A typical counterbalanced forklift contains the following components:
Truck Frame – is the base of the machine to which the mast, axles, wheels, counterweight, overhead guard and power source are attached. The frame may have fuel and hydraulic fluid tanks constructed as part of the frame assembly.
Counterweight – is a heavy cast iron mass attached to the rear of the forklift truck frame. The purpose of the counterweight is to counterbalance the load being lifted. In an electric forklift the large lead-acid battery itself may serve as part of the counterweight.
Cab – is the area that contains a seat for the operator along with the control pedals, steering wheel, levers, switches and a dashboard containing operator readouts. The cab area may be open air or enclosed, but it is covered by the cage-like overhead guard assembly. The ‘Cab’ can also be equipped with a Cab Heater for cold climate countries.
Overhead Guard – is a metal roof supported by posts at each corner of the cab that helps protect the operator from any falling objects. On some forklifts, the overhead guard is an integrated part of the frame assembly.
Power Source – may consist of an internal combustion engine that can be powered by Liquid Propane Gas LPG, Petrol or Diesel fuel. Electric forklifts are powered by either a battery or fuel cells that provides power to the electric motors. The electric motors used on a forklift may be either DC or AC types.
Tilt Cylinders – are hydraulic cylinders that are mounted to the truck frame and the mast. The tilt cylinders pivot the mast to assist in engaging a load.
Mast – is the vertical assembly that does the work of raising and lowering the load. It is made up of interlocking rails that also provide lateral stability. The interlocking rails may either have rollers or bushings as guides. The mast is driven hydraulically, and operated by one or more hydraulic cylinders directly or using chains from the cylinder/s. It may be mounted to the front axle or the frame of the forklift.
Carriage – is the component to which the forks or other attachments mount. It is mounted into and moves up and down the mast rails by means of chains or by being directly attached to the hydraulic cylinder. Like the mast, the carriage may have either rollers or bushings to guide it in the interlocking mast rails.
Load Back Rest – is a rack-like extension that is either bolted or welded to the carriage in order to prevent the load from shifting backward when the carriage is lifted to full height.
Attachments – may consist of forks or tines that are the L-shaped members that engage the load. A variety of other types of material handling attachments are available. Some attachments include sideshifters, slipsheet attachments, carton clamps, multipurpose clamps, rotators, fork positioners, carpet poles, pole handlers, container handlers and roll clamps.
Below is a list of common forklift attachments:
Sideshift – is a hydraulic attachment that allows the operator to move the forks and backrest laterally. This allows easier placement of a load without having to reposition the truck.
Rotator – To aid the handling of skids that may have become excessively tilted and other specialty material handling needs some forklifts are fitted with an attachment that allows the forks to be rotated. This type of attachment may also be used for dumping containers for quick unloading.
Fork Positioner – is a hydraulic attachment that moves the forks together or apart. This removes the need for the operator to manually adjust the tines for different sized loads.
Roll and Barrel Clamp Attachment – A mechanical or hydraulic attachment used to squeeze the item to be moved. It is used for handling barrels, kegs, or paper rolls. This type of attachment may also have a rotate function. The rotate function would help an operator to insert a vertically stored paper into the horizontal intake of a printing press for example.
Pole Attachments – In some locations, such as carpet warehouses, a long metal pole is used instead of forks to lift carpet rolls. Similar devices, though much larger, are used to pick up metal coils.
Carton and Multipurpose Clamp Attachments – are hydraulic attachments that allow the operator to open and close around a load, squeezing it to pick it up. Products like cartons, boxes and bales can be moved with this type attachment. With these attachments in use, the forklift truck is sometimes referred to as a clamp truck.
Slip Sheet Attachment (Push – Pull) – is a hydraulic attachment that reaches forward, clamps onto a slip sheet and draws the slip sheet onto wide and thin metal forks for transport. The attachment will push the slip sheet and load off the forks for placement.
Drum Handler Attachment – is a mechanical attachment that slides onto the forks. It usually has a spring loaded jaw that grips the top lip edge of a drum for transport. Another type grabs around the drum in a manner similar to the roll or barrel attachments.
Man Basket – a lift platform that slides onto the forks and is meant for hoisting workers. The man basket has railings to keep the person from falling and brackets for attaching a safety harness. Also, a stap or chain is used to attach the man basket to the carriage of the forklift.
Telescopic Forks – are hydraulic attachments that allow the operator to operate in warehouse design for “double-deep stacking”, which means that two pallet shelves are placed behind each other without any aisle between them.
Scales -Fork truck mounted scales enable operators to efficiently weigh the pallets they handle without interrupting their workflow by travelling to a platform scale. Scales are available that provide legal-for-trade weights for operations that involve billing by weight. They are easily retrofitted to the truck by hanging on the carriage in the same manner as forks hang on the truck. Any attachment on a forklift will reduce its nominal load rating, which is computed with a stock fork carriage and forks. The actual load rating may be significantly lower.
There are three types of tyres to choose from: press-on band cushion tyres, which are made of solid rubber, pneumatic tyres, which are inflated with compressed air and pneumatic profile solid tyres The latter are know as superlastic. For internal applications, cushion tyres are the best choice. For outdoor use over rough ground where more suspension is required pneumatic tyres maybe the best choice.
The third option, know as superlastic are more suited to the outdoor environments where there would be a high risk of punctures on regular pneumatic tyres. They combine the solid-rubber construction of cushion tyres with the rough terrain capabilities of pneumatic tyres, and typically are more expensive than the other two types.
Electric fork lifts are usually only available with superlastic or cushion tyres as they are predominantly used for internal works. For heavy-duty lifting outdoors on uneven terrain, a LPG or diesel lift truck with pneumatic tyres is the most common choice. The Multilift sales engineer should be able to provide guidance on your specific application.
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