Are You and Your Forklift Ready for Winter?

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Confidently and safely operating a forklift is a challenging thing to master, but throw in some bad winter weather and the task can become difficult and even dangerous. In the UK weather can turn for the worst very quickly, so it’s crucial that you are in complete control of your forklift to keep safe and avoid accidents.

Snow, ice, rain and strong winds can all affect not only your forklift’s performance but also the safety of the operator. It is very important that you not only safeguard your staff but also your expensive forklift fleet.

Here are some important things to consider about safely operating a forklift in the winter months:

Check the weather forecast regularly

It may seem like the obvious thing to do, but you need to know what the weather forecast is going to be before operating a forklift outdoors. If the weather looks too bad then safety must come first. It’s crucial that you are aware of what the weather will be like outside before you choose to operate a forklift as bad weather can happen very quickly and unexpectedly, so you can find yourself in trouble.

Think about the recent news of how devastating flash flooding can happen instantly, imagine trying to safely operate a forklift in such conditions!

Stay focused and alert at all times whilst using your forklift

If you are operating a forklift outdoors in winter, ice and snow could lead to a loss of control, so should be avoided as much as possible. Your hands should both remain on the wheel at all times and you should be constantly alert and ready to react to a sudden skid. Slippery surfaces provide reduced traction, so you will find yourself stopping and starting more often and suddenly losing control of your forklift.

Visibility can also be a problem in the winter; you should never operate your forklift if the visibility is bad and if you feel tired, as the combination of both can be very dangerous.

Do not forget to carry out safety checks and service your forklift

Safety checks should be the norm all year round, and, as winter weather can seriously affect your ability to operate your forklift safely, these checks should be done prior to every forklift operation.

Before you start the engine, check that everything is operating as it should: batteries, engine, electrics and hydraulics, as these are the most likely parts to be damaged by freezing temperatures or damp. Thoroughly inspect your tyres, checking the pressure and adjusting if necessary. If your tyres are over-inflated, they won’t grip very well on untreated surfaces, but if under-inflated they could go flat very quickly.

Finally, it’s important to check antifreeze levels and oil gauge, both of which are essential in preventing the engine from freezing up as the temperature drops.

Slow and steady does it

With ice and snow, you should always drive at low speeds to reduce the risk of skidding and losing control of the forklift. Tight deadlines can put forklift operators under pressure to perform quicker, but safety must always take priority over deadlines. Productivity may reduce because of snow or sleet, but if you rush you will not only injure yourself but you will damage the forklift which will cost you time and money to replace.

Forklifts are generally harder to handle than a car so, in treacherous weather, they can become very dangerous, therefore you should reduce your speed significantly if you want to stay safe.

Step by step winter-proofing your day

Warm up the forklift

In cold weather, you wouldn’t attempt to drive your car to work without giving the engine a chance to warm up, so the same goes for your forklift. Before you start working, turn the engine on and let it run for a few minutes to raise the temperature.

Trying to operate a forklift with a cold engine can cause all sorts of problems with the transmission and combustion, so it’s vital to give it some time to warm up while you ideally do the same with a hot drink.

Wear warm clothing

Whether you are using your forklift inside the warehouse or outdoors, clothing is very important. Generally, you would wear appropriate work clothes for the tasks, however, in winter you really need to focus on layering up. You should consider thick gloves, sturdy boots with warm socks (maybe even wearing two pairs), a warm hat and a warm jacket or heavy fleece, not forgetting to wear your high-vis jacket over it. It’s important to be wrapped up before you start, otherwise the cold can become a distraction and affect your judgement during forklift operation.

It is very quick to lose control of your forklift and have an accident when driving over ice patches, for example, so you must make sure you are wearing adequate clothing so the cold will not distract you and you can remain focused at all times.

Five safety tips to help your business prepare for winter, be prepared and vigilant and stay safe no matter what weather conditions you may encounter.

These tips will help owners and operators to keep their forklifts operating in perfect condition, minimising downtime and maximising safety.

– Make sure your forklift operators wear appropriate clothing

Crucial for the safety of operators and machinery

– Warm-up your forklift engine before operating

This simple tip can help you get ready for a productive day without the risk of damaging your machinery

– Ensure the anti-freeze is topped up

Anti-freeze is excellent at ensuring the engine coolant will not completely freeze and stop the forklift in its tracks. Make sure it’s topped up.

– Ensure the forklift is in perfect operating condition

Check all of the safety lights are working, replacing any bulbs if needed, especially in low visibility conditions. If operating in snow or ice, you can install forklift chains for extra grip. Ensure all electronics covers are closed to prevent snow, ice and water getting into the components risking electrocution.

– Operate the forklift according to the conditions

Slow down and drive carefully as it’s a lot easier to lose control on snow and ice. Be visible at all times with safety lights and beacons, as well as appropriate high visibility clothes.

Are you ready for Christmas?

Any warehouse equipment including forklift trucks, pallet trucks and staff will be highly sought after in the weeks leading up to the busy Christmas season, but by following our advice you’ll be able to keep up with the Christmas rush and keep your warehouse, staff and machinery safe.

– Stock up on hired equipment

In winter, there is normally an increase in hired forklifts and warehouse equipment to help businesses manage the demand in productivity. So, it’s essential that, as a business, you assess early what you are likely to need and book your hired forklifts early, to ensure you can meet the increased seasonal business.

– Brief and refresh your workforce

Consider early refresher courses for your staff, especially if they have not used the equipment or operated machinery for a period of time. It is not required by law, but keeping your workers’ skills sharp can definitely reduce accidents.

– Get ready for any winter weather

Christmas time is not only busy when it comes to increased productivity, but it is also a busy time for accidents so, if you have an accident due to the weather, you may be waiting a long time for emergency or repair services to reach you, especially in the snow. It may be a good idea to hire attachments for your vehicles to move snow, or if you have a large outdoor yard, you may need to invest in leasing a snowplough, or at the very least you will need plenty of grit and snow shovels. Make sure you have plenty of grit stored, don’t wait until it snows to stock up, or you may not be able to find any for sale.

– Train your seasonal staff well

Increased pressure at work can lead to mistakes as staff, especially temporary seasonal staff, can cut corners and rush to get their work done. This can be very dangerous in warehouse environments as a mistake could lead to a serious accident.

Seasonal Christmas staff are a great idea, not only to increase productivity and meet demand but also to support your permanent staff, to prevent them from becoming frustrated, tired and overworked, which can also lead to accidents when operating forklifts.

Make sure you only hire qualified staff or train them well so they can operate machinery safely. Make sure they are supplied with the correct PPE and are informed of your company-specific health and safety policy, keeping all paperwork handy for inspection.

– Risk assess your business for winter

With increased seasonal activity in your warehouse, you can also expect an increased level of risk in your work environment, so it is a good idea to carry out a review of your risk assessments and tailor them to the increased activity level. Factor in all the new variables like extra machinery, stock and staff, and implement safety precautions to ensure your busy season runs smoothly.

Depending on what type of forklift you use, you may also need to arrange for servicing and maintenance well ahead of the Christmas rush, to ensure any machine faults are spotted and put right before your staff get too busy.

These recommendations will not just keep your staff and machinery safe, they will also help you to confidently meet your increased customer demand.

Keeping your forklifts in top condition will not only ensure you meet the legal safety requirements; it will also save you a lot of money having to replace costly machinery. If you are looking for forklift hire or maintenance this winter then get in touch!

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Hako range of Pedestrian Sweepers and Ride On Scrubber Dryers

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Hako range of pedestrian scrubbers - Hiremech

Hako we have a wide range of Pedestrian Sweepers and Ride On Scrubber Dryers. Available in a range of different sizes and for different needs, these machines are suitable for many types of business, and for both indoor and outside use. We will take a close look at pedestrian sweepers and ride-on scrubber drivers to explain how they can help you and your business.

