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Forklift Selection – Choosing the Right Forklift for Your Business

Filed under: Forklift Basics

Choosing the right forklift is important for your business. It affects everything from operation costs, productivity, employee morale and stock management.

There are a large range of forklifts, and each one is designed to be used for specific jobs.

So how do you know what type you need for your business?
Forklift Selection

There are several important factors to consider when choosing the right forklift for you:

1. Environment

Your business environment will influence the type of forklift, tyre selection and fuel type. Consider the floor surface and conditions the forklift will be working in:

  • Smooth or rough surfaces?
  • Inside, outdoors or both?
  • How many hours per day will the forklift be used?

2. Load Size / Capacity

It would be a big mistake to choose a forklift with a maximum lift capacity that is below your requirements. It is important to look at:

  • What stock will the forklift be handling?
  • What is your average load weight?
  • What is the heaviest load you need to lift?
  • What is the width of your loads?

The type of load also matters as there are specific forklift attachments that can enhance a standard forklift and help you move the load more efficiently.  There are many types of attachments available: appliance clamps, carton clamps, paper roll clamps, etc.
Sideshift is another feature which will allow you to move any load left and right, without having to move the truck. This allows for more accurate load placements.

3. Height

Forklift selection lift capacitySimilar to maximum load, you want to ensure you choose a forklift which will meet your height restrictions.

  • What is your typical lift height?
  • What is the highest point the forklift needs to reach?
  • Are there any height restrictions to consider? (eg: ceiling beams or low hanging lights)

You must also take into consideration the collapsed height of the mast, if you require the forklift to move underneath a fixed height structure (eg: a garage or container door).

Also check your warehouse height and aisle width requirements, as this will greatly assist you in finding the right unit.

4. Fuel type

There are three types of fuel options – electric, gas or diesel.

Electric forklifts will cost more initially, but you will reap the rewards over time as they have a longer life span and cheaper consumption compared to other types of forklifts. They also operate very quietly and produce no emissions, therefore are recommended for working indoors or in cold climates.

Gas or diesel forklifts can lift much bigger loads and move faster. Diesel forklifts are strongly recommended if the forklift will be used for heavy lifting or outdoors.

With gas forklifts you have the choice of LPG or CNG – both are quick to refuel and have a long lifespan.

5. Tyre selection

There are various types of tyres available for forklifts. The most common are solid or pneumatic, but there are also white non-marking tyres and cushioned tyres – each with their own specific use and suited to certain environments.

Forklift tyre selection

Choosing the right tyres will impact on your forklift’s handling and safety.

For more information, see our Forklift Tyres Guide.

6. Ergonomics

High quality adjustable seating is important as forklift operators are sitting in their machines for hours at a time.

Investing in quality ergonomics will lessen the likelihood of injuries, such as back pain, which can be caused by repetitive tasks performed in uncomfortable seating.

7. New or Used?

If you think your forklift will be used for more than four hours per day – a leased or new forklift will be much more suitable for you. In this case, the type of forklift you require and your budget will determine which option is the best.

However, if you won’t use your forklift every day - and when you do it’s only for about an hour or two - then a quality used machine is the smartest economical option.


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Next entry: Safety Fail of the Week: Lifting a forklift with another forklift

Previous entry: Changes to Australian Standards affecting Forklift Manufacturing (AS 2359.6)

4 comments

Hi there, my factory has the necessity to use an explosion proof forklift, but I dont know which choose, electric or diesel. Do you have any suggestion in this regard?

Best regards.

Alex
August 11, 2014 - 4:43 pm

Hi Alex,

Explosion proof forklifts come in both electric and diesel as you have specified. Your choice really depends on your application needs.

What type of loads are you lifting? What capacity? Are you working indoors or outdoors, or both?

AAL Admin
August 13, 2014 - 3:33 pm

                       
                It’s helpful, thank you

Thuong
July 29, 2015 - 3:21 pm

I agree that your business environment will influence the type of forklift you buy. You also said that it will depend on if you use smooth or rough surfaces. I think it’s a good idea to choose a forklift that is easy to see out of, for safety purposes.

Cindy Tesler
December 02, 2016 - 8:53 am

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