You don’t have to have anything to do with the logistics industry to have an idea of what a forklift looks like. Everyone has had the opportunity to see this vehicle, whether in person or in a photo or video footage.
What is a forklift?
A forklift (popularly known as a forklift or simply a forklift) is a wheeled mechanical vehicle, usually powered by an internal combustion engine (diesel, gasoline or gas) or an electric motor. It is used primarily for loading, unloading and transportation work – so it finds its application mainly in logistics centers and warehouses, but also on railroads, in shipyards, processing plants, construction sites. It is a specialized vehicle, which is subject to inspection by the Office of Technical Inspection. To be able to operate such a vehicle, you must obtain a license appropriate to the type of forklift, which does not apply only to a manual pallet truck.
History of the forklift
The industrial revolution in Europe, Japan and the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries marks the beginning of the history of the forklift. Beginning with the two-wheeled hand truck, a portable elevator for transporting materials over short distances, hoists and winches, the machines we know in their modern form evolved from this equipment. By 1904, swivel bases for carts had been developed. The connection of a battery to them came in 1906, while three years later the first cart made entirely of steel was developed. No one needs to be convinced that without this heavy equipment, warehouse work would be much less efficient, and some aspects of it would simply become unfeasible. History often shows that it is the ongoing wars that have a mobilizing effect on the development of certain industries, and this was the case with the development of various types of forklifts: the shortage of manpower led to a focus on developing machines that could replace people or make the workload of one man, using a machine, as efficient as possible. The changes that forklifts have undergone over the decades have meant that these machines are now capable of both lifting loads very high and tilting them.
Safety standards have also undergone their own revolution, in parallel with the development of forklifts themselves. Today, safety standards and ergonomics are key issues in the implementation of the production of new models.
Types of forklifts
Today’s forklifts are used to perform a variety of activities and differ significantly in their various functions. Several divisions of them have been adopted: by type of power and drive, and by functionality and application.
Based on the type of propulsion, we distinguish between internal combustion, gas and electric forklifts. Carts can be controlled from a platform, remotely by remote control or, as in the case of cars, by an employee with the appropriate authorization to drive the vehicle. Meanwhile, the division of forklifts by function is as follows:
- sidecar trucks;
- lift trucks;
- off-road carts;
- tilt trucks;
- reach trucks;
- system carts;
- overhead carts;
- multi-directional carts;
- container carts;
- anti-explosion forklifts.
Another accepted division of forklifts indicates their loading and transport division. In this respect, forklifts are distinguished:
- containerized, for transporting heavy loads;
- anti-explosive, designed for factories and warehouses with flammable materials;
- torsional, ideal for working in warehouses with narrow, winding aisles;
- multi-directional, with a similar application to a torsion forklift;
- suspended, which are small in size, making it possible to carry them along with the load;
- systemic – convenient and functional, they can be used both in cramped store warehouses, in production halls, and outdoors when handling and unloading goods;
Of course, not every model and type of forklift will find application in every enterprise or warehouse. When picking equipment, the selection of suitable forklifts is crucial – both the efficiency and comfort of the crew largely depend on this. The forklifts must be matched not only to the type of goods they will carry, but also to the racks and the square footage of the warehouse space.
Forklifts used at LCL logistic
W LCL Logistic we work with hand pallet trucks, forklifts, reach trucks, system trucks and front forklifts.
Pallet hand trucks are used to transport goods placed on pallets. It is a structure made of high-quality steel, adapted to all standard dimensions of pallets. They differ in load capacity and accessories; they are the most common type of forklift in all kinds of warehouses and businesses.
A forklift, on the other hand, is a device used for both picking up goods placed on pallets, lifting and lowering them, and transporting them. The forks of the forklift move up the mast to the appropriate height, allowing you to reach the higher shelves on which the goods are stored. At LCL Logistic’s warehouses, we work with this type of Jungheinrich forklifts (ERD 220, ERC 216i and ERE225 models). Most of our forklifts are battery-powered.
High-bay forklifts are electric vehicles that work at greater heights, with their help the operator is able to reach the highest shelves of the rack, which, however, also involves the possibility of a lower lifting capacity to maintain maximum stability during maneuvering. At LCL Logistic’s warehouses, we use these types of Jungheinrich vehicles (ETV/ M 318 and 320 models), which have telescopic forks and a front camera mounted on the vehicle.
Jungheinrichsystem trucks (model EKX 516) are another modern, valuable acquisition for our company, serving LCL Logistic’s storage areas. They have a rotating fork carriage, a lithium-ion battery as power, patented vibration dampening, RFID control and a number of intelligent support systems. Operator work can take place in either a sitting or standing position.
The leading forklifts (in LCL Logistic’s warehouses, Jungheinrich’s EFG 213 and EFGS 30 models) are maneuverable and reliable vehicles that can operate both inside and outside the warehouse. The mast is located at the front of the forklift, and they are ideal for loading and unloading trucks; they have a lithium-ion battery.
All forklifts (except manual) in our company have an access control system. They are activated not by a key, but by an individual access card, which makes it possible for a supervisor to check at any time who was using a particular piece of equipment at a particular time.
The roofs of LCL Logistic’s warehouses house a number of photovoltaic panels. Energy extracted from these panels is used to power forklifts, most of which have lithium-ion batteries. This is not only a way to reduce equipment operating costs, but also an expression of concern for protecting the planet’s environment.
No large logistics warehouse can function without the ability to use forklifts, no one needs to be convinced. It is as basic a working tool as the pallet itself. Forklift manufacturers are constantly introducing new innovations and changes in response to the growing needs of their customers – all with the aim of making warehouse operations as efficient as possible. Carts differ significantly from each other, both in terms of their dimensions and amenities adapted to specific working conditions, which means that every entrepreneur is sure to find equipment that meets his expectations.