Improve Performance Forklift

When you purchase a forklift, it is very rarely with the thought that you are instantly going to need to modify it or otherwise optimize it to make that much more worth your initial investment. After all, you just spent a lot of money on purchasing it, so it really needs to be worth it before you ever even get it rolled into your facility.

Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to look for additional ways to continually optimize your forklift in order to get a better overall return on investment.

Do you want to get the most bang for your buck out of your forklift?

Good, because we have a few tips that may help you do just that…

Put the right forklift on the job

When purchasing a forklift, you need to ensure that it is already equipped to handle the tasks you are going to give it.

If you are generally just toting around smaller pallets or lightweight items, there is no real reason to go out and spend a fortune on the biggest, most powerful forklift. Ultimately, your forklift can be further modified over time as the need calls for it.

Also, while you do not need to buy the biggest and most expensive forklift you can find, you should also consider that you will need some room to grow over time. So, try to find a happy medium right from the beginning and build onto it as your needs grow.

Perform pre-shift checks

Before every new shift begins, you should spend just a few minutes giving your machinery a quick maintenance check.

Not only does doing this ensure that your forklift is safe to be operated during the shift, it also helps you to pinpoint corrosion, electrical shorts and other mechanical failures before they escalate and create a much larger problem such as permanent damage. When these issues are found, simply rotate the machine out of operation until the proper repairs are made.

Check the tires, the battery, and any visible wiring or other electronics on the forklift. Ensure that safety harnesses work properly and there are emergency items onboard such as a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.

Keep your liftrucks clean

If you really want to optimize your ROI of the purchase of your forklift, keep it clean!

Yes, mechanical issues are absolutely critical but did you know that a lot of those mechanical issues are actually caused by a failure to keep the forklift clean and free of debris?

That’s right, every time your forklift is exposed to the elements such as mud, water, salt, sand, etc… it all builds up and can clog up gears, rust critical components and will also decrease your resale value should you ever need to trade it in or sell it for something better.

Spray down the undercarriage, clean the operator’s cabin, clear the chassis of debris and make sure the chains that pull the mast are unobstructed and not rusted out.

AGV AMR

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have been a useful piece of robotic machinery in warehouses and fulfillment centers across just about every industry since the 1950s. They are far from being a new invention but they have advanced greatly in the time that they have been around.

In fact, they have advanced so much over the years that they have even spawned off various iterations of the traditional design.

This is where the Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) comes into play. While AGVs serve their purpose well, they are not as advanced, flexible or cost-effective as AMRs.

Both of these machines serve the same role; to move objects from one place to another with limited human interaction.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that they do things a bit differently…

Navigation

AGVs have rather limited functionality in regard to the paths they can take to complete any given task.

The navigation system on an AGV can be thought of as a bit like a train. It can get everything from Point A to Point B quickly and efficiently, but in order to do this, it needs rails to guide it as it cannot freely navigate.

Similar to a train on a set of tracks, the AGV must be guided along a premapped course via software paired with various sensors onboard the AGV as well as attached to magnetic strips that must be physically laid on the ground.

Because of this, AGVs are not very flexible when it comes to introducing new routes and picking orders. Making such changes would require the machines to not only be reprogrammed but also all of the physical elements of their navigation process would need to be rearranged. Doing so can cost businesses time and money as they rush to implement the new routes.

In comparison, an AMR is capable of navigation without any physical tracks to guide it. Instead, the AMR relies on maps that the software onboard the machine creates as it learns the layout of the floorspace or from maps that have been manually uploaded to the system. In this way, an AMR navigates itself in a similar way to how a car uses GPS to guide the driver where it should go to get to their destination efficiently and without obstruction via a pre-loaded map and address the driver wants to arrive at.

The best part about the way the AMR navigates in comparison to the AGV is that if it’s cameras or sensors notice an obstruction in its path such as a person or another piece of machinery, the onboard system can immediately redirect the machine along a different path at a moment’s notice.

