp, and has pierced one of the wine vats. This has resulted in a very expensive red river flowing through the floor of the facility. Avoiding this sort of fail is actually very easy – all you need to do is look where you’re going. If you’re distracted or not concentrating on what you’re doing, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to fail as spectacularly as this.

What were they thinking?

Here we see a large forklift raising a small forklift, which in turn raises a load in order to try and access a second storey opening of a building. It looks like they might just get away with it before the load loses its balance and goes tumbling back to the floor. It would be insulting to professionally trained forklift drivers, or anyone with common sense, to highlight everything wrong with this video. Suffice to say – keep the forklift’s four wheels on the ground and you’ve already avoided this kind of idiotic fail.

Those boxes again

Though tamer than the last video, it’s still a fail. Here we see a driver obviously struggling with a poorly loaded pallet, which somewhat unsurprisingly ends up tumbling over after overbalancing. Packing a pallet is actually very straightforward – even distribution of weight, similar size items, don’t overload it. That’s all you need to remember. It’s only when people start to rush and don’t care about doing a job properly that forklift fails like this become inevitable.

It’s bathtime

In this clip, all looks well until the driver miscalculates the height of the load. He nudges the top container against the roof of the truck, causing it to tip its contents right back into the cab – giving him a rather thorough bath in the process. Two things will prevent this sort of accident. First, always pay extra attention when loading to make sure you’re not exceeding height limits. And second, if you’re going to be transporting liquid, then do so in sealed, watertight containers.

Narrow escape

In this clip, the forklift driver cuts it far too tight. He clearly knows his load is too wide for the available gap but pushes through anyway. This causes the entire facility’s shelving to collapse, from which he has a very lucky escape. Knowing the width of your load is essential – never be tempted to “squeeze it through”. If the load is too large and there’s no other way, tell your foreman or site manager. It’s up to them to provide you with a safe path for the load, otherwise, everything could come tumbling down. Literally.

Quality training helps – invest in it!

Human error, sadly, cannot be completely eradicated. But many forklift fails, as you’ve seen here, can be avoided with proper forklift operator training. Investing in training from experienced professionals, like those you’ll find at Hiremech, is essential.

Not only does it minimise the risk of potentially expensive damage to goods and machinery, but it also ensures all-important workplace safety. This applies to both forklift operators and all those around them. Hiremech can provide all of the forklift operator training required to ensure fails like these don’t happen.

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Preparing your forklift fleet for the Christmas period

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Preparing your forklift fleet for the busy Christmas period.

 

For warehouses and logistics firms, Christmas is usually the busiest time. That means there’s a lot of pressure to get jobs done on time. In that rush, however, safety and proper forklift operation can often fall by the wayside. This can result in accidents, damage, and delays – so it’s obviously much better to avoid it if possible.

A well-prepared forklift fleet will complete its work efficiently and effectively. This means everyone from management, to workers, to customers, are all happy.

It might seem like quite a bit of time and financial investment is required. With a little forethought and diligence, however, preparing your forklift fleet for the busy Christmas period is actually very simple.

Proper servicing and maintenance

Always bear in mind that your forklifts are going to be under extended pressure over the Christmas period. That means longer working hours and more stress on all of the components. If you’re hiring extra drivers to satisfy the demand it’s not unrealistic for forklifts to be running for 24 hours at a time.

You should already know that a thorough examination of the vehicle, in addition to mechanical servicing, is a legal requirement. That means it’s beyond essential that your forklift is in a usable and safe condition.

That’s the baseline – what changes at Christmas? Well, it’s obviously the middle of the winter. So, it’s cold. If the weather is anything from a bit nippy to downright freezing, your service requirements on your forklift are going to change from the norm. Preparing your forklift for winter encompasses a variety of different changes to normal servicing that you need to consider.

Cold weather has a habit of causing fluids to gum up in the lines of your forklift. This is particularly common for diesel and engine oil. If you don’t address this, it can firstly lead to the forklift being sluggish and unreliable, but ultimately it could cause severe engine damage. The fix is both easy and affordable – invest in some specialised winter fuel. This has additives to prevent it from gelling up in cold weather. Some forklifts, both diesel and electric, can be plugged in to keep them warm. So, check if any forklifts in your fleet have this function if you don’t know already.

Then you have to consider how the hydraulics system of your forklift is going to react to the cold weather. The cold can dramatically increase the stress your forklift is under, depending on the attachments you have it using. This means that through checks of both the hydraulics and the attachments should be daily. Without fail.

Tyres are highly important in winter – when conditions are slippy surface grip is at a premium. The added hustle and bustle of the Christmas period means that tyres are prone to wearing out faster. It’s important that your maintenance schedule accommodates this.

Winter driver training

The mechanical condition of your forklift fleet is moot if your drivers don’t understand how to properly operate the forklift during winter. Invest some time and money in providing your operators with specific instructions on best practice for safe winter driving.

Something else you can do to keep things running smoothly is not encouraging your operators to rush. When they have excessive deadlines to meet, operators can feel pressured into cutting corners. This means they end up driving too fast and not paying close enough attention to what they’re doing. Ultimately this is self-defeating because it inevitably ends up in an accident or damaged goods, so the time saved is wasted anyway.

Make sure that drivers take their time, particularly if they’re working outdoors. Snow, ice, and rain can all cause serious grip problems, even when the yard otherwise looks fine. Black ice will send a driver careening out of control faster than you can blink. The biggest enemy of safety at Christmas time is rushing – excess speed almost always results in an accident.

Also, make sure that all drivers are familiar with the specific winter checks required before they operate the forklift. This means checking all the fluids, checking the tires and the steering, checking the forklift attachments – this needs to be done every time before a driver gets behind the wheel. It doesn’t matter if a previous driver has just got out of the forklift, the new driver should check it.

There are also things operators should do every time they finish using the forklift. First, clean it down to wash away any salt or grime that could lead to corrosion. Then check all fluids and top off as needed for the next driver. If there is a plug-in option, it should be used to prevent the battery and engine from cooling down too much. Thoroughly check for any visible damage, and make sure if something is discovered that it’s reported to management immediately.

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