Forklift trucks are versatile and powerful machines that play a crucial role in many industries. From warehousing and logistics to construction and manufacturing, forklifts are used to move heavy loads quickly and efficiently. However, with their power and utility comes a range of questions and concerns that people often have about operating and maintaining them. In this page, we'll cover some of the most commonly asked questions about forklift trucks, from their basic operation and maintenance to safety and regulatory issues. Whether you're a forklift operator, supervisor, or just interested in learning more about these essential machines, you'll find answers to many of your questions here
1. What is a counterbalance forklift truck?
This is the most common type of forklift. It has forks on the front which allow the driver to approach a load with a clear view. The term ‘counterbalance’ describes the fact that the weight of a load is countered by a weight (counterweight) located at the rear end of the forklift, which keeps the rear wheels firmly on the ground.
2. How much does a forklift cost?
There are two main factors that determine the price: the load capacity (the weight that can be lifted by the truck) and the energy source it is using. The higher the load capacity, the higher the price. Electric forklifts are currently more expensive than those with a combustion engine. The price gap is closing however, due to global demand for increased electrification and increasing fuel prices.
3. Do you need a licence to drive a forklift?
A standard car’s driver’s license is only needed when you want to drive the forklift on public roads. It is not needed to drive a forklift in privates spaces.
However, any employer must make sure that all people who use, supervise or manage the use of work equipment, have received adequate training, which includes, the correct use of the equipment, any risks from its use and any precautions to take.
Such training can be given internally or by external training companies and result in a certification to drive the forklift.
4. How old do you have to be to drive a forklift?
In general the age restriction for driving a forklift is 18, however it is possible to drive as a 16 or 17 year old, under supervision.
5. Do you need special training to operate a forklift safely?
Yes. Training can be given internally or by external training companies and result in a certification to drive a forklift. The certification will only be valid in the latter case if a driver changes employer.
6. Where can I buy a forklift?
Just like buying a car, you need to visit a dealer that sells forklifts. A forklift dealer will help you choose the right machine, advise on the range of payment methods available to you. An official dealer will also be able to service your machine.
7. Where can I get my forklift serviced?
It is recommended to get your forklift serviced by an official dealer. They will have the expertise, genuine spare parts and the trained personnel that will come to you to do an on-site service.
8. What is the difference between a 3 wheeled forklift and 4 wheeled forklift?
It is not the number of wheels but rather the number of ‘supporting points’ that determine a 3 or 4 wheeled forklift. Next to the two wheels on each side at the front, we speak of a 4 wheeled forklift when the steered rear wheels are on the back, to the left and right side. When there is only one central steering point at the back, with one or two rotating wheels, it is called a 3 wheeled truck. In general a 3 wheeled truck has a smaller turning radius and so is better for confined spaces. 4 wheelers are more stable when turning and can lift to greater heights.
9. What is a pump truck?
A pump truck, also known as a pallet truck, is a device that can only lift pallets to heights of +/-15cm, with the pallet only supported by the forks/wheels. The lifting can be done via a manual or electric hydraulic pump and moved around by manual pulling or with the aid of an electric motor.
10. What is a stacker truck?
A stacker truck is a device that can lift pallets to heights up to 6 metres, for placing on a rack shelf or lorry. As with a pump truck, the lifting is done via a manual or electric hydraulic pump and moved by manual pulling or with the aid of an electric motor.
11. What fuel type should I choose for my forklift?
An electric forklift runs on a lead acid or Li-Ion battery or batteries, whereas a combustion engine version uses diesel or LPG. Electric forklifts are preferred for indoors and confined spaces but combustion engine machines drive and lift faster. Quick refuelling is a big advantage for combustion engines vs the longer charging times of the batteries.
12. How often does a forklift need servicing?
Electric forklifts are practically maintenance free and only need the regreasing of moving parts and refilling of lead acid batteries about every 3 months. Li-Ion battery operated machines don’t need refilling, so they only require servicing about every 6 months. Combustion engine machines need much more servicing with regular air, fuel and oil filter changes and engine, gearbox and front axle oil changes. Typical service intervals are every 500 working hours.
13. Where can I get my forklift repaired?
It is recommended getting your forklift repaired by an official dealer, especially if the machine is under warranty. Whenever possible, they will come on site to do the repair, but in some cases they might find it necessary to move the forklift to their workshop.