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How to Choose Your Next Forklift

November 15, 2021

When you’re ready to buy a new forklift, it’s important to know what you’re doing. Finding the most productive, cost-effective machine requires specialized insight because you must evaluate a variety of factors, from height and weight capacity to the technologically advanced attachments. That’s why it’s important to find a reputable dealer, who can help you find a forklift that meets or even exceeds your expectations and requirements.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a forklift, but the initial considerations should be:

  • Load capacity: Choosing a forklift with maximum load capacity that’s less than what you require would be a big mistake. Before choosing a forklift, consider what stock the forklift will be handling, what the average load weight would be, the heaviest load that will need to be lifted, and how wide the loads will be. It’s also important to think about the type of load that will be moved, to determine which attachments will help the forklift work more efficiently.
  • Lift height: Equally important as the load capacity is the lift height. Average forklifts start at a lift height of eight feet and go up to 20 feet, but some units can reach much higher. The necessary height depends on the nature of your business, how you intend to use the forklift and your warehouse size. Think about your typical lift height as well as the highest point you’ll need to reach, and any height restrictions you may encounter, like low hanging lights or ceiling beams.
  • Fuel type: You’ll need to choose between electric and internal combustion.
    • Electric forklifts are powered by large, heavy, lead-acid batteries and provide enough power for about five to six hours of continuous use. These forklifts cost more upfront, but they are economical to operate and produce no emissions.
    • Internal combustion engines run on different fuels, including gasoline, diesel fuel, liquid propane gas, and compressed natural gas. They can be operated in any environment, have a greater weight-bearing capacity, and have a higher reach. They’re less expensive to purchase than electric forklifts, but cost more to run.
  • Tire composition: The type of tire you choose depends largely on the environment in which the lift is to be operated. You can choose pneumatic, solid, or cushion tires, and determine which material meets your needs.
  • Ergonomics: Forklift operators sit in their machines for hours at a time, so it’s important that the seating is high-quality and adjustable, and the design and placement of controls is comfortable. Investing in better ergonomics will decrease the risk of operator injury.

Another factor to consider is the operator of the forklift. The right training is extremely important, so look for a dealer that offers operator training along with their forklifts. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has very clear requirements for forklift operator training, and licensing. In order to operate powered industrial trucks, users must be over 18 years old and must pass both classroom training and a driving test. They are required to be evaluated and re-certified every three years.

Started as a way to improve the pallet industry, Atlas Toyota has been internationally recognized and consistently ranked as one of the top privately held companies in Illinois for more than 60 years. With over 115 certified technicians with an average of 17 years’ experience working 24/7 to make sure every piece of equipment in our hands is working properly, and four full-time Service Writers to make sure customers’ needs are met, we provide excellent service to everyone who walks through our doors. In addition, we have a full-time trainer on staff, providing both safety and technical classes that allow customers to become certified forklift operators. When you’re ready to buy your next forklift, contact us for sales and service you can trust.

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