Pedestrian Sweepers

A pedestrian sweeper is sometimes referred to as a ‘walk behind sweeper’, as the operator pushes the sweeper along its chosen path. In simplistic terms, it is the easy-to-use alternative to hiring a cleaner to use a broom and shovel to sweep and clean the floor. These machines are designed to sweep the ground and to collect and then store any dust and debris. Pedestrian sweepers are suitable for both the industrial and commercial sectors. They also come in a range of sizes from compact to large and with a choice of petrol-fuelled motors or battery controlled. Some also have a powered drive to make them even easier to use. Below we will explore the vast range of pedestrian sweepers that are available from Hako, the similarities and differences in the range, plus their features and which businesses or services would benefit from using them.

Common features found in the Hako pedestrian sweepers range

User comfort

Hako pedestrian sweepers have all been built with user safety and comfort at their heart. All of these pedestrian sweepers are user-friendly while integrating a simple operation. User comfort is achieved with the use of an ergonomically shaped, easy-to-grip handle that can be adapted for every user, so no more stooping over the machine and hurting your back. The pedestrian sweeper adapts itself to your height.

Easy to operate

All the machines are also easy to push because they are made from lightweight yet sturdy materials. The Sweepmaster M650 is the smallest pedestrian sweeper and is the only manual option. But, this it is just as easy to push along as the Sweepmaster 800 which is the largest battery or petrol operated sweeper. All motorised options also come with an onboard charger, making them quick and easy to charge up between sweeps.

Non-corrosive body

Each machine is constructed from robust aluminium and a steel frame that is non-corrosive, making the sweeper suitable for all weather conditions. The sweeper is further protected by a shock-resistant plastic frame.

Easy to remove hopper

The hopper in each machine is very easy to remove and empty, leaving very little downtime. You’ll know the hopper is full by the on-screen digital display.

What are the differences?

Manual, battery or petrol

There is a choice between manual and motorised pedestrian sweepers that are either battery or petrol operated. The M60 model is the only manual option, while the 650 and 800 models are available as a petrol or battery-operated model. Which sweeper you choose very much depends upon your working environment and the size of ground that needs to be swept. For example, the Sweepmaster 800 petrol motor would be suitable for large and well-ventilated warehouses, but not for a shop floor.

Range of sizes

You are able to choose the right sweeper for your business needs because they range from compact to large. The Sweepmaster 650 is suitable for small to medium-sized floors, while for narrow hallways and compact spaces, the M600 may be more suitable. All of the pedestrian sweepers have large and robust wheels to navigate changes in height and navigating kerbs, carparks and yards.

Range of applications

The Hako pedestrian sweepers can be used in a variety of environments by many different businesses. These include shop floors, shopping centres, warehouses, factories, offices and in the hospitality industries, such as hotels, bars and gymnasiums.

The Sweepmaster B500 is a great all-rounder as it can be used on both hard and soft flooring. This is highly advantageous when moving from hardwood to carpeted floors, such as in a hotel. The Sweepmaster 650 is well suited for cleaning soft flooring as it comes with an additional carpet cleaning kit. This makes it highly suitable for use in large industrial cleans, where you mainly clean carpets, and on a huge scale. It also comes with a large dust filter. When you need to clean large warehouses or factory floors, then the Sweepmaster 800 is your best option. When you mainly need to sweep narrow corridors, such as in an office building, then the M600 is the ideal pedestrian sweeper for you.

Ride On Scrubber Dryers

As the name suggests, these machines scrub the floor clean using powerful jets of water and cleaning solution that are stored in onboard tanks. Then the powerful suction collects all the dirty water. Ranging from a small compact ride-on scrubber dryer that is slightly larger than a push along machine, all the way through to large industrial machines that are suitable for large commercial premises and car parks.

The ride-on scrubber dryer obviously has many advantages to combining these two tasks that are usually done by hand. The fact that these two tasks can be done more quickly and thoroughly is a huge incentive. They are incredibly time-efficient and coupled with this is that the ride on machines are incredibly cost-effective. This is because these cleaning machines are robust, stand the test of time and get the job done. For example, the Scrubmaster B175R comes with a recovery tank. They are able to clean wide, open spaces and keep the operator safe and comfortable at the same time.

What are the similarities in this range?

Although these ride-on machines differ in size and with varying functions and add ons, they do have many similarities.

Easy to drive

All of the Hako range is very easy to drive and manoeuvre. The maximum speed of each machine is achieved with the use of a single button control. It is advised that you undertake basic training before using these machines, to ensure that they are used correctly and to their maximum potential. They are able to drive effortlessly on different terrains due to their large, easy to grip tyres.

User safety and comfort

User safety is paramount with every Hako ride-on scrubber dryer. Safety measures are built into every machine. This is shown in the Scrubmaster B75R as it comes with the use of a headlight, ensuring it can be used safely in dimly lit areas. Each machine is also incredibly robust and stable when manoeuvring tight corners or turning in a circle, keeping the driver safe at all times. Comfort is also a priority, with ergonomically designed seats that encourage good posture and ease of movement.

Warning lights

The ride-on scrubber dryer comes with useful features such as warning lights to let you know when the water level is low and needs to be topped up. Some models, such as the Scrubmaster B120R, also show warning lights when the brushes and pads need to be replaced.

What are the differences?

Each machine comes with its own unique benefits and user-friendly features to suit your working environment.

Difference in size – Compact to industrial

Choose your ride-on scrubber and dryer according to where you wish to clean. They come in a range of sizes from compact to industrial-sized machines. One of the bigger machines, the Scrubmaster B175R, also comes in a choice of three widths, so that you can choose a machine with wider coverage for areas such as large and open spaces in a car park that would take longer to clean with a smaller and thinner machine.

Cleaning on an incline

Surfaces are not always even, and if you need to clean flooring that is on an incline, then you need a machine that can cope safely and efficiently with this type of terrain. The Scrubmaster B175R can cope easily with inclines of up to fifteen percent. This makes it ideal for cleaning sloping paths, driveways and multi-storey car parks.

Pre sweep before scrubbing

If you want a machine that sweeps the floor before it scrubs and washes, then go for the Scrubmaster B310R as it does this for you. It sweeps and collects dust and debris in the easy-to-remove hopper, before continuing to scrub the floor clean and then drying it. This is a good all-rounder for large industrial floors.

Energy-saving function

When using a large ride-on scrubber, it obviously uses a lot of power and water while scrubbing and cleaning the floor. This means that they cost a lot more to operate than a smaller machine. Luckily, the Scrubmaster B310R comes with an energy-saving function, meaning that when the machine is stationary, the water stops, as do the brushes.

Range of applications

The ride-on scrubber dryer range from Hako is an incredibly versatile group of machines that can be used in a variety of places and for differing business needs.

The Scrubmaster B75R is the smallest ride-on scrubber dryer and is best used in narrow and confined spaces, such as small yards, narrow streets or outdoor patio areas. Larger and more industrial scrubber dryer machines such as the Scrubmaster B310R is the ideal machine for cleaning large factories or multi-story car parks. If you need to clean ground that is uneven or has an incline, then the Scrubmaster B175R is the ride on you should choose.

To learn more about the fantastic range of Hako pedestrian sweepers and ride-on scrubber driers to help your business, then please do browse our website. If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Everything you need to know about forklift training at Hiremech

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Narrow Aisle Flexi G4 and EP JX1 forklift trucks

Forklift trucks are the most popular machine for moving materials and goods; however, they are involved in a large number of goods transport accidents when used without appropriate training. Injuries or, even worse, deaths caused by inadequate training can ruin lives and businesses. Even near misses or small accidents can still mean costly damage to forklift trucks, buildings, fittings and goods.

Who is responsible for forklift truck training?

– Employers and those responsible for the safe operation of forklift trucks
– Warehouse managers and supervisors and the self-employed
– Anyone tasked with stacking or transporting goods by forklift between sites

Employers are required to provide the opportunity for basic training and testing for all lift-truck operators they employ. Forklifts operators who are properly trained are vital in reducing the risk of forklift accidents in your workplace. An ‘operator’ is anyone who operates a forklift truck, even as a secondary or occasional part of their job role.

What are the requirements by law?

PUWER, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, requires certain requirements from employers. All employees, who carry out their work using any machinery or equipment, must have undertaken adequate training in the following:

– Correct and safe use of any relevant equipment;
– Understand how to risks assess its use;
– Any necessary precautions to take in order to operate safely.

