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Beginning of Forklift:
The middle nineteenth century through the early 20th century saw the developments to today’s modern forklifts. The forklift was developed in 20th century by various companies including clark which made transmissions, and Yale & Towne Manufacturing, which made hoists. Since from second world war, the use and development forklift truck have greatly expanded worldwide. The introduction of hydraulic power and the development of the first electric power forklifts, along with the use of standardized pallets in the late 1930s, helped to increase the popularity of forklift trucks.
The start of World War II, like World War I before, spurred the use of forklift trucks in the war effort. Following the war, more efficient methods for storing products in warehouses were being implemented. Warehouses needed more maneuverable forklift trucks that could reach greater heights and new forklift models were made that filled this need. During the year 1950 -1960, the operator safety becomes a concern due to increasing height and capacities.
In the late 1980s, ergonomic design began to be incorporated in new forklift designs to improve operator comfort, reduce injuries and increase productivity. During the 1990s, exhaust emissions from forklift operations began to be addressed which led to emission standards being implemented for forklift manufacturers in various countries. The introduction of AC power forklifts, along with fuel cell technology, are also refinements in continuing forklift development.
The maximum weight and a specified forward centre of gravity are rated for loads and should be located on a nameplate provided by the manufacturers, and loads must not exceed these specifications. It is illegal to remove or alter the nameplate provided by the manufacturer, and loads must not exceed these specifications.
An important aspect of forklift operation is that it must have rear-wheel steering. While this increases maneuverability in tight cornering situations, it differs from a driver’s traditional experience with other wheeled used vehicles. While steering, as there is no casteraction, it is unnecessary to apply steering force to maintain a constant rate of turn.
Instability is another critical characteristic of the forklift, the load and forklift must be considered a unit with a continually varying centre of gravity with every movement of the load.
Forklifts are a critical element of warehouses and distribution centers. It’s imperative that these structures be designed to accommodate their efficient and safe movement.
Forklifts Controls and Capabilities:
Forklift hydraulics are controlled either with levers directly manipulating the hydraulic valves or by electrically controlled actuators, using smaller “finger” levers for control. The latter allows forklift designers more freedom in ergonomic design. Forklift trucks are available in many variations and load capacities. In a typical warehouse setting, most forklifts have load capacities between one and five tons. Larger machines, up to 50 tons lift capacity, are used for lifting heavier loads, including loaded shipping container.
In addition to a control to raise and lower the forks the operator can tilt the mast to compensate for a load’s tendency to angle the blades toward the ground and risk slipping off the forks. Tilt also provides a limited ability to operate on non-level ground. Skilled forklift operators annually compete in obstacle and timed challenges at regional forklift rodeos.
Types of Forklifts according to design:
Hand Pallet Truck:
There is like any onboard power system, operators have to use their muscle power to moving loads and jack-up. Low lift truck walkie, Rider low lift truck, Walkie stacker, Rider stacker walkie order picking truck these are usually electrically powered.
These may have internal combustion engine or electrically powered.
These are also electrically powered, variant on a Rider stacker forklift, especially designed for small aisles and can extend to reach the load. There are two variants, moving carriage, which are common in North America, and moving mast which are common in the rest of the world, and generally regarded as safer.
Electric Counter Balanced Truck:
It is the most numerous, comes in stand and end control, stand on center control.
Internal Combustion Engine Powered Counterbalanced Forklift:
Comes in Stand on End Control, Stand on Center Control, and Sit Down Center Control, which is the most numerous. Engines may be diesel, kerosene, gasoline, natural gas, butane, or propane fueled, and may be either two-stroke spark ignition, four stroke spark ignition (common), two-stroke compression ignition, and four-stroke compression ignition (common).
Battery Electric Forklifts:
It is powered by lead-acid batteries or, increasingly, lithium-ion batteries, include: cushion tire forklifts, scissor lifts, order pickers, stackers, reach trucks and pallet jacks. Electric forklifts are primarily used indoors on flat, even surfaces. Batteries prevent the emission of harmful fumes and are recommended for indoor facilities, such as food-processing and healthcare sectors.
Fuel Cell Forklifts:
These forklifts are often used in refrigerated warehouses as their performance is not degraded by lower temperatures, as they produce no local emissions, and can be refueled in 3 minutes.
It may be electrically powered, or have an internal combustion engine, comes in stand on end control, and sit down end control,which is most numerous. Engines may be diesel, kerosene, gasoline, natural gas, butane or propane fueled, and may be either two-stroke spark ignition, four stroke spark ignition, two-stroke compression ignition and four- stroke compression ignition.
They also comes in Stand on Center Control, and Sit Down Center Control, which is the most numerous. Usually has an Internal Combustion Engine. Engines are almost always diesel, but sometimes operate on kerosene, and sometimes use propane injection as a power boost. Some Telescopic handlers have Hybrid drivetrains.
Rider Order Picking Truck:
It is commonly called an “Order Picker”; like a small Reach Truck, except the operator rides in a cage welded to the fork carriage, while wearing a specially designed safety harness to prevent falls. The operator transfers the load onto the pallet one article at a time by hand. This is an efficient way of picking less-than-pallet-load shipments and is popular for use in large distribution centres.
