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Can electric forklifts be used in the rain?

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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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How to maintain your forklift in winter conditions

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Winter months in the UK are famously tough, with some experts predicting 2018 to be the coldest winter in over 10 years, including several months of heavy snow. But is your forklift ready for subzero temperatures? Even if you already conduct an organised maintenance program to prepare for freezing conditions, it is still crucial to carry out pre-season maintenance checks on your forklift to avoid unnecessary repair costs, wasted inactive time, or other winter-related problems.

Here are a few important areas to check over:

Engine and hydraulics

Sub-zero conditions can cause moving parts to slow or jam completely, so always check they are generously lubricated. Hydraulic systems and engines need a longer warmup time in the cold. Before any operation commences, always allow several minutes for the forklift to idle (with no load). It is also a good idea to cycle through and test each hydraulic utility, permitting oil to circulate freely through the system. Cold starts will cost you money through increased fuel consumption and greater wear and tear on parts.

It is also best to avoid running times less than 30 minutes. Engines often use a thicker fuel composition during the first 20 minutes of operation – this is when water vapour can accumulate in the oil and exhaust as temperatures are too low to allow for evaporation. To stop the formation of ice, clouding or gelling in hydraulic fluid, ensure you are using winterised fluids/ lubricants. Diesel engines will also need winterised fuel or additives to prevent congealing.

Battery

Freezing temperatures are a major drain on power, with many batteries discharging at a faster pace. Proactive care could therefore save you a lot of worry, as well as money. The most important thing is to check the cables, ensure they are clean, and verify that the battery is at maximum charge/ strength with a load tester.

Cooling system/ antifreeze

A hydrometer can assess that the coolant is in tiptop condition and that the level of antifreeze is adequate. Hoses and other related components can also leak and should be examined carefully for any damage.

Lights

Low visibility levels and darker afternoons are a constant issue as winter approaches, so lights need to be especially clean and functional. Many forklifts still use halogen lights but these should really be swapped out for LED bulbs – not only are they brighter and longer-lasting, but they illuminate much better in cold temperatures and are excellent at absorbing operational tremors and shakes.

Tires

Pneumatic tires should be inspected for sufficient air pressure, and all tire types (including solid) should be checked to make sure the tread depth will handle snow and icy conditions. You may also fit your forklift tires with snow chains for extra traction on slippery surfaces. In addition, high traffic zones where the forklift operates should be kept free of obstacles or potential dangers. Ice, snow, and frozen mud can all hamper the safety of your forklift (and operator), so outdoor areas require higher traction and need to be snowploughed or gritted regularly. Specialised forklift attachments are also available that allow you shovel snow as well as spread grit.

Cabs

In forklifts fitted with a cab you’ll need to make sure the heater functions, all door latches are oiled, and any windshield wipers move freely and will cope with the extra demands of heavy weather. Forklift covers are also available for any machines that lack enclosed cabs. However, avoid vinyl wraps which are thin and fragile – corrugated hard plastic covers are more durable and better at directing rain away from the windshield.

Operators

Maintenance is not only about properly functioning equipment – the human element is also vital. For any outdoors jobs, all operators should be personally equipped for extreme temperatures and adverse surface conditions (wind/ waterproof outer layers, high visibility vests, warm clothing, hats and gloves, etc.). Drivers should reduce speeds and be reminded not to ignore the increased risks of challenging weather conditions. Cold temperatures also force the body to work harder, sapping energy levels quicker, making tiredness an underestimated hazard. Operators may need greater encouragement to take breaks to rest and replenish calories.

General inspections/ services

One obvious, but sometimes overlooked area, is to ensure your forklift has undergone all regular inspections and scheduled services. Extra maintenance is imperative since winter can be especially brutal to starters and chokes. A quick overall tune-up of mechanics and electrics is therefore always a good idea. Before each daily shift, routine checks should verify all equipment is operational and safe. Most forklift suppliers will advise a series of daily or weekly checks (you’ll find them in the operator’s manual). Overall cleanliness also cannot be overstated – after each operation has concluded the forklift should be fully cleaned, expelling any wintertime debris picked up during operations. Snow, ice, mud, and grit can easily build up and impede functioning.