Not only your employees must be trained but a record must be kept to ensure their training is up to date, otherwise, refresher training must be booked.

Even if you are self-employed, you must be able to provide evidence that your training is up to date and relevant.

What is involved in the training?

Operator training should always include three stages:

– Basic training.
– Specific job-tailored training.
– Familiarisation training.

Basic Training

Basic training generally covers all the information needed to safely operate the type of forklift truck and handling attachments the trainee is required to use in their workplace, including awareness of the risks involved in lift-truck operations. It is the perfect environment to learn how to operate the trucks without the added pressure of production.

Trainers continuously assess a trainee’s progress to ensure they are on track to receive the right training standards. At the end of the training, the trainee should pass a test, or tests, to demonstrate that they have the necessary practical and theoretical knowledge and skills to operate forklift trucks safely.

After basic training, the trainee should be able to do the following:

– Learn the location of all the forklift controls and attachment and how to use them. Operate the forks, and any other attachment, using the correct controls for the desired result.

– Manage different types of load in order to correctly and safely stack, de-stack and separate, assessing the weight and the load centre of a load to ensure it is within the truck’s actual capacity.

– Learn to spot what can affect the stability of the forklift, including turning with sharpness and smoothness of operation even at speed; load security and integrity and ground conditions and type.

– Employ the correct Health & Safety procedures when loading and unloading vehicles.

– Learn the vital importance of making visual checks to ascertain the safety, soundness and rating of structures designed to receive loads, especially at various heights.

– Accurately pick up and place any type of load, driving the forklift forwards and backwards, as well as other more complex manoeuvres, load and unload various loads in different circumstances like on ramps or restricted spaces and on level ground including different types of smooth and rough flooring, in accordance with safety procedures.

– Once forklift operation is at an end, how to safely and securely park the forklift, demonstrating awareness on how to use relevant safety devices like stabilisers, level and load indicators, and the importance of using seat restraints.

– How to inspect and carry out maintenance to the forklift, as required by the machine manufacturers and any relevant legislation, as well as procedural pre-lift checks. State what to do in an emergency while in control of a forklift truck, for example, if there is a tip over, and why it is essential to have a vehicle key custody arrangement in place.

Specific job training

This type of training normally follows the completion of basic training, but can be delivered together depending on your particular needs and include, where appropriate:

– Understanding of the controls of the forklift truck to be used, including the handling of attachments and loads specific to the job.

– How to routinely inspect and service that particular truck, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and company procedures.

– Specific training in the use of the forklift in loading bays; racking and lifting; automatic doors; confined areas; cold stores; slopes; rough terrain handling; loading platforms; other vehicles and bad weather, including instruction on site rules, for example, site layout, one-way systems and speed limits.

– Appropriate escalation processes in an emergency; the use of job appropriate protective clothing as well as specific devices, like operator restraints, goggles and noise-reducing ear protection; how to adapt to operating the forklift near excavations and overhead lines and other hazards.

– Training in the work to be carried out, for example loading the relevant forklift with loads which are normally found at that workplace, with the truck fitted with working platforms.

– Operational safety and the need for custody arrangements for keys.

Familiarisation training

This type of on the job learning is the final stage of forklift training, carried out onsite, under constant supervision, by a trainer or operative with the relative knowledge. It is extremely useful as it puts into practice everything that has been learned during basic and specific training.

This could include:

– Confidently showcase the skills already learned in basic and specific training, starting with simple tasks and moving on to more complex ones, under the pressure of working conditions.

– Applying all learning to the specific lift-truck activities of the employer.

– Demonstrating confidence in operating the forklift within the site layout, access to local emergency procedures and any other feature of the work which it is not practicable to teach in the classroom environment.

Basic Training Certificate

While there is no requirement to issue these certificates, they do provide crucial evidence that employees have attended the training and received an appropriate level of operating ability. The employee will need evidence of training if they change jobs as there is no such thing as a lift-truck ‘licence’.

On-going training and why it is useful

Machinery and technology are constantly evolving, so forklift operators should remain up to date with training legal requirements as some can become complacent and develop bad health and safety habits.

By booking refresher courses at agreed intervals, all employees operating forklift trucks within your company will be compliant at all times.

The role of training in H&S, compliance and risk assessing

The Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974 requires employers to provide any training or supervision to ensure the safety of their employees in the workplace is not compromised.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also focuses on situations where health and safety training is particularly important, for example when employees first start in employment or are exposed to new or increased risks as well as in need of refreshing their skills and knowledge.

As an employer, you may not be in a position to provide this training yourself so you must make arrangement for someone else to provide the necessary training.

This is where Hiremech can help you!

At Hiremech we are proud of the twenty years’ experience with all types of forklift trucks and the comprehensive driver-training package we can provide.

What do our training packages include?

– Forklift driver training delivered by industry accredited trainers
– Training in your workplace or at our training centre which is purposely built and equipped
– Compliance with Health & Safety legislation requirements
– Theory & practical assessments
– Choice of Counterbalance forklift training, from reach forklift, Flexi and powered pallet trucks to stackers and many other featured machinery training

We provide you with two location options for your driver training, it can either take place on-site at your work premises or at our purpose-built training centre. If you wish to have training delivered at your workplace, our qualified driving trainers can be booked to visit by appointment. Your equipment will be used during the training process.

Hiremech’s excellent training centre is set up with any equipment necessary including the adequate number of staff to ensure that the number of employees attending the training course receive quality training.

Why chose Hiremech for your training?

We have more than 20 years’ experience in forklift trucks and training and have collaborated with hundreds of different companies. Because we are so experienced in forklifts, we are the ideal choice to train your workforce. The quality of learning and pass rate is second to none so you can rest assured your business is in great hands at Hiremech.

How to book forklift training with Hiremech

Our customer testimonials speak for themselves and highlighting the excellent quality of the training you will receive from Hiremech, so do not hesitate to call our sales team today!

Our excellent sales team will guide you through an assessment of the type of forklift trucks you use and your employees’ levels of ability. This will help to determine the most appropriate driving course for each of your employees so you can get learning that is specifically tailored to your needs.

Ensure you are compliant with legal requirements by booking the required forklift training today and be reassured you will be fully compliant and your workforce will be trained up to deliver much-improved productivity for your business.

To make an enquiry please call us on 020 8880 3322 or email: sales@hiremech.co.uk and we will guide you through your options.

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How artificial intelligence is revolutionising the forklift industry

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Once upon a time, self-driving technology was a surreal concept that was only reserved for science fiction movies; it was also presented as something to be feared and a job killer for the working class. However, artificial technology is constantly being developed and the devices we use are slowly changing and improving the way we live. Driverless cars are hot news right now and while developers are making leaps and bounds in their development each day, they’re still not ready and safe enough to go to market for a few years to come.

However, the same can’t be said for the construction industry; automated guided vehicles (AGV) are currently being used in warehouses and factories across the world, especially in Europe. Forklifts, in particular, are essential pieces of equipment that make transporting heavy goods from point A to B so much easier and safer for the user; as fantastic as they are, artificial intelligence will only make these devices more efficient. As the conventional forklifts are manually operated, they can be subject to mistakes caused by human error, which is the biggest cause of work downtime, particularly in the manufacturing and construction industry. Artificial intelligence and self-driving forklifts can do wonders for company productivity, as it can speed up work speed and potentially increase profit margins. However, there are also fears that autonomous work vehicles could pose a safety risk and even put people out of their jobs. Here is a comprehensive guide to the impact of artificial intelligence in the forklift industry and how it can be used to change and revolutionise the building and construction world.

Where is AI being used in the construction industry?

Slowly but surely, technology is beginning to find its niche in the construction industry. While autonomous devices and systems are currently expensive to purchase, they are likely to be a worthwhile investment down the line. It’s estimated that artificial intelligence will lead to profit gains of up to 38% by 2035 and even sooner if bigger and faster technological discoveries are made. As the popularity of artificial intelligence rises and it saturates down into the markets, autonomous devices (such as forklifts) and other systems will gradually become more affordable for construction companies to invest in.

