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Forklift Procurement - How To Choose The Right Lift Truck For The Job
 by: Darryl Shafto

Lift trucks are nowadays commonly used for lifting anything from stock in a warehouse to people required to perform tasks at a certain level (for example: breaking and picking stock). Warehousing managers have a wide choice of lift trucks to choose from. Modern technology allows not only for convenience and safety but also productivity in a warehousing or storage area. Procuring a suitable lift truck for a specific operation might sound easy, but we found a couple of common factors to be excluded when deciding which lifting equipment should be acquired for specific tasks.

We recommend that the decision maker take the following factors into consideration:

What are the properties of the materials that have to be lifted?

Understand the properties (load) of the materials that have to be lifted. Lift truck capacity is affected by the height that the materials have to be lifted and the size of the load. It is also important to include the dimensions of the load, as this will affect the size of the truck selected.

How will the materials be stored?

The way materials are stored also plays a role in determining the type of lift truck that would be required. Potato farmers are required to store heavy loads at high levels in extreme conditions such as uneven terrain, plenty of dust and temperature controlled environments, which does not allow for much room to move. This differs vastly from a warehouse requiring storage at a high level where pickers are hoisted to break bulk in order to select merchandise.

How will the materials be received and shipped?

Shipping materials from a loading dock allows for more space than materials that have to be received and shipped from a cold room. This will affect the size, lifting capacity and maneuverability of the lift truck required.

What is the weight of materials that have to be lifted?

Bigger is not always better in the materials handling business. One could easily reason that you just get a bigger truck for heavier loads. Bigger trucks require more space to move and may cost more, making it not the most suitable solution where heavy materials in small spaces have to be moved.

At which height must the materials be stored?

Lift height and load size determines the capacity of a lift truck. A bigger load size moves the lift truck´s center of gravity, reducing the lifting capacity, making the height at which the materials that have to be stored just as important as the load.

Once the properties of the materials are determined, the capabilities and options of the lifting equipment should be evaluated. How the lift truck is powered (petrol, diesel, electric), mast options, aisle type, safety features and many more factors have to be taken into consideration when determining which lift truck supplier to use. In our next article we will take a look at the various types of lift trucks available and the features that play a role in determining the right materials handling equipment for the specific job at hand.

About The Author

Darryl Shafto is director at Goscor lift truck company distributes Daewoo, Crown and palletrunner materials handling equipment in Southern Africa.

[email protected]

This article was posted on March 27, 2006


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