Fork Lift Association & Thorough Examination

1. What are the different types of forklifts?

Depending on the specific needs of your business, there are three main types of forklifts which are most commonly used across a variety of industries.

Counterbalance Forklifts

Counterbalance forklifts are the most common type of forklift and the type most people think of when thinking about forklifts. Counterbalance are extremely flexible and can be used in a huge variety of different environments including indoors and outdoors.

Reach Forklifts

Reach forklifts are most commonly used in warehouse environments. The combination of this reach capability and the stabilising legs means reach trucks can lift to great heights while still operating in very tight working environments. Whilst reach trucks are ideal for use indoors, they are not ideally suited to work outside.

Sideloading Forklifts

Sideloading forklifts (often called Sideloaders) are excellent for handling lengthy materials such as timber, piping and sheets, which would be extremely difficult with a conventional lift. As the name suggests Sideloads lift from the side meaning they are able to manage longer loads.

2. How often should I service my forklift?

Similarly to with a car, regularly serving forklifts ensures smooth operation for your business. We would recommend that your should service your forklift every 250 hours of use to optimise performance. Our service includes a thorough forklift checks from the fuel filter to the steering and electrical system to make sure your machine is working safely and efficiently.

3. Electric or Gas forklift: which is better?

Electric and gas forklifts are the two most commonly used forklift types available. As the names suggest, one is powered by electricity and the other by liquid petroleum gas. Depending on the specific needs for your business, you may choose one or other or also utilise both. Whilst electric forklifts are more eco-friendly and offer quieter operation indoors, gas forklifts do not need charging and also perform better in a wider variety of tasks including both indoor and outdoor environments.

4. How often is a Thorough Examination required?

From the one year point onwards a Thorough Examination is required at least once every 12 months. In some instances a truck will need to have a Thorough Examination more frequently. If you are in doubt check this with your truck supplier or maintenance provider.

5. Should I buy a new or used forklift?

This entirely depends on the budget of your business and the amount of usage the forklift will get. Whilst a brand new forklift is very appealing and won't come with any issues, a professionally maintained used forklift can also work very well for your business. You can also consider renting a forklift for short and long term periods.

6. What are the different types of forklift tyres?

Generally speaking forklift tyres come in two fits: standard and press on. Standard tyres are fitted the same way as a car tyre, whilst press on tyres require much less time, they are also less durable and do not perform as well on challenging terrains.

Pneumatic Tyres

Pneumatic forklift tyres are designed similarly to those you would find on a lorry or truck, their thick and tear-resistant rubber make them ideal for use in rough and uneven terrains.

Solid Rubber Tyres

Solid rubber tyres are one of the most common tyres types on market and are made with solid rubber wrapped around a metal band as opposed to being filled with air making them more suitable for indoor use.

Polyurethane Tyres

Polyurethane tyres are excellent indoor forklift tyres, they are typically lightweight and provide excellent traction with low rolling assistance.

7. What type of forklift is best for indoor use?

Depending on the needs of your business, there are a several types of forklifts that are suitable for use indoors including counterbalance forklifts, reach forklifts, sideloading forklifts and more. Electric and Gas forklifts are ideal for use indoors as they offer quiet operation. You could choose one or both for your business.

Electric Forklifts

Electric forklifts generate no emissions as well as being cheaper to operate than fuel powered trucks. There is no need to store fuel in your warehouse, freeing up space and making your warehouse a safer place.

Gas Forklifts

Powered by liquefied petroleum gas, LPG forklifts are useful for both internal and external work across a number of different sectors including industrial, commercial and many more.

8. How much does a forklift cost?

There isn’t a definitive answer to how much a forklift costs due to various factors, such as:

• Is it a new or used forklift?

Just like buying any vehicle, you’ll usually pay more for a new forklift than you would for a similar spec used forklift.

• How many hours has it worked?

The cost of used forklifts is often dependent on how many hours the vehicle has worked. A forklift that’s been heavy-lifting on a daily basis, will have more worn components and generally cost less than an equivalent model of the same age.

That said, when you buy a used forklift from a reputable dealer, such as Beds & Bucks Forktrucks Ltd., each used forklift will have been fully inspected and serviced to operate safely, irrespective of its previous hours of operation.

• The manufacturer and model

Again, just like buying any vehicle, certain makes and models are more sought-after, therefore can be more expensive. With this in mind, if your forklift is going to be vital to your business, it’s always worth spending that bit more on the better makes and models.

• The fuel type

At present, diesel, petrol and LPG forklifts are generally less expensive to buy than electric powered forklifts. But, if you are considering an electric forklift, the running costs will be lower which may offset the initial cost of the vehicle.

9. Why don’t forklifts tip over?

Forklifts can and do tip over, but this is mostly down to misuse, an inexperienced operator or a mechanical fault or failure. But, as long as the forklift is being operated safely, by a fully-trained operator and lifting within its lifting capability, it is designed to remain upright, even when lifting extremely heavy loads.

The science behind a forklift’s non-tipping ability is to do with the counterweight attached to the vehicle. This weight acts as a balance, in much the same way as when you use old-fashioned weighing scales or when two people of the same weight sit on a seesaw. So, as long as the centre of gravity is in the centre of the wheel base, the forklift shouldn’t tip over.

10. Are forklifts manual or automatic?

Forklifts are available with manual or automatic controls, and like other motorised vehicles, the manual option is usually the cheaper alternative. However, there are pros and cons to both operating systems, so before investing in either, it’s always worth speaking to an expert.

11. Can a forklift be driven on a public road?

Yes, a forklift can be driven on a public road, but there are certain legal requirements that have to be adhered to, including:

• The forklift must be registered with the DVLA – this means it must be taxed and display registration plates.

• The forklift must have appropriate lighting – this includes headlights and taillights and, if driven below 25mph, the forklift must have a yellow beacon.

• Drivers must have a full driving licence – As with any motorised vehicle, the driver of a forklift on a public road must hold a valid and appropriate licence, as well as having passed a forklift operator course.

In short, if you do decide to drive your forklift on a public road, even if it’s just to drive a short distance, you must first check whether it’s legal to do so.