Key Components of a Forklift Truck

Forklift trucks keep the world functioning efficiently. This is a bold statement but when you look around, almost everything or part of it has been moved by a forklift truck. Most factories, warehouses and retail outlets including supermarkets use forklifts in their everyday operations. To move materials and goods efficiently saves money and hence you need dependable forklift trucks. To get the best out your forklift truck you need to understand how it works. In this blog we explain the key components of a forklift truck.

Power Source – The power of the forklift comes from either an internal combustion engine (ICE) or an electric motor. The fuel for ICE is either diesel or liquid propane gas. The electric forklift is powered by lithium ion or lead-acid battery. The power source or engine is generally located under the driver’s seat. The power source requires most attention in a forklift truck with maintenance and refuelling or charging for the electric ones. Read our blog on “Benefits of Electric Forklift Trucks”.

Forklift Truck Frame – This is like a chassis of a car. All key components like wheels, counterweight and mast are attached to the frame.

Counterweight – This is a cast iron weight fixed usually to the rear of the forklift. It counters the weight of the load being lifted giving stability and preventing the forklift from being toppled over. The counterweight dictates the carrying capacity of the forklift. The carrying capacity is listed on the rating plate. In electric forklifts, the battery often provides the counterweight.

Forklift Mast – This enables the main function of the forklift which is to raise and lower the load. It also allows the load to tilt. It is the vertical section in front and consists of interlocking rails powered by hydraulic cylinders. The hydraulic vertical cylinder lifts the forks and carriage while the tilt cylinder caters for the tilt of the carriage and the forks. The mast may have different stages such as duplex, triplex and quad (2, 3 or 4 stages). More stages allow loads to be lifted to greater heights and hence quad achieves the greatest height the forklift load can be lifted.

Carriage – The carriage is located in front of the mast and includes the forks and the load backrest. The function of the forks is to lift the load from the bottom. The load backrest allows the load to rest on and prevents the load from slipping backwards towards the operator. It also protects the mast from being damaged by the load.

Forklift Tyres – Obviously you need tyres to move and there are several options available. You may have a three or four tyre/wheel options. Four tyres allow higher loads to be carried while three tyres allow smaller turning circle, ideal where space is limited. Cushion tyres are suited to indoor use while pneumatic tyres are ideal for outdoor use as they have better traction and can handle uneven and rough surfaces.

Operator Cabin – This is where the driver operates the forklift from and generally consists of operator seat, steering wheel, brake pedals, parking brake or hand brake, mast control, acceleration pedal, inching pedal and gauges. It also has lift lever, tilt lever and side shift lever.

Overhead Guard – The overhead guard protects the forklift driver from any falling object. This could be from the load which is not secured properly or if the driver bumps into a rack while moving.

Rating Plate – Also known as capacity plate, nameplate or data plate, it contains important information such as carrying capacity, lift height, weight, fuel type, forward and back tilt degrees, tyre and other safety information. All forklift drivers must be familiar with the information on the rating plate.

All forklift drivers must be familiar with their vehicle for safe and efficient operation. Forklift driver training must include a section on key components of a forklift truck.

Wallace School of Transport is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years’ experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.

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