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Are electric forklifts the future?

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For many decades, diesel and gas forklifts have been used to transport heavy material on construction sites in the UK. These forklifts are used by many companies in the building and construction industry, with some buying and others renting them for various jobs.

Apart from using diesel or gas forklifts, some companies have opted to invest in electric forklifts which can be sourced within the UK or abroad. The use of electric powered forklifts has grown over the years, bringing with it changes within the building and construction landscape.

Is it time you invested in an electric forklift?

Although battery-powered forklifts seem to be the leading choice for industry professionals, it is important to consider whether they are a good fit for you. The best way to do so is by assessing the type of construction jobs you handle regularly and use the report to make a final decision. Whether you are an individual or a company, you need to use the best forklifts to ensure the work done is satisfactory.

Even as you make your decision, you should keep in mind that the world is going green and many industries are jumping on the bandwagon by using equipment that helps protect the environment. The building and construction industry in the UK has not been left behind, with some companies doing their best to preserve the environment as part of their daily work activities. One of the ways that those in the construction industry are contributing to the protection of the environment is by using electric forklifts at work sites.

These battery-powered forklifts can be part of your fleet but do not have to replace those that are powered by gas or diesel. It is advisable to have different types of forklifts to make it possible for you to handle a wide variety of jobs. Also, using several forklifts at a construction site reduces the amount of time used to complete the work for the benefit of the client.

Furthermore, smaller indoor jobs are better handled by an electric forklift because it is quieter and does not produce emissions during operation. If the majority of the construction jobs you do are indoors or do not require heavy lifting, then this particular forklift is an excellent choice for you. Alternatively, you could start with the rechargeable model and then add diesel or petrol forklifts to your fleet as your jobs become bigger.

Additionally, if you are a “die-hard” diesel or petrol forklift user and are having a hard time switching over to the battery powered ones, consider renting one out to get a feel for its performance. You are likely to enjoy using the electric one and decide to hire one or two for jobs that match its capability.

Benefits of electric forklifts vs diesel/ petrol forklifts

Every forklift has unique benefits that make it stand out from the rest. Most construction companies use petrol, diesel or electric forklifts in outdoor and indoor work sites. Some of the advantages of electric forklifts, when compared to diesel/ petrol forklifts, are:

• Electric forklifts are easy to maintain because they do not require tune-ups and have no engine parts that need to be cleaned or changed. The battery needs to be recharged so that it can work for longer periods without stalling. Even so, proper maintenance of diesel/ petrol forklifts ensures that they perform at an optimum level regardless of the job at hand.

• Electric forklifts can handle weights of up to six thousand kilograms, making them ideal for use in small spaces. They can also manoeuvre around the small space because of their size, making the movement of items much faster. On the other hand, diesel/ petrol forklifts can lift thousands of kilograms depending on their size and capacity, making them ideal for work in large work sites.

• The cost of battery-powered forklifts is high at the initial stages when compared to petroleum ones. These costs are much higher because the forklift has to be purchased together with its charger and battery, but the maintenance costs are lower than those of its counterparts. Alternatively, gas/ petrol forklifts are sold at reasonable costs regardless of the size or model.

• Fuel powered forklifts produce much more noise during operation compared to electric forklifts. The noise is produced mainly because of its operations, but it does not affect its performance. Electric forklifts do not make noise, making them ideal for small and indoor spaces where a lot of noise can affect the immediate working environment.

As it stands, electric forklifts are likely to play a significant role in the future of the construction industry because of the benefits they offer users when compared to traditional options. To get more information about hiring rechargeable forklifts in the UK, call us today and talk to a member of our team!

