Crash Course for Outdoor Forklifts

Most forklifts are used indoors, or a combination of indoors and outdoors.  Some, forklifts, however, spend their work lives outdoors and they need some special considerations.

Let’s start with the lot you’re working in and around.  Paving matters.  Ideally, a blacktop or concrete is preferred over a dirt lot that can be uneven and develop holes and irregularities that can cause a forklift to roll over. Fix these immediately as they happen.

Moving up, consider solid or foam-filled tires. Sharp objects and other debris can puncture an air-filled tire- and while the initial expense of a solid or foam-filled tires is more, at least you’ll never have to call someone out to fix a flat.

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Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two warehouses are the same. Large and small, wide aisles and narrow, tall shelves and short- there are plenty of variables, and all of them can have an impact on what you need your forklift to do.

We’ve discussed the considerations for forklifts and your facility before- the capacity of the loads your truck will be moving; ventilation (electric vs. combustion engine); how many loads and the number of shifts per day; stocking vs manufacturing warehouse; how high materials will be stacked; width of aisles; what type of floor (marking vs non-marking tires).

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Part 7: Forklift Driver Training

It’s time!  I’ve spent a couple hours learning the basics of balance and stability and safety on the forklift, been intimidated (initially) by the math, and passed all the on-line tests with (if I say so myself) flying colors.

Now, the rubber hits the road, as they say.  It’s time for me to show up at Atlantic Forklift Services warehouse and take my practical test- hands on a forklift!

I would be working with Matt Cox from Atlantic Forklift, who knows more about forklifts than just about anyone else.  My practical exam would take place on a Doosan Pro5 truck- not a huge forklift that might overwhelm a first-timer- this felt like a good truck on which to get my feet wet.

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Forklift Masts

Picture a forklift. What part do you think of first? Probably the cab. It’s the biggest part of the forklift. Then, probably the forks.  They appear to do the bulk of the work, but the fact is the mast may be the most important part of the forklift.

The mast is the part of the forklift that moves the load up in the air using a system of pneumatic cylinders and chains that raise and lower the forks to different heights.

There are several types of masts, the right one for you depends on what you are moving around and how high the forks need to go: Two-stage, three-stage, four-stage, and five-stage.  The addition of each stage allows the forks to travel higher. Obviously, the higher the forks have to go, the larger the truck will need to be to offset the weight.  However, larger capacity trucks tend to skew towards the shorter masts because lifting a heavy load that high in the air is a bad idea. Check with your expert to determine which truck/mast combination might be best for you.

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