Artificial intelligence is making leaps and bounds in the world of construction; there are a variety of automated devices on the market that are easy to manage and make the running of day to day life so much simpler. AI forklifts use advanced computer technology to stack objects as well as load and unload items from trucks; they’re currently able to perform repetitive tasks and can track human movements and patterns at a basic level, which is crucial if a company is to avoid any collisions and injuries. In terms of speed, they’re efficient machines which is what attracts companies to them in the first place.

Machines aren’t the only aspect of the construction industry to receive an injection of artificial intelligence. AI is also being implemented in project planning, where 3D blueprints can allow builders to envisage how construction will look once it’s completed. Artificial intelligence is also being used in workplaces to monitor staff shortages and to collect data on the number of absences on certain days; it can even assess how the lower numbers will impact work productivity in certain areas.

Benefits of AI in the manufacturing industry

If artificial intelligence isn’t yet at its most advanced stage and incorporating it into the workplace can become expensive, then why bother using it at all? There are a surprising amount of benefits to using self-driving technology; workers will no longer have to shoulder the weight of heavy items when using devices such as pallet trucks.

AI forklifts remove the monotony of the workday as travelling back and forth between shelves and loading trucks can be an arduous task; as time passes, workers can quickly lose interest in the task at hand and become less time-efficient with their transportation. These issues are removed with AI forklifts as they can be programmed to make the same manoeuvres and journeys repeatedly without suffering from the same level of worker fatigue that humans have. The efficient machines undertake simple loading tasks, allowing a company to concentrate more energy and workers to be placed in areas that need it the most.

Artificial intelligence and the safety debate

There’s a surprising level of danger associated with operating a forklift and other construction equipment; a moment of fatigue or lack of concentration can have potentially disastrous consequences for a worker’s health. In 2018 alone, it’s estimated that 22% of all injuries incurred in the construction industry were due to improper use and handling of equipment. Forklifts often have to make long and dangerous journeys over floors with different floor textures; there’s also a risk of danger associated with using forklifts in conjunction with a truck tail lift, as well as transporting goods down steep hills. This is where artificial intelligence can be incredibly useful as intelligent machines can detect unstable floor textures and alter their speed accordingly, to avoid damaging any goods they are transporting; most importantly, these autonomous devices are driverless, meaning that the operator can’t be injured.

The intelligent forklift is also built with sensors that detect human presence, as well as their journey pattern in an attempt to avoid a collision. Currently, AI devices can mimic the movement of workers but not the intentions so are not able to adequately problem solve if a surprising issue should occur; this is problematic if a human injury or fall should occur. Fear of human injury is one of the crucial reasons why AI isn’t widely implemented across the construction industry as the motion detectors are still being developed; there have also been horror stories in the media of driverless cars failing to stop for pedestrians. There is also a question of ethics, as well as practical concerns about compensation if an injury is to occur, because it’s difficult to figure out who is held accountable in a driverless vehicle collision.

The quality of motion sensors and safety mechanisms can only improve in the coming years and getting to grips with operating the vehicles as soon as possible can only be advantageous. Many companies tackle the safety concern by allocating specific routes and areas for the autonomous forklifts and vehicles to operate in; these can be highlighted by markings on the ground. Companies could encourage staff to learn more about the AI devices in their health and safety briefing as well as their risk assessment forms.

What about job security?

Artificial Intelligence has forever been slated as a way for companies to keep costs down by making the jobs of many workers redundant but this argument isn’t as black and white as it seems; while some jobs (like those operating the machines) won’t be necessary, other vacancies will open up in other areas as the construction industry receives a paradigm shift in jobs that are perceived as important.

The time consuming and arduous tasks, such as those which involve operating machines, will be given over to machines and more skilled workers will be required in other areas of the company. It’s possible that the machines could create a lot more jobs that have a significantly higher salary; workers will be needed to re-programme the machines and also fix them if a fault should occur. For the near future, until their safety is guaranteed, workers will be needed to supervise their operation and ensure that the work environment remains as safe as possible while they are in motion.

To make sure these kind of jobs are available to everyone, companies might have to change their policy to ensure that those with fewer qualifications aren’t unjustly put out of a job. Companies could opt to train their employees on-site so that they are able to operate the AI forklifts. There could also be lower job entry requirements in order to combat the surge and abundance of artificial intelligence in the industry.

Future developments

So what does the future hold for AI and self-driving technology in the forklift and construction industry? The reality is that the possibilities are endless. It truly is an area of unharnessed potential that could really improve a company’s profit margin, as well as the happiness of the actual workers who operate there. The self-driving forklifts currently in operation are advanced for their time but engineers and workers will undoubtedly look back in ten years and be amazed at how far technology has progressed.

The technological aim for the future is on precision; it’s hoped that these machines will be able to do much more than transport goods and they will be able to perform tasks with much more accuracy. If an object should fall from a forklift, machines of the future could be able to correct their error and retrieve the dropped goods or maybe even catch them before they hit the ground.

In years to come, it’s hoped that safety won’t even be a concern and that the AI machines are seen as 100% reliable. This will require intelligent sensors that are able to detect a human presence long before a collision should occur; this will also require the machines to have an amazing problem-solving ability and to think more critically as a human would.

It’s hoped that humans can one day work collaboratively with AI devices. Voice recognition is already very advanced but it’s hoped that this will become even more precise; this way, devices will no longer have to be programmed to follow a certain route but can be given directions orally which they can then follow accurately and safely.

AI could also have great implications for a company’s logistics and data; AI could look at internet trends and current stock levels in order to work out how much stock to re-order, as well as which areas can be left to flourish.

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The definitive summer forklift maintenance guide

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At Hiremech, we know how important your forklifts are to you – they’re the lifeblood that keeps your operation running all year round. As with any machine, particularly one that you rely on, proper ongoing maintenance is an essential consideration.

You should already have a general maintenance program that applies all year round – but what are the specific seasonal maintenance considerations you should be making to keep your forklift/fleet running reliably?

Summer is basically upon us – so here’s your handy Hiremech summer forklift maintenance guide to make sure you’re properly prepared.

Checking the batteries

Without the battery operating at peak efficiency, your forklift is largely useless – so battery checks should be a part of your daily ongoing maintenance routine. But what about during the summer? What should you be particularly vigilant for?

In summer, the rising heat levels can cause an increase in a forklift battery’s likelihood for corrosion, especially if the battery is already mid-way or further through its service life. Low fluid levels are also a concern, due to the heat causing the battery fluid to begin to evaporate.

During summer, a part of your everyday battery checks should be to keep a note of the water levels in the battery cells. If the levels are low, top them up with water – first checking it is the correct pH. If fluid loss is consistent, you might want to consider replacing the battery for peace of mind.

Checking the oil

Checking your forklift’s oil is, again, an everyday maintenance check that is especially important during the summer. In summer, oil is at risk of overheating in through the pipework of your forklift, which can make your forklift be unreliable and unresponsive.

Heat is also a consideration for oil lines, which can crack and split under the pressure of the increased heat levels from the summer sun. This can lead to oil leaks, which make for a very unsafe working environment, as well as a forklift that you can’t rely on.

Make sure to check oil levels every day – ideally before the forklift is used and after it has been put away for the day. If your forklift is in constant use, the oil should be checked with every shift change.

Cooling is king

As with all vehicles, forklifts can be prone to overheating in the warm weather. The lack of relative breeze makes it difficult to get the necessary airflow through the engine. When the engine is starved of airflow, it can begin to operate sluggishly and might become prone to stalling.

There’s not much you can do to make the weather more breezy, but you should make sure your forklift’s radiator is in the best condition possible. Check every day for any cracks or damage that might hamper its efficiency, and be sure to check regularly for any debris blocking it – which should be removed immediately.

Cooling fans are also essential to prevent the forklift’s engine from overheating, so be sure to regularly check any belts and fans for signs of wear or damage. Any cracks, holes, fraying, or splitting should be reported immediately and repaired as soon as possible, to prevent failure which can lead to engine damage.