Flexibility

Simply put, AMRs are much more flexible than their AGV counterparts due to the fact that their navigation system is more fleshed out and does not have to follow a set route in order to complete its tasks.

AGVs on the other hand, they require a very strict and predetermined route… and altering the physical aspects that go into mapping this route for the AGV can be a bit disruptive to business and potentially cost a bit of money through lost time to make it happen.

AMRs require only a few tweaks to their software to completely change the course that the AMR is used to following. And the best part is that making this change can be done on the fly so long as you have but a few minutes to spare.

This ability alone can easily free up time of your employees to focus on more pressing matters around the warehouse.

Cost

Yes, AMRs contain more advanced technology than your typical AGV. And you might think that this is reflected in the cost of the machine.

However, even with all of the latest tech onboard, AMRs are still usually much cheaper upfront and in the long run when compared to an AGV.

The main reason for this is that an AMR doesn’t require all of the magnetic strips, wires and other critical components that an AGV needs in order to put it to work. Honestly, an AMR will usually pay for itself with a quick ROI, most of the time, within the first few months of service. So even the upfront costs balance themselves out in a short period of time.

Forklift Winter Season

Sometimes, your forklifts are not used solely in a temperature-controlled environment. This means that your forklifts may be subjected to inclement weather from time to time… and so will your forklift operators.

When this is the case, it requires a bit more attention to detail and some other requirements that would otherwise be a non-issue. This is especially true during the winter season as the cold weather comes with its own set of risks to safe forklift operation.

For this blog post, we have gathered a few pointers to help your forklift operators get through the winter…

Train your staff

Not every region in the country experiences a cold season and the ones that do, don’t usually deal with it year-round. So, not every forklift operator is accustomed to working in cold weather. And if they haven’t, it can be a bit difficult to get acclimated to all that it entails. And the ones who do have experience maintaining and operating a forklift in winter weather conditions could probably use a refresher every so often.

For this reason, it is a good idea to ensure that there is a solid training program available to them. Trust us, you and your employees will be thankful for the training the very first time that they encounter a steep icy slope on a forklift!

Ease of operation

Operating a forklift is a task that is full of potential to cause stress. And when your employees are stressed, they may make mistakes using poor or rash judgment in an effort to push through that stress.

When you combine that initial stress with hazardous weather they rarely deal with, you have a disaster waiting to happen.

To put them a bit more at ease while operating these pieces of heavy machinery, show them how to work the cabin heater, ensure they have gloves and other warm clothing before they pull the forklift out into the cold weather.

Allow breaks when needed

As we previously mentioned, your forklift operators are already under a lot of pressure and are probably stressed out. Adding freezing cold weather to the mix is just fuel to the fire, no pun intended.

To help avoid burn-out from all the stress of working in such conditions, make sure that you are providing your operators with plenty of breaks throughout the day so that they can rest, recharge, and refocus.

Cold weather maintenance

If you want to keep your forklifts in operation throughout one of the busiest, and coldest times of the year, make sure that you train them properly on the ins and outs of taking care of a forklift in cold weather conditions.

This type of training is going to be quite a bit different than your run of the mill general maintenance lessons.

In colder climates, heavy machinery experiences different kinds of problems that simply do not pose an issue in warmer climates. This could be anything from a fast-draining battery to chunking tires.

Whatever the reason for maintenance, your forklift operators should be able to readily take notice of the problem and be equipped with enough knowledge to properly correct the issue.

Salvage Yard

When trying to find good, used forklift parts, we recommend you try to shop locally when it is possible. Sounds counterintuitive to something a salvage yard with a website and online shop might say, right?

But the truth of the matter is that by supporting local salvage yards, you help them to build their inventory and their credibility… and in the end, it is you who benefits the most as it increases the quality of service and parts you can get right in your own backyard, so to speak.

Shop locally online when possible

It is 2020 and e-commerce undoubtedly reigns king when it comes to most consumer shopping habits across almost all industries. With the ability to source inexpensive new and used forklift parts alike, compare prices across multiple vendors at once and have it delivered to you the very next day, it is an appealing offer.