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7 most common mistakes in forklift exams

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As with any other exam, preparing for your forklift evaluation can seem extremely daunting. Having your level of knowledge and expertise with a subject being tested in a short time period can feel overwhelming for many, but there are reasons to feel hopeful. Again, as with any other exam, undergoing a successful forklift evaluation comes down to one principle – practice.

The mistakes you need to avoid

When employers are testing your skills operating a forklift, they are really checking for one vital ingredient – can this person handle a forklift safely and securely? With that in mind, preparation for your forklift evaluation should be focussed on ensuring that you are as informed as possible about the correct way to operate a forklift. Here is a list of the seven most common mistakes that you need to avoid during your forklift examination.

1) Poor forklift operator behaviour

Aside from just testing technical expertise, one key area that is being tested during a forklift examination is the examinee’s behaviour whilst operating a forklift. Employers want to know that you will be conscientious and responsible whilst operating a forklift, and thus it is essential to ensure that you take your job as a forklift operator seriously. Messing about or showing a lack of concern for safety regulations will not do. Employers do not want an employee with bad behaviour to enter their organisation, as it could be dangerous to the other people working in the area.

2) Insufficient forklift pre-use inspection

Before operating a forklift, there are a number of pre-use inspection checks required to ensure the machine is operating properly. If these checks are not carried out, there could be potential danger for the operator or any other employee in the vicinity of the forklift. For example, it is essential to complete steps such as ensuring that you troubleshoot the lift truck, and check to see if there is any damage from previous usage.

3) Incorrect loading of the materials to be transported

As a forklift operator, you will spend your time transporting loads from one place to another. Thus one key area of safety concern is the stability and security of the load being transported. The examinee must ensure that the object being transported on a pallet has its weight distributed and balanced evenly before attempting to lift it up. When lifting the object, the fork tip must be 1 foot away from the pallet carrying the object. Always ensure that there is no other person in the vicinity when you are loading up the forklift. The load being carried must be lifted slowly and carefully to avoid unnecessary injury or damage to the load.

4) Malpractice whilst in transit

Another common mistake made is examinee behaviour whilst in transit. It is essential to remember that the forks should never be raised or lowered when the forklift is in transit. Moreover, the speed of the forklift must be kept at a low and controllable rate, and you must always be aware of other employees moving around in the vicinity. When in transit, all body parts must be kept within the confines of the forklift. As a forklift operator is likely to be working within the vicinity of other forklifts, you must be aware of any other machines around you. Moreover, always ensure that you stop before any corners to ensure you do not run into another machine.

5) Incorrect unloading of the materials being transported

Once you have arrived at the location for unloading, it is important to ensure that you have enough space available to place your load down safely. Furthermore, you need to have sufficient reversing distance away from the load, so that your forklift does not come into contact with the object or material. It is always essential to check that no other employee is in the vicinity of the unloading, and you need to make sure you have a clear and unobstructed view of what you are doing. Once you have placed the load down, lower your forks to a few inches above the ground before you head to your next destination.

6) Poor forklift parking procedures

When it is time to park the forklift, lower the forks until they touch the ground. You need to ensure that you turn off the control of the forklift, and engage the brakes – checking that they are fully engaged. Once that is completed, you need to turn the keys to the off position. If you have to park your forklift on an inclined surface, ensure that you block the wheels to prevent unwanted movement.

7) Malpractice whilst fuelling and charging the forklift

When refuelling and recharging, make sure that the engine is always off. There are many potential dangers if the engine remains on during this process, especially the potential for fuel ignition. You should always have a fire extinguisher ready at hand in case something goes wrong during the refuelling and recharging process. Moreover, you should ensure that you are wearing fireproof coverings to prevent any further hazard. If there is any spillage during refuelling, the ground must be cleaned up immediately.

As with every common mistake made during forklift examinations, always remember – safety first!