The damage of dust

During warm weather, dust becomes a serious consideration – particularly around logistics centres, warehouses, and factories, where forklifts are used most. Pallets being moved, dust being kicked up off the ground, and general air pollution become a concern during the warmer months.

When it rains, it serves to purify the air of this dust and other particulates. When it’s dry, they have free reign to clog up your forklift’s vents, pipes, and controls. Check regularly for signs of dust ingress, which might take the form of a choking engine or suddenly unreliable electrics.

Dust and grime are also much more likely to stick when it’s dry, so make sure your forklifts have the benefit of a regular washing to keep them as clean as possible. This isn’t just to make them look better, but to help aid visibility as much as possible.

Checking the tyres

Tyres are an essential maintenance checklist item all year round – and they should be checked as regularly as possible. Summer, however, presents some specific challenges for a forklift’s tyres. The excess heat can cause the rubber to become relatively brittle, especially if it’s cooling down overnight.

In time this can lead to fraying, splitting, and general tyre degradation – tyre damage is a serious concern as it can affect the handling of the forklift and potentially cause further damage. Tyres have a degree of allowance engineered into them to handle wear, however, you should be mindful to check them.

You may find that tyres wear much faster during the summer months. It might be worth considering changing the type of tyre you use on your forklift, to one that is better designed to cope with the temperature changes that summer can provide.

Checking the brakes

As with all things during summer, brakes can be prone to overheating when the temperature is excessive. Check your brakes as regularly as possible for any signs of excess wear, fade, or damage. Brakes that don’t operate efficiently are, naturally, a considerable safety hazard.

Brakes can also be prone to collecting an excessive amount of dust and grime in the warmer weather. The solution to this is to regularly check your forklift’s brake fluid, and keep it topped up as necessary. Also, regularly washing the forklift will help remove any accumulated grime which may harm braking efficiency.

What about electric forklifts?

Electric forklifts are rising in popularity, but what are the considerations you need to make during the summer?

Compared to traditional forklifts, electric forklifts are much simpler so you’re not going to have to worry about complicated engine management and mechanical parts failing to the same degree. So, what are your priorities?

Batteries

The primary consideration you’ll need to make with an electric forklift is to make sure that the battery is operating at the correct temperature. Batteries usually operate more efficiently in warmer weather, however hard work during an especially sunny day can put the battery under excess strain.

When a battery gets too hot, the first sign is it becoming less efficient. You will likely notice your battery providing you less range than you’re used to. As a battery continues to overheat, it becomes prone to become irreparably damaged – at which point the only option is replacement.

If you leave a battery to consistently overheat, there are even more risks that you’re running. The first is that the battery might begin to leak, which can cause damage to the rest of your forklift and the battery compartment. A battery that overheats to a high enough degree can also become volatile – so check it consistently.

To keep the battery as protected as possible, ensure it’s not exposed to the direct heat of the sun and that dust and particulates can’t easily find their way to it. Your forklift should have a closable battery compartment, if it doesn’t, it’s worth investing in a way to protect it, such as a cover.

Tyres and brakes

While an electric forklift doesn’t share the mechanical complexity of a traditional forklift, it does still have the same tyres and the same brakes to consider. Heat can cause both of these to become less efficient and prone to damage over time, so it’s highly important to check them on a regular basis.

Operators should be performing visual tyre checks at the start of every shift and the end of every shift, at a minimum, with a more involved tyre check at the workshop advisable bi-weekly at least. Brakes should be consistently monitored, and any fade, juddering or pulling reported and rectified immediately.

Checking for rust

Rust can be an issue for forklifts during the summer months – as Britain isn’t a totally dry climate, forklifts are still prone to getting wet, either from summer showers or morning dew if they’re left outside.

The issue is that when a still-wet forklift is exposed to the summer sun, it can hasten the corrosion process. It might be worth thinking about having your forklift rust-proofed – if not just for summer then as a general precaution to lengthen the useful service life.

Check for any bubbling corrosion around wheel arches, body panels, and anywhere that metal meets such as on the fork mechanism. Catching the signs of rust early can make it much easier to treat – if corrosion is left it will consume the whole forklift in time.

The human element

Remember your forklift operators in the summer months – whether you have a fleet of operators, or you’re an owner-operator yourself.

Remember to take regular breaks if you’re working in the direct sunshine, always have water available and drink throughout the course of the shift. Be mindful of glare and carry appropriate eye protection – forklifts are usually exposed, so protect any skin with sun cream to prevent burns.

Sudden summer showers can make the ground exceptionally slippery very quickly, so always be mindful to slow right down and pay extra attention when manoeuvring.

Contact Hiremech for help

If you need any more help, advice, or guidance about how to best keep your forklift or forklift fleet operational through the summer or any other season for that matter, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

At Hiremech we have unparalleled experience in all things forklifts – we can help you keep on the right track and ensure your forklift is as reliable as possible. Our friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable team is always on hand to help you with any advice or direction required.

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How reach trucks can improve warehouse efficiency

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Do you have a warehouse as part of your business? How do you feel about the current way it is used and run? Do you think you are getting maximum use out of the space and are you able to find and retrieve pallets quickly and easily?

Reach Trucks Hiremech Ltd

If you have asked yourself these questions and find yourself doubting the efficiency of your warehouse as a result, it might be time to consider hiring or buying a reach truck.

Particularly if the aisles in your warehouse are relatively small and close together, reach trucks can be your answer to quicker storage and retrieval operations, therefore allowing you to spend much more time on activities which add value, growth and progression to your business.

What are reach trucks?

Reach trucks are a type of forklift used specifically to reach items in a space with narrow aisles and often with high shelves. The most common places you will find them are in warehouses, where shelves are stacked high above our heads yet there isn’t much room to move around between racks.

Unlike a counterbalance truck, another type of forklift, these trucks can reach points that are usually impossible for other types of truck to get to.

Reach forklifts might look like balance would be a challenge for them, with their relatively small bodies yet the ability for the forks to stretch high into the sky, but actually this is not the case. The way they are designed, with their two outer legs to distribute the load and a small set of wheels at the rear, really helps with their balancing capabilities.

As the wheels are fixed on right below where the operator stands, the vehicle has a very tight turn radius, enabling it to move easily into smaller spaces where other trucks may not be able to go, yet still successfully reach high up places.

Essentially reach trucks are designed for people to use in warehouses due to their ideal combination of a maximum height on the lift and full freedom in terms of manoeuvrability.

How are reach trucks designed?

Reach trucks have a far more compact body than the usual counter-balance forklift you might see, even though the former’s wheel base length is usually the same as the latter’s. This is for the purpose already mentioned of being able to fit into tiny spaces.

Interestingly, the space for the operator actually varies depending on world geography. In North America, the operator stands up to use the truck, while in Europe the driver sits down sideways.

The reach truck has two outer legs in order to spread the load weight, and they may have one or two wheels per leg depending on the specific design.

How do reach trucks operate?

When ready to lift and transport a load, the operator will move the load backwards within the wheelbase. This is so as little of the load is sticking out as is possible, hence why reach trucks can operate in small spaces without knocking anything off the shelves.

Cleverly designed, the reach truck makes use of a scissor mechanism known as a pantograph, which means the forks and loads can extend forwards. So the operator will use this feature to reach in to shelving and racking.

The reach truck works by turning at a right angle so they can get up against the racking before reaching in to grab the needed pallet.

What are reach trucks used for?

Reach trucks are used predominantly in warehouses of all shapes and sizes. Most warehouses with narrow aisles would not have the space to fit and use any other type of forklift successfully, hence the need to invent the reach truck.

They really can squeeze themselves into tiny spaces. Their design allows them to operate in aisles less than around 2.5 metres wide, for instance.

With their design focus on stability and manoeuvrability, reach fork trucks can easily lift up to 2,500kg at any one time.

Even if they have a common use, this does not mean reach trucks can’t be used in other circumstances.

They can be operated outside, for example, except for when it’s raining. Unfortunately, because the machine is battery or electric powered, they cannot get wet.

