How to Choose the proper Forklift

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When choosing to rent, lease or obtain a forklift you will find a lot of manufacturers, dealers and choices the choice can quickly turn out to be perplexing and at times down right tough. Here are some simple points to consider to assist you arrive from the deal together with the gear you need on the correct value, as well as excellent support after the sale!

Pallet Truck
What's Ability & Why Do I Need to Know It?
The rated capability of a forklift is the amount of weight it is able to lift. Forklift ability is found on the unit's data plate together with other important information. Keep in mind that the higher you are lifting a load the lower the potential will become. If you add an attachment this will also effect the unit's ability. Most capacities are rated at a 24" load center. Before deciding on what forklift to buy or hire, make sure you have a good idea of the weights and sizes in the loads you intend to lift. Any good dealer can help you with this if needed. The most commonly used capacities range from 3,000-6,000 pound units, however forklifts can range anywhere from 2,000-65,000 pounds or more. The more the unit can lift, the more expensive it is. It is important to know what capacity unit you may need not only to make sure you get the job done, but that you get it done safely. Using a forklift with too small of a potential can cause damage to the goods you are lifting and can be potentially deadly to operators and those around them.

Lift Height & Collapsed Height
Along with ability, you also need to know how high you want to lift your material and if you have any height restrictions. Lift height can be key if you are working on projects that reach above the typical 188"-189" of a triple stage upright. "Quad" units have a fourth mast, allowing them to lift to heights of 240" or more. A forklift's collapsed height is measured from the tallest part on the unit to the floor, when the forks are completely lowered. This measurement is important if you have low doors or ceilings in the building you are working in, or in the trucks you are loading/unloading.

What's My Application? How Does This Aid Me Choose My Forklift?
When selecting a forklift one from the very first questions that should occur to mind is "What am I using this forklift for and where am I using it?" The answer to that question is your application. What are you using it for: to stack pallets, move large rolls of paper, carpet or logs, piping? The possibilities are endless. Where are you doing the primary lifting: in a warehouse, outside on asphalt, gravel, mud, grass, in the woods? The product you are moving and the type of environment you are working in determines your application. The type of application you have determines certain specifications on your forklift such as the type of fuel, tires, and any attachments you might need. If you are working in an environment where certain safety precautions must be taken talk to your dealer about specially safety-rated units. If you are working outside in grass or mud and have heavy loads to lift, ask your dealer about rough terrain and four wheel drive units.

Attachments
You'll find multiple attachment choices available for your forklift. Carton clamps, rotating clamps, sideshifters, marble clamps, battery retrievals, drum handlers, carpet poles, push-pulls, fork positioners and hydraulic clamps are all examples. Once you have established your ability and application with your dealer, ask about attachments and if they could benefit you. Special attachments may also increase the residual value of your unit. When purchasing a unit with more than one feature or attachment you may want to take into account a forklift that has a fourth operating lever. Talk to your dealer to decide what attachment options are best for you.

Fuel Choices
You also have multiple fuel choices to consider when selecting a forklift: electric powered, gasoline, LP gas, diesel and dual fuel gasoline/LP gas. Your application can support determine which fuel source to select as well as cost and preference. If you are working inside in a closed facility it is unlikely that you would want an internal combustion unit because of the exhaust fumes, so an electric powered forklift would be ideal. However, electric forklifts are generally more expensive to acquire, and their batteries require specific chargers and special care & maintenance. If you'll need a heavy-duty forklift chances are it will be diesel. Dual fuel forklifts offer flexibility and a little more mobility, in that if you run outside of gasoline you can simply switch the unit over to LP gas to finish the job. The cost and availability of fuel is something to keep in mind, as this will be a required expense through the life of your forklift.

Tire Possibilities
Forklifts have numerous tire choices. Cushion, air pneumatic, solid pneumatic and foam-filled are only some of them. Again, knowing your application will assist determine the correct tire for your forklift. If you are working primarily indoors, on asphalt or cement then a smooth cushion tire will do. These tires are also available in a non-marking style, which will keep black marks off the floor. If you are working outside on rough asphalt, in gravel, mud or grass you will need a pneumatic tire. These tires have actual tread and add more of a cushion between the forklift and the ground. Keep in mind that forklifts do not come with their own suspension. The tires on your unit can greatly influence the comfort of your operators. Aftermarket tires that wear longer are also available. Consult your local dealer for your best options.

Warranty
Just like automobiles, new (and at times used) forklifts come with warranties. A common forklift warranty covers major component repairs for one year/2000 hours, and wearable items for around 90 days. Certain parts may also be covered for a longer period. Extended warranties are available for an additional value. Be sure to ask the sellers you are consulting about the different warranty choices that their manufacturers offer. Some are better than others, so check thoroughly. Before making any major repairs to your forklift always consult your dealer first. Even if the unit it is out of warranty there is still a possibility which the manufacturer will offer a little assistance, especially if the unit has low run hours.