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10 most common questions about electric forklifts

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Electric Forklifts

When deciding which type of forklift is the right choice for your needs, it can feel daunting to know how to make the right decision. With so many different styles, shapes, and sizes of forklift on the market, it is important to ensure that you find the type of forklift that is best suited to your needs.

A popular choice of forklift, is an electric forklift. Whilst there are many similarities between electric forklifts and more traditional, gas and diesel operated machines, there are some notable differences that are important to take into consideration. As such, here is a list of answers to the most common questions asked about electric forklifts to help you make the most informed decision possible about the best forklift for you.

 

1) How long do electric forklifts last?

When it comes to determining how long electric forklifts last, the lifespan is usually measured in hours. If an electric forklift is used on a single-shift operations with an 8-hour working day, the average forklift will be running for approximately 2,000 hours per year. An average electric forklift has a predicted lifespan of 10,000 working hours – thus it should last for approximately 5 years.

 

 

2) Can electric forklifts be used outside?

Electric forklifts are typically designed to work best indoors or in colder climates, and so theoretically it could be used outside. However, it is advisable that if the majority of the working hours of a forklift are expected to occur outside, then a gas or diesel alternative should be sought.

 

 

3) Can electric forklifts be used in the rain?

Following on from the last point, an electric forklift should never be used in places where rain or snowfall are frequent occurrences. Exposure to rain or snow can lead to electric forklifts short circuiting, and thus the dangers require the use of an alternative gas or diesel forklift.

 

 

4) Do electric forklifts require fire extinguishers?

There is no legal requirement to equip electric forklifts with fire extinguishers. However, it is advisable that the working conditions an electric forklift is expected to operate within should be evaluated for potential fire hazards, and if it is a high risk area, then equipping the forklift with a fire extinguisher would be a good idea. Moreover, if an area is deemed high risk for potential fires, then there may be regulations that require employees to have adequate fire protection.

 

 

5) Can I use a car battery for an electric forklift?

As car batteries are constructed for different purposes, the use of a car battery in an electric forklift is not suitable. Electric forklift batteries are of a type known as “deep cycle”. This means the battery is able to be discharged and recharged multiple times during the expected lifespan of the battery.

 

 

6) How do I charge an electric forklift?

As has just been mentioned, electric forklift batteries are designed to be of a deep cycle variety. An electric forklift deep cycle battery can be recharged using a special compatible battery charger that takes its power from regular mains electricity. It is recommended that the deep cycle battery is given a full 8-hours to ensure a complete and thorough charging.

 

 

7) What type of power supply do I need to charge an electric forklift?

The charger that you will need to repower an electric forklift depends entirely on the size of the battery, and thus on the size of the forklift. An electric forklift charger will gain its power from mains electricity, and the size of the required charger will depend on whether it is a single or three phase charger.

 

 

8) How fast does an electric forklift drive?

An electric forklift has the same performance levels as gas and diesel forklifts. The maximum allowable speed for any kind of forklift during operation is 8mph, and therefore in terms of speed, you will not notice any difference between an electric forklift compared to a gas or diesel forklift.

 

 

9) Are electric forklifts more cost effective than gas and diesel forklifts?

In general, electric forklifts are more cost effective than gas and diesel alternatives. Electric forklifts have fewer moving parts than their gas and diesel counterparts, and thus have lower maintenance requirements. Moreover, there is no need for oil changes or tune ups, and this helps to keep maintenance costs low. Furthermore, the cost of charging an electric forklift is lower than the cost of refuelling gas and diesel forklifts. However, electric forklifts have higher initial investment costs due to the necessity of purchasing an industrial battery and charger, but in general, electric still remains more cost effective.

 

 

10) What is the biggest electric forklift that you can get?

The largest electric forklift that can currently be purchased on the market has a 25 tonne lifting capacity. If you require heavier loads to be lifted, then perhaps looking into gas and diesel alternatives may be the way to go.

To learn more about how an electric forklift can benefit your business, contact us today!

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Why CAT Electric Forklifts are so good

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CAT have been designing and building forklift trucks and lifting equipment since the 1960s. Their brand is synonymous with high performance, reliability and a long service life in a range of settings. They have been the trusty workhorses of countless businesses, keeping them running smoothly and consistently across the seasons and in a range of different environments.

As a leading CAT electric forklifts dealer in London, we understand the intricacies that make CAT electric forklifts some of the best in the business. We are well placed to offer advice about the merits of these fine pieces of machinery, so here we provide an overview of what makes a CAT electric forklift so good.

cat forklift

Perfect for indoor work

An electric forklift truck is the perfect option to work in an indoor environment. In a warehouse or other storage facility, there will be people working in a busy enclosed environment, so the last things you want from your machinery are lots of engine noise and polluting fumes being spewed into the environment. With CAT electric counterbalance trucks the engine doesn’t run on petrol or diesel, so it doesn’t have a noisy combustion engine and doesn’t release any fumes.

They are therefore an excellent option for jobs like transferring goods into and out of racking, bringing materials to the production line, clearing waste packaging and performing loading tasks. A single charge, which can be done as a facility is closed (overnight, for example), will typically enable the operator to get through a shift without needing to recharge, so productivity is maximised while noise and pollution are kept at a minimum.

 

Environmentally friendly without sacrificing power

CAT electric counterbalance trucks will help you improve the carbon footprint of your business. The electric engine has zero emissions, and the energy used to recharge the battery causes a fraction of the pollution that a petrol or diesel engine would emit during a single shift.

Energy efficiency has become a major issue in recent years, and companies are encouraged to make changes to their processes that will improve their energy efficiency. With CAT electric counterbalance trucks you get long shift cycles from a single charge and emissions-free usage at all times. This will lower your fuel costs and boost productivity, as well as making the working environment of your employees more pleasant and lowering your overall carbon footprint, so it’s a win all round.

 

Great technology at your disposal

One of the reasons CAT electric forklifts stand out as the best in the business is the technology they are built with. The cutting-edge battery technology provides maximum length to shift cycles so operators can keep going right through their shift on a single charge. They are also designed to be easy to maintain, with simple daily maintenance routines and advanced diagnostic systems that can indicate when there is an issue that needs to be addressed. With the right training, your staff will be able to personally manage the basic upkeep of their machine, cutting your maintenance costs significantly.

The technology at play in CAT electric counterbalance trucks also means you get superb manoeuvrability. This is an essential feature when working in a tight indoor environment like a warehouse. CAT knows where its electric forklifts are most likely to be used, so they include a number of design features that make them effective at navigating the narrow spaces of an indoor storage environment. With well-trained operators, a fleet of CAT electric forklifts could enable you to get the most out of your storage environment by narrowing the lanes and adding more units – your CAT forklifts will be able to manage the narrow spaces.

Another great feature of CAT electric forklifts is the fact that they can be personalised with a range of attachments and programmable operating characteristics. Every working environment is unique, and it is a real bonus to have equipment that can be adapted and optimised for your specific needs. The CAT range of electric forklifts offers great flexibility in every single model, so you will be able to tailor them to do the very best for your work environment.

 

A comprehensive, all-in-one package

With CAT electric counterbalance trucks, you get a flexible, reliable powerhouse that will enable every operator to do their very best work. Perfect for indoor environments, the low noise output and zero emissions will be welcome features to all your staff, and also help towards lowering your company’s overall carbon footprint. You get great power and long shift cycles out of the high-tech battery-powered engine, with a simplistic maintenance cycle to ensure you have no trouble keeping your machines ship-shape. And the advanced technology of every truck means you get fantastic manoeuvrability and flexible operating characteristics that enable you to tailor your machine to the specific needs of your workplace. What more could you ask for?

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