Reach trucks could be used for the same sort of job as you might use a counter-balance forklift. The vehicle could also be fitted with extra attachments for specific lifting jobs.

Why are reach trucks useful?

1. They can reach into far places

As the name suggests, these trucks can reach their fork carriage way beyond the stabilising legs, therefore allowing them to reach much further into the shelving or racking.

2. They work successfully in tight spaces

Most warehouses are packed to the brim so that the space paid for is used efficiently and value for money is maintained. The only time this can become problematic is when needing to retrieve a pallet stored high up or deep in the racking.

This is why reach trucks were invented. They can retrieve these tucked away items with their ability to operate in extremely tight environments while often being able to lift over nine metres because of their stabilising legs.

3. Counterbalance weights aren’t necessary

Contrary to what you might believe, these forklifts do not need any counterbalance weights because their stabilising legs are designed with such precision.

How can they make your warehouse more efficient?

While there are other situations where you may find a reach truck useful, their design really does fit perfectly for situations where you have a high density of storage and need to both place and retrieve goods quickly. Aka a warehouse.

Some might say how on earth does the operator see what they are doing if they are trying to reach a pallet nine metres above them in the centre of a rack?

It’s a problem easily fixed. Reach trucks can be fitted with cameras attached to the fork carriage. These cameras transmit signals to a screen which the operator can see, therefore assisting them in picking up the right item.

So all in all, reach trucks are a fantastic way of enabling you to use maximum space in your warehouse while still being able to store away and then find whatever you need quickly.

The benefits of reach trucks

You might now be thinking about the situations in which you might make use of a reach truck, but what about the specific benefits of having your own?

1. They solve a problem

The most obvious benefit of a reach truck, but still worth mentioning, is their ability to stretch up to nine metres to retrieve items. Their reach capability is better than any other forklift.

2. They are cheap

Thinking from a business perspective, reach trucks work extremely efficiently. They do not need a lot of fuel to run. They are also designed to operate with high efficiency and low maintenance costs.

This means after your initial investment in the vehicle, there will only be a minimal cost associated with running your reach truck.

3. They are easy to operate

Similarly to their electric truck cousins, reach trucks are very easy to operate and to run.

They are designed with a side-seated operator position which gives the operator more visibility of the fork tips when carrying out their job.

4. They are quiet

Keen not to buy a forklift which creates even more noise disruption in your warehouse? CAT reach trucks include mast technology, meaning they are really quiet to use and shouldn’t result in any noise complaints, no matter where your warehouse is located.

5. They allow for more storage

A wider benefit of deciding to hire a reach truck is your newfound ability to increase your rack storage in your warehouse.

Even if you are putting some money into your new truck, you will make that back by being able to get even better value for your money in your warehouse.

Do you need a licence to drive a reach truck?

Like any other forklift, you do not need a driving licence to operate a reach truck. However, any driver must have the right training and certification to operate one safely.

Anyone wanting to operate a reach truck should seek an accredited course from recognised institutions like RTITB, AITT, ALLMI and ITSAAR.

Users will need to choose the right certification for their forklift since each one operates and works differently.

It is unlikely with a reach truck, but in the eventuality you were going to drive it on a public road, even for a very short stretch, further training would be needed.

Any employer must take the responsibility of organising this certification and training before any of their employees start operating a reach truck, or any other forklift for that matter.

Choosing the right reach truck from Hiremech

Maybe you’re at the point in your decision-making process where you definitely want to have a reach truck to use in your warehouse, but now must decide which one to go for.

CAT reach trucks are known as the industry leader for their incredible range of innovative features. This includes, in particular, the steering travel compensation, which essentially adjusts steering sensitivity automatically. It works in relation to speed of travel so that sharp turns and accidents in the truck are avoided.

If you feel confident that you have now chosen your reach truck, but also have a need for other types of forklifts, then make sure you consider all of your options.

Gas forklifts, electric forklifts, diesel forklifts, pallet trucks, and flexi trucks all serve different uses and solve a range of problems you might be facing.

Get in touch, we’d be happy to talk to you about reach trucks, or any of your other forklift needs.

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Forklift finance – leasing vs. purchasing: which is best for your business?

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A forklift is an essential piece of equipment for many businesses, and it can be difficult to know whether to lease or purchase. Not all leasing options are the same, however, nor are they all suitable for every business.

So let’s discuss some of the most common leasing options available, in order for you to determine what’s going to be the best choice for you.

Long term casual hire

This is a more relaxed way of hiring a forklift – in many cases, you won’t even need to sign a contract. Generally, casual hire is most practical over a six-plus month period.

Casual hire will usually encompass all of your maintenance and service costs over the course of the period you have the forklift. This means keeping the forklift working reliably isn’t going to be an extra expense you need to factor into your finances. Often there will be some sort of provision for breakdown cover as well – though what is covered and the circumstances damage will be repaired is dependant on your forklift supplier, so make sure you ask.

Often there will be exclusions for customer damage, as well as “consumable” items such as replacement forks, tyres, and windscreens (where applicable).

The benefits

The primary benefit is, of course, that you’re not tied into any sort of contract. You can often have a notice period to terminate of just one month. This makes it a particularly good choice for newer businesses still finding their feet, or businesses that don’t have a consistent need for a forklift.

You can also change your forklift relatively easily. You might need to do this if the requirements you have for the forklift change. Many forklifts are designed to be optimised for certain tasks, so a more efficient machine may be waiting for you if your circumstances change – for example, the need to be able to load/unload heavier weight.

Access to ongoing support is another clear benefit to consider. Often forklifts need to be running constantly in order to fulfil orders and load/unload efficiently. If yours should happen to stop working for any reason, you’ll be able to contact the support team. They will be able to ensure your business stays operational while the forklift is repaired.

Also, your annual services are covered by your payments – so you won’t need to think about the cost of keeping the forklift working reliably. Consumables are usually not covered, so costs such as fuel and tyres will still need to be accounted for. Those services will be scheduled on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about missing them.

The drawbacks

You may find that you’ll get better rates with other forms of leasing. The reason for this is that as there is no contract and very little notice period, it’s considered more of a liability. As with all things, that means the cost has to go up. You might consider this an acceptable investment for improved convenience, but it’s something to consider.

You also probably won’t get a brand new forklift via long term casual hire. Newer machines are usually earmarked for more rigid contracts. The forklift you get will be serviced thoroughly and comprehensively checked to make sure it’s fit for purpose before you take delivery, just know it’s likely to be used.

Lease purchase

order picker forklift

Lease purchase involves you ultimately purchasing the forklift, however, you’re paying for it in instalments. It’s important to be aware from the outset, that if you choose the lease purchase option that you’ll not benefit from any maintenance or servicing cover of any kind as a part of the package – so the running costs are all on you.

Lease purchase is not going to be the right option for everyone, however, if you want to actually own the forklift without needing to pay the whole cost up front, it may be your best option.

The positives

Lease purchase can offer you much more favourable rates of repayment compared to other forms of leasing. The reason for this is when you lease purchase, you’re paying for the forklift itself and nothing else. There’s no ongoing maintenance or repair work to cover, so the monthly price will just be the forklift and interest.

You also get a much wider selection of options as to the forklift you want. Whether it’s brand new or slightly used, the choice is yours. You can easily spread the cost of purchasing it over a time period that suits you – generally anywhere from three to seven years. This means it’s more accessible for smaller businesses as a path to forklift ownership.

And, of course, you get to own the forklift at the end of your repayment term. When you make your final payment, the forklift will be officially yours and you can do with it what you please. If you take care of the forklift well, for the rest of the forklift’s usable life you’ll only have to consider ongoing maintenance, fuel, and consumables.

The drawbacks

Lease purchase will not cover any maintenances, servicing, or breakdown cover. You can generally purchase warranties and additional breakdown cover, but they’ll be extra costs for you rather than included as a part of your lease payment. You’re paying for the forklift and nothing more – so if it’s costly to maintain, you’ll be liable for those bills.

You’ll also be committed to your contract, so think long and hard before taking out a lease on a forklift. Think about if you’re going to be able to comfortably manage the repayments over the course of the lease term. If you fall behind, the vehicle will almost certainly be repossessed and you could end up with a negative credit rating for your business.