Articulated very narrow aisle Counterbalanced Trucks:
Sometimes they are called “Flexi or Bendi Trucks” . Comes in stand on center control, and sit down center control. Electric motors are most common, but may have internal combustion engine, may be diesel, kerosene, gasoline, natural gas, butane, or propane fueled, and may be either two-stroke spark ignition, four-stroke spark ignition (common), two-stroke compression ignition, and four-stroke compression ignition (common). Some units have hybrid drivetrains. Unlike standard counterbalance and reach forklifts. These forklifts are steered via the front swivel articulation of the forklift and are therefore much different to manoeuvre than regular forklifts and additionally have no pantograph feature for retrieving stock in narrow aisles.
Guided very narrow aisle Order Picking Truck:
Counterbalance type Order Picking Truck similar to the guided very narrow aisle truck, except that the operator and the controls which operate the machine are in a cage welded to the mast. The operator wears a restraint system to protect him against falls.
Truck-mounted Forklift / Sod Loader:
Comes in sit down center control. Usually has an internal combustion engine. Engines are almost always diesel, but sometimes operate on kerosene, and sometimes use propane injection as a power boost. Some old units are two-stroke compression ignition, mostare four-stroke compression ignition.
North American Engines come with advanced emission control systems. Forklifts built in countries such as Iran or Russia will typically have no emission control systems.
Forklifts Trucks or Speciality Trucks:
On the other end of the spectrum from the counterbalanced forklift trucks are more ‘high end’ speciality trucks.
Articulated Counterbalance Trucks : These are, unlike most lift trucks, front-wheel steer and are a hybrid VNA (very narrow aisle) truck designed to be both able to offload trailers and place the load in narrow aisle racking. Moreover, these trucks are able to compete in terms of pallet storage density, lift heights and pallet throughput with guided very narrow aisle trucks, while also being capable of loading trucks, which VNA units are incapable of doing.
Guided very narrow aisle Trucks : These are rail or wire guided and available with lift heights up to 40 feet non-top-tied and 98 feet top-tied. Two forms are available: ‘man-down’ and ‘man-riser’, where the operator elevates with the load for increased visibility or for multilevel ‘break bulk’ order picking. This type of truck, unlike articulated narrow aisle trucks, requires a high standard of floor flatness.
Omnidirectional Trucks : Omnidirectional technology (such as Mecanum wheels) can allow a forklift truck to move forward, diagonally and laterally, or in any direction on a surface. An omnidirectional wheel system is able to rotate the truck 360 degrees in its own footprint or strafe sideways without turning the truck cabin. One example is the Airtrax Sidewinder. This forklift truck has also made an appearance in the TV series called ‘Mythbusters’.
Automated Forklift Trucks : In order to decrease work wages, reduce operational cost and improve productivity, automated forklifts have also been developed. Automated forklifts are also called forked automated guided vehicles and are already available from a growing number of suppliers.
Counterbalanced Forklifts Components:
A typical counterbalanced forklift contains the following components:
Truck Frame: It is the base of the machine to which the mast, axles, wheels, counterweight, overhead guard and power source are attached. The frame may have fuel and hydraulic fluid tanks constructed as part of the frame assembly.
Counterweight: This is a mass attached to the rear of the forklift truck frame. The purpose of the counterweight is to counterbalance the load being lifted. In an electric forklift, the large battery may serve as part of the counterweight
Cab: This area that contains a seat for the operator along with the control pedals, steering wheel, levers, switch sand a dashboard containing operator readouts. The cab area may be open air or enclosed but it is covered by the cage-like overhead guard assembly. When enclosed, the cab may also be equipped with a cab heater for cold climate countries along with a fan or air conditioning for hot weather.
Overhead Guard: It is a metal roof supported by posts at each corner of the cab that helps protect the operator from any falling objects. On some forklifts, the overhead guard is an integrated part of the frame assembly.
Power Source: It may consist of an internal combustion engine that can be powered by LP gas, CNG, gasoline or diesel fuel. Electric forklifts are powered by either a battery or fuel cells that provides power to the electric motors. For warehouses and other indoor applications, electric forklifts have the advantage of not producing carbon monoxide.
Tilt Cylinders: are hydraulic cylinders that are mounted to the truck frame and the mast. The tilt cylinders pivot the mast backwards or forwards to assist in engaging a load.
Mast: is the vertical assembly that does the work of raising and lowering the load. It is made up of interlocking rails that also provide lateral stability. The interlocking rails may either have rollers or bushings as guides. The mast is driven hydraulically, and operated by one or more hydraulic cylinders directly or using chains from the cylinders. It may be mounted to the front axle or the frame of the forklift. A ‘container mast’ variation allows the forks to raise a few meters without increasing the total height of the forklift. This is useful when double-loading pallets into a container or under a mezzanine floor.
Carriage: is the component to which the forks or other attachments mount. It is mounted into and moves up and down the mast rails by means of chains or by being directly attached to the hydraulic cylinder. Like the mast, the carriage may have either rollers or bushings to guide it in the interlocking mast rails.