However, when you are purchasing your forklift parts online, you are placing your trust in a relatively faceless seller and essentially relying on them to ensure your parts arrive on time and the order is correct. When this doesn’t happen, it can create large delays and setbacks as you scramble to send back incorrect orders and wait to receive the proper parts in time afterward.

So even when shopping online, it is a good idea to try to source your online parts from local vendors for a variety of reasons.

Look for the savings

When you buy forklift parts locally from a brick and mortar location, you are able to actually go into the salvage yard and pick the parts that you really need for your lift truck and at the best price possible. You can return, exchange, and bargain with the salvage yard owner right there on the spot, something that is not usually possible when shopping online.

Additionally, you can speak to someone once you find a used forklift part that you need to determine the condition it is in, where they sourced it from, and if it will even be the correct part to serve your needs, saving you valuable time and money in the long-run.

Trade-ins

Another really good reason to shop at a local brick and mortar store is that many of these salvage yards will allow you to trade-in your old used forklift parts for another item you may need. But leveraging this fact, you can quickly begin to change out your broken forklift parts without needing to spend much out of pocket, if anything at all.

When you trade-in your old forklift parts, the salvage yard takes these parts and machines them to make them usable again or breaks them down in order to resale the usable mechanisms of that part later.

Local salvage yards need your business

We’ve all been there. That one part that we need for the forklift seems to be the only part that no one has in stock.

We spend an endless amount of time searching for it only to come up empty-handed again and again. After calling every local salvage yard, we resort to simply finding the part we need online. And as the years go on, the number of people who bypass the first step altogether only increases.

Now, with just about every industry doing a large amount of business via e-commerce, it is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller local businesses to get enough foot traffic in the door to stay well-stocked.

There will be times when even next-day delivery is simply not quick enough to get your part on-time for some large task that you need your forklift operational for immediately. In times like that, we need our well-stocked local salvage yards. A quick drive down the road to find a part we need immediately can be a life-saver.

So, buy used forklifts parts from local salvage yards when you can because your business keeps them in stock and might just get you out of a pinch one day.

Three Wheel Forklift

When choosing the right type of forklift for your business, one of the things that you will undoubtedly stumble across is the fact that there are both 3-wheel and 4-wheel forklifts to choose from.

Before blindly picking one or the other, it is important to understand the differences between these two types of forklifts. After all, when you are making this decision, there are a variety of things to consider such as the lifting capacity, cost, reliability, and quality of the build.

But the one thing that a lot of potential forklift owners get confused about is whether or not they need a 3-wheel or 4-wheel forklift. While this decision is one that can easily just come down to personal preference, there are indeed a few key differences between both of these types of forklifts that you should know about.

Let’s take a look at a few of these differences…

More does not always mean better

When buying anything, most people just tend to assume by default that somehow “more” equates to better, and this is not always the case.

When it comes to forklifts, just as with any other heavy machinery, you should not make your decision based on the fact that it has one more wheel than that other forklift that caught your eye. On the contrary, the number of wheels should come second only to the needs of your business. In other words, if a 4-wheel forklift would better suit your company, then that is the choice you should stick with.

However, don’t be mistaken… a 3-wheel forklift offers a few advantages over its 4-wheel counterpart such as a tighter turn radius and more versatility.

Lift capacity isn’t determined by the number of wheels

One thing that people often incorrectly believe is that the lift capacity is determined by the number of wheels on the lift truck. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, there are plenty of examples of 3-wheel forklifts that easily surpass the lift capacity of 4-wheel forklifts.

When in doubt, refer to the manufacturer’s specs to determine lift capacity.

3-wheel forklifts are actually really stable

While 4-wheel forklifts look more stable than a 3-wheel forklift, looks can be deceiving.

Thanks to modern stability systems present on forklifts, a 3-wheel forklift can actually give just as much stability as any other forklift on the market.

The technology that makes this possible is a set of sensors that are located within the mast and these sensors monitor load data and then shift the center of gravity of the truck to compensate and prevent the lift truck from tipping over.