You’re also choosing one forklift per lease, so make sure you choose wisely. That forklift is then the one you have until the period of the lease is up and the machine is paid for. If your needs change and your forklift no longer matches them for any reason, there’s nothing you can do about it other than take out a fresh lease.

It’s also important to remember that you’ll be subject to approval. So, terms and conditions will apply and you will have to be able to comply with all the pre-requirements for approval. You’ll need a good financial history, and be able to provide proof of consistent financial buoyancy over a period of time – this makes it an impractical option for new businesses.

Contract hire

Rise in demand for forklift operators

Contract hire can be thought of as a bridge between hiring and lease purchase. There is a more concrete contract drawn up, which you’ll be bound to, however, at the end of the contract’s term, you will not own the forklift. This has both its advantages and its disadvantages, depending on your requirements.

Maintenance, servicing, and breakdowns will generally be provided for as a part of your contract payments. The same exceptions will likely apply as long term casual hire, however – customer damage and consumables such as tyres, forks, and windscreens if they’re fitted.

The advantages

Firstly you’ll be able to get access to very generous rates, because you’re entering a secured contract so you’re going to be considered less of a liability. This means that the repayments should generally be lower. As there is a flat repayment charge, it makes it much easier for your business to budget accurately going forward.

You’ll get access to a full backup service and support, to keep your business operating efficiently even if the forklift stops working. The specifics will depend on the contract, but this may include rapid-repairs, or providing you access to another forklift that you can use while yours is being repaired.

Your annual services and many ongoing maintenance costs will be covered as a part of your repayments, which means you won’t have to worry about being liable for any larger mechanical bills that might arise. You will have to cover consumables such as tyres and forks, and in the event that the forklift is damaged by a customer.

The drawbacks

You will be committed to your contract for its full duration. So you should make sure your business is financially healthy, and that you project you’ll be able to comfortably make your payments until the term is over. If you default on your repayments, you could lose the forklift and be prevented from leasing equipment or getting access to finance in the future.

You will also not be able to alter your vehicle if your needs change. If you need a bigger forklift, you won’t be able to “swap” it under the same contract. When you’re choosing your forklift, it makes sense to invest a little more upfront to make sure you get a machine that will be able to handle your projected growth over the next few years.

You’ll also need to be positive you’re able to successfully meet the lender’s criteria to be approved for the financing. This means being able to satisfy any proof they may need about your current situation or your financial history. Also, bear in mind that you will not own the forklift – when the contract ends, it will be returned.

Get in touch

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Hiremech today if you require more professional advice about the right forklift leasing options for your business.

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How online shopping is driving demand for forklifts

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Online shoppers are increasingly demanding fast delivery times and goods delivered to their doorsteps within hours of tapping to confirm a purchase on a smartphone. That means more and more loads need to be handled quickly and by fewer people, and inside the warehouses where these products are stored and picked, there is a surge in demand for electric-powered forklifts to move goods quickly and the people who operate them.

We now live in a world where we can click a button and have something delivered to our door in a matter of hours. Fast delivery is just part of the picture and customers also expect to be able to return goods quickly and easily which also adds to the demand for materials handling equipment. Distribution centres rely on forklifts to fulfil growing domestic and international demand, and all of this is being fuelled by online shopping trends. The fast turnover of warehouse stock is driving investment in forklift trucks across the UK and in all manner of sectors.

 

A changing supply chain

High street stores and shopping outlets used to be the distribution centres for almost every consumer product you could think of. The rise of online shopping is increasingly bypassing the need for bricks and mortar stores and the way in which consumers are now demanding ever-increasing choices when browsing for products means that retailers must now stock more products than they could ever fit into a traditional store. This has shifted the way in which supply chains are designed and pushed stock holding out into massive warehouses and distribution centres situated close to major transport links and population centres.

All of the things we buy online – and in ever greater numbers – need to be stored, packed, picked and posted to the end customer. So there is a much greater onus upon warehouse efficiency and productivity to move goods faster than ever, and in a way which reduces energy consumption. If you take a look around your house and consider a raft of recent purchases you have made, almost all of them will have been touched by a forklift at some point during their journey to your home. And all this will have been done with precision and speed, not to mention efficiency.

 

Forklifts that meet the need for flexibility

 

Continued growth in the online retail market then means that shorter delivery and return times are now a feature of everyday life. This is driving a need for scalability to meet seasonal and unexpected sales peaks and means that flexibility is required in every aspect of warehouse operations, including the deployment of forklifts. Space within warehouses is crucial to store more and more products meaning aisles have become narrower and stock needs to be stored at height.

Tighter spaces within distribution centres have meant an increase in demand for the likes of flexi and narrow aisle forklift trucks. Flexi and narrow aisle forklifts are specially designed to work in confined spaces and are particularly manoeuvrable meaning they can seriously boost productivity and the usable space within a warehouse.

The demand for warehouse real estate has never been higher. This is being driven by the continued boom in ecommerce and indeed changes to supply chains, so many companies are opting to reconfigure the space they already possess. This makes the need for flexible forklifts which can work efficiently in smaller spaces all the more important and is changing the way forklifts are used in these centres.

The growing need for forklift efficiency

 

Efficiently moving crates and pallets around massive warehouses is now more than ever critical to a retailer’s business planning. Retail margins are slim and shipping costs ever increasing, for example as offers of free or one-hour delivery continue to rise in popularity. Such delivery options are increasingly used to gain a competitive edge. This means that companies are constantly striving to take costs out of the supply chain.

Forklifts must be more efficient to run than ever before to boost productivity. This can be achieved by maximising energy efficiency and by ensuring forklifts are more productive and more flexible in the operations that they can perform. Enabling trucks and operators to reach goods in narrow aisles and at height maximises the amount of storage available and so increases efficiency within the supply chain. Smaller, and more agile and capable forklifts are in high demand because of these demands.

 

Inside the warehouse

Inside the warehouse

The likes of Amazon fulfil customer orders with rigorous speed and efficiency from the point of order to final delivery. Inside the warehouse, the process begins with a delivery truck being unloaded by an electric forklift. Once the goods are unloaded, each item is scanned and moved once more by a forklift to designated storage bays.

Pickers are then employed to retrieve goods in order to fulfil customer orders and are moved by a forklift to conveyors which transport items to the packing area. Once the goods are packed, a forklift will scoop up the shipments and move them towards trucking bays where they are loaded and ready for delivery. Computers keep track of every item and today’s customers increasingly expect to be able to track their order in real time.

 

Improvements in battery technology

 

Just as electric vehicles which take to the roads have benefited enormously from advances in battery technology in the last few years, electric forklifts are now able to operate for far longer on a single charge.

It was only recently that indoor materials handling equipment needed to be powered by large, heavy batteries that required frequent recharging. Now electric forklift trucks are an essential feature of the modern warehouse, both to meet regulatory clean air requirements and provide an optimal solution for moving goods from an efficiency and cost perspective.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries allow forklifts to run two to three times longer than previous batteries. Trucks are increasingly being fitted with telematics equipment enabling operators and planners to monitor the vehicle’s performance and movements in real time and adjust settings or perform on-the-spot maintenance as required.

Recent efficiency improvements in electric forklifts now mean they can be operated without surrendering any of the performance of each unit. Technological advances have also improved the durability of electric forklifts which makes them a much sounder business investment than in the past.

 

Rise in demand for forklift operators

Rise in demand for forklift operators

 

Rapid order turnarounds have created a surge in demand for skilled and experienced forklift operators. Forklift drivers are a crucial element within any supply chain. If forklifts are in demand then so too are the people required to operate them. Operating a forklift requires a high level of skill and aptitude. Driving a forklift is not an easy job and differs markedly from other roles within a warehouse.

Training for such operators must be thorough to ensure health and safety requirements are met and to enable goods to be handled quickly and with precision. Some firms have begun trialling Virtual Reality technologies as a way to quickly and effectively train forklift drivers. The training can be done anywhere where there is an internet connection meaning employees don’t have to travel to training centres or join a waiting list for in-demand training.