Load Backrest: is a rack-like extension that is either bolted or welded to the carriage in order to prevent the load from shifting backward when the carriage is lifted to full height.
Attachments: may consists of a mechanism which is attached to the carriage, either permanently or temporarily, to help in proper engagement of the load. A variety of material handling attachments are available. Some attachments include side shifters, slip sheet attachments, carton clamps, multipurpose clamps, rotators, fork positioners, carpet poles, pole handlers, container handlers and roll clamps.
Tires: either solid for indoor use, or pneumatic for outside use.
Below is a list of common forklift attachments
Dimensioning Devices : fork truck-mounted dimensioning systems provide dimensions for the cargo to facilitate truck trailer space utilization and to support warehouse automation systems. The systems normally communicate the dimensions via 802.11 radios. NTEP certified dimensioning devices are available to support commercial activities that bill based on volume.
Sideshifter: is a hydraulic attachment that allows the operator to move the tines (forks) and backrest laterally. This allows easier placement of a load without having to reposition the truck.
Rotator: To aid the handling of skids that may have become excessively tilted and other specialty material handling needs some forklifts are fitted with an attachment that allows the tines to be rotated. This type of attachment may also be used for dumping containers for quick unloading.
Fork Positioner: is a hydraulic attachment that moves the tines (forks) together or apart. This removes the need for the operator to manually adjust the tines (fork) for different sized loads.
Roll and barrel clamp attachment: A mechanical or hydraulic attachment used to squeeze the item to be moved. It is used for handling barrels, kegs, or paper rolls. This type of attachment may also have a rotate function. The rotate function would help an operator to insert a vertically stored paper into the horizontal intake of a printing press for example.
Pole Attachments: In some locations, such as carpet warehouses, a long metal pole is used instead of forks to lift carpet rolls. Similar devices, though much larger, are used to pick up metal coils.
Carton and multipurpose clamp attachments: are hydraulic attachments that allow the operator to open and close around a load, squeezing it to pick it up. Products like cartons, boxes and bales can be moved with this type of attachment. With these attachments in use, the forklift truck is sometimes referred to as a clamp truck.
Slip sheet attachment (push-pull): is a hydraulic attachment that reaches forward, clamps onto a slip sheet and draws the slip sheet onto wide and thin metal forks for transport. The attachment will push the slip sheet and load off the forks for placement.
Drum handler attachment: is a mechanical attachment that slides onto the tines (forks). It usually has a spring-loaded jaw that grips the top lip edge of a drum for transport. Another type grabs around the drum in a manner similar to the roll or barrel attachments.
Man Basket: a lift platform that slides onto the tines (forks) and is meant for hoisting workers. The man basket has railings to keep the person from falling and brackets for attaching a safety harness. Also, a strap or chain is used to attach the man basket to the carriage of the forklift.
Telescopic Forks: are hydraulic attachments that allow the operator to operate in warehouse design for “double-deep stacking”, which means that two pallet shelves are placed behind each other without any aisle between them.
Scales: Fork truck-mounted scales enable operators to efficiently weigh the pallets they handle without interrupting their workflow by travelling to a platform scale. Scales are available that provide legal-for-trade weights for operations that involve billing by weight. They are easily retrofitted to the truck by hanging on the carriage in the same manner as forks hang on the truck.
Single-Double Forks: are forks that in the closed position allow movement of a single pallet or platform but when separated, turn into a set of double forks that allow carrying two pallets side by side. The fork control may have to replace the side-shifter on some lift trucks.
Snow plough: is a mechanical attachment that allows the forklift operator to easily and quickly move snow. The snow plough can often also be utilised at other times of the year as an attachment to clean up workplaces.
Skips: is a mechanical attachment that is simply fitted to your forklift to allow safe and speedy removal of waste to the appropriate skip or waste compactor. There are two types of skips: the roll-forward type and the bottom-emptying type.
Forklifts trucks association and organization:
- Industrial Truck Association (ITA) (North America)
- Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) (North America)
- Federation Europeenne de la Manutention – European Federation of Materials Handling (FEM)
- Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) (UK)
- British Industrial Truck Association (BITA)
- Japan Industrial Vehicles Association (JIVA)
- Korean Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (KOCEMA)
Forklift safety is subject to a variety of standards worldwide. The most important standard is the ANSI B56-of which stewardship has now been passed from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to the Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation after multi-year negotiations. ITSDF is a non-profit organization whose only purpose is the promulgation and modernization of the B56 standard.
Other forklift safety standards have been implemented in the United States by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and in the United Kingdom by the Health and Safety Executive.
In many countries, forklift truck operators must be trained and certified to operate forklift trucks. Certification may be required for each individual class of lift that an operator would use. Forklift training has many names, such as forklift licensing or forklift certification. Whichever term is used, training must adhere to federal or national standards.
Health care providers should not recommend that workers who drive or use heavy equipment such as forklifts treat chronic or acute pain with opioids. Workplaces which manage workers who perform safety-sensitive operations should assign workers to less sensitive duties for so long as those workers are treated by their physician with opioids.
Top Manufacturers of Forklifts: