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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