Technology continues to change the way forklifts are used. Barcode scanners and data gathering on the movement of goods ensures information flows throughout the supply chain. Logistics and materials handling has never been more crucial in today’s fast-moving, online retail world. That means that the forklift, and the people who drive them, have never been more in important or in more demand.

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Different types of forklifts – The Ultimate Guide

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Different types of forklifts - The Ultimate Guide

Forklifts are powerful vehicles designed to move heavy loads around warehouses and construction sites. The wide variety of models can make it difficult to choose which forklift to rent or buy, so we have put together this useful guide to take you through the most popular forklifts available. By providing you with an overview of the machines available, we will help you decide which forklift suits your requirements.

 

1) Warehouse Forklift

Gas forklifts

 

The warehouse forklift is one of the most common types of lifting machinery. The compact design features extending twin forks to the front, making it a popular choice for warehouses with a large inventory. The forklifts are designed to easily move balanced materials and pallets, as well as unloading and loading items into delivery vehicles.

2) Side Loader

A side loader is a subtype of the warehouse forklift category. They are most commonly found in manufacturing environments with large and heavy items.

There are two main variations available, an enclosed cab for outdoor use and the more common stand-up version for indoor use. The sideways operation is designed so the operator stands in a compartment which allows the loader to unload or load objects on its side. There is also a multi-way version available with each wheel designed to rotate by 90°, this allows easy transportation of a load in any direction.

This design enables the forklift to drive alongside racking to load or unload, without having to turn in the tight space. Side loaders are suitable for units with narrow aisles such as those holding timber, steel or pipes. Their ability to carry long and heavy loads within narrow aisles makes them a popular choice for a number of industries.

 

3) Counterbalance Forklift

Eletric

Industrial counterbalance forklifts are the most common option for indoor warehouses, although their versatile design also allows them to work outdoors on stable surfaces. The counterbalance forklift features dual forks to the front and a weight to the rear, which is designed to counterbalance the load weight. Unlike some machines, the counterbalance forklifts do not have extending arms, this gives the forklift the ability to position itself directly against the load.

There are a few different counterbalance designs, such as the 3-wheel variant which allows the machine to turn in a circle and the stand-up machines which make it easier for operators to climb in and out between loads. Although diesel and gas machines are available, the 3-wheel designs are almost all electric. These electric machines incorporate an economical motor, which increases productivity while offering relatively low costs of operation.

4) Telehandler

The telehandler is also known as a reach forklift or telescopic forklift. It is designed with a boom and extendable arm, which allows the machine to function as both a crane and a forklift. Their single telescopic boom means these machines are much more powerful and versatile than standard forklifts.

They are popular in many situations because of the wide range of available attachments, such as lift tables, buckets, muck grabbers and pallet forks. This versatility ensures the telehandler is able to reach into very tight spaces at awkward angles, where a normal forklift would not reach.

They are ideal for use within agriculture, or any industry which requires large loads to be moved. Their flexibility means they have started to replace rough terrain forklifts on many construction sites.

5) Industrial Forklift

 

The industrial forklift is a large capacity machine which provides a traditional warehouse style forklift with some of the abilities of a telehandler. Although it is unable to reach all the angles provided by a telehandler, it can lift heavier loads much higher than standard warehouse forklifts. They are also designed to be much narrower than telehandlers and warehouse forklifts.

 

6) Rough Terrain Forklift

A rough terrain forklift is designed for specific outdoor use on rugged and uneven surfaces. The trucks feature a counterbalance to the rear which prevents overbalancing while ensuring the machine can be easily driven in mud, snow or ice. They are common machines on construction sites, where their heavy lift capacities are particularly useful. They have a high load capacity of 16,000kg, although the Kalmer forklift can lift an impressive 90,000kg.

The trucks feature strong pneumatic tyres which enable them to navigate difficult terrains. The oversized inflatable tyres with thicker threads provide improved balance and stability, allowing materials to be safely transported across difficult sites. They also have a powerful engine so the machine can reach higher speeds with improved manoeuvrability.

 

7) Pallet Jacks

Pallet

 

Pallet jacks are also known as pump trucks, and their small design is not capable of lifting large loads. Instead, the specialised design has a very small footprint which ensures it fits into tight spaces. Although there is a sacrifice in power, the low cost of the pallet jacks makes them an ideal option for smaller spaces. There is a wide range of pallet jacks available, including low profile machines, all-terrain jacks, long and short forked and those with narrow or wide fork spreads.

They are commonly used in storage facilities and warehouses to enable operators to move pallets quickly and easily. They feature a set of forks which slide beneath a pallet, and the operator then pumps the handle to lift these forks from the ground. There are front wheels positioned below the forks which are then vertically separated as the pallet is raised. Although, if you are looking for a more efficient option, there are powered options available, which improve the speed and handling of taller stacks of pallets.

 

8) Stackers

Stackers are specifically designed for small spaces and work in a similar way to pallet jacks, although they are able to reach much higher. There are many types available which are all designed for specific uses including wrap over stackers, powered stackers and electric straddle stackers.

They are usually electrically powered and are designed to allow the worker to walk behind the machine. The machine is then steered into position using a convenient handle. The compact chassis and controlled handling make them ideal for many applications, including order picking, vehicle loading, block stacking and transporting pallets.

9) Order Picker

order picker forklift

 

An order picker is similar to a stacker, as it is also used to pick and deliver items within storage areas. A standard order picker is designed to reach heights of 32ft, which is ideal for lifting people to the top of warehouse racks. As modern businesses aim to lower their distribution costs, these are increasing in popularity thanks to their ability to efficiently pick items at great heights.

The design makes them ideal for warehouses and storage facilities which hold customers’ orders. They are electrically powered and lift the operator on an elevated driver platform. This allows one or two items to be lifted rather than a full load or pallet.

10) Reach Fork Truck

Reach Forklifts

This forklift is mainly used indoors within warehouses, as their low clearance levels mean they would struggle outdoors. The reach fork trucks feature extendable forks which can reach into the racking, unlike standard forklifts which do not extend beyond the compartment.

Their extended reach height and space-saving design is ideal for any warehouses which use high rise pallet racking within narrow aisles. The trunk of the machine will shorten itself by pulling the load in towards the vehicle, to improve stability and manoeuvrability to allow these machines to safely lift up to 2,500kg.

11) Electric and Utility Vehicles

There are many types of electric and utility vehicles available, which make it possible to complete a variety of tasks. Whether you need to move items to a new facility or just across a warehouse, their versatility and low running costs are making them a popular choice for many sites. There are a variety of options available which are ideal for both industrial and agricultural applications.

 

Indoor or Outdoor Forklifts

If you plan on using the machine indoors, an electric forklift will be the best option. These are powered by batteries and are designed to provide enough power to cover a standard-length shift. Their environmentally friendly design is cheaper to run, and they are very quiet when compared to other forklifts.

Outdoor forklifts tend to be either gas or diesel powered. The gas forklifts are designed to run using gas canisters, which makes them quick and simple to refuel. Although they are cheaper to purchase than an electric forklift, gas is an expensive fuel and will require appropriate storage. A gas forklift can be used for short periods indoors if the area is well-ventilated.

Alternatively, diesel forklifts provide another low-cost option which is also quick and simple to refuel. These machines cannot be used indoors due to their emissions, instead, they are designed for tough outdoor terrain. They are commonly used in environments where large heavy loads need transporting, although they can also be used for towing and pushing.

There are several types of forklifts available, which vary in terms of their lift capacity, dimensions, fuel type, tyres and reach. To help you decide which forklift is best for your site, you will need to consider factors such as the capacity required, the access to the site and the terrain. By considering every aspect, you will be able to decide which forklift will perform efficiently and safely.

We are proud to have more than twenty years’ experience providing forklifts and are committed to offering our customers a personalised service. Our team will discuss your specific requirements and budget so that we can supply the right forklift for your task. To find out more about the wide range of forklifts which we have for sale or rent, please contact our experienced team.

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Common Questions about Forklifts

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Questions about Forklifts

Can electric forklifts be used in the rain?

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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