Maintenance and Provider
We are so quick to compare obtain, lease or rental prices that we easily overlook the costs associated with maintaining our forklifts. This can lead to trouble in the long run. Manufacturers have recommended services that should be performed on their units at certain intervals. Review these with your dealer in addition to planned maintenance and periodic maintenance possibilities. Planned maintenance is usually scheduled every 200 hours or 30-120 days, depending on how much you use your unit. This services includes oil & filter changes, fluid checks, lubrication and other various maintenance depending on your type of unit. Periodic maintenance is less frequent and covers differential fluid changes as well as other less common maintenance, and occurs approximately once a year or every 2000 hours. A good dealer will offer you planned and periodic maintenance packages for your forklift, and arrive to your location routinely to perform them. This also gives the technician a chance to notice any existing or potential problems and correct them before they lead to larger failures. If you are leasing a forklift then you will have the option to buy a full maintenance package and let the dealer take care of everything, or support the unit by your own means. The latter option, while presently saving you money, may cost you in the end if you return the unit from lease with failed parts. If you are renting a forklift as a short-term rental then all maintenance excluding damages/abuse, daily fluid checks & battery watering should be covered by the dealer.

The correct Dealer
This is perhaps the most important selection you will face when looking to obtain, lease or rent a forklift. Not all dealers are created equal! Even if you are determined to stick with a particular brand, at least shop around a bit before going with the first dealer you come across that offers your favorite brand of forklift. Key factors when considering which forklift dealer to give your business to are: reputation of the company, quality of the products, convenience in the sales process, aftermarket resources, service capabilities, and overall customer support.

Reputation: It is highly recommended that you choose a local forklift dealer. You want a company that has been established in your area for some time and has a vested interest in your community. Local sellers are much more likely to stand behind their gear and do what they can for you as a customer because their reputation is on the line. If you obtain products out of town, off from the internet or at auction then the person who sold it to you isn't really going to care if you complain to your co-workers about the lousy machine they stuck you with. Choosing a local dealer also helps you support your community and keep business and money at home, something every town can benefit from.

Quality: Forklifts are not cheap. They are large, application-specific pieces of machinery that occur with a hefty cost tag. If your business or project is to the point where you require a forklift you want to be sure you make the wisest investment possible. Doing a little research ahead of time and having a general idea of what you want will support. Do an internet search for forklift reviews and see what's being reported about the brands out there. Some manufacturers cost more but last longer or offer better warranties, choices or residual value. Some brands are less expensive because the give you less in the long run. Whether you choose a basic forklift or a unit with all the bells and whistles, you want to make sure you are getting what you paid for. Take the search results you find with you to your local dealer and discuss them. If you are in favor of a particular brand or model but you can find some mixed reviews be honest with all the salesman and ask him what he has experienced.

Sales Process: From start to finish the process of purchasing, leasing or renting a forklift should be as simple as possible. Again, this is why working with a local dealer will allow you to. Speaking directly to a salesman that is well versed in the equipment he or she represents can make all the difference in the world. Forklift varieties, attachment & tire choices, financing, warranties and maintenance should all be covered before you are asked to make a choice. A good forklift salesman will make a strong effort to get you the correct products with the best deal possible, and follow up with you soon after the sale.

Aftermarket resources: These are details to keep in mind for right after the sale. Does this dealer have their own parts department? Chances are if they stock their own parts they will be able to fix your unit faster when it breaks down, and that should include tires. Does this dealer have a rental department? When your unit goes down and you have to have something in its place, it's a whole lot easier to get a short-term rental from the company who is fixing your products than it is to shop around for something yourself. Also, examining the dealer's short-term rental fleet prior to obtain may assist you to decide which brand & model to go with. Right after market resources can also include miscellaneous items that assist in other aspects of your material handling, including racking and warehousing systems.

Support Capabilities: The support capabilities of your dealer will assist ensure that your unit is well taken care of. Planned & periodic maintenance of your forklift, as well as manufacturer recommended services should all be presented to you upon obtain of your forklift. What is the dealer's support response time - will they be out to fix the unit in a matter of hours or days? Are their technicians certified and trained properly? Don't be afraid to ask questions!

Customer Support: This final characteristic is perhaps the most important. Once you purchase a forklift from your local dealer you should expect continued high-quality customer service. No business is going to be able to immediately fix everything for you all on the time, but the dealer you pick should do everything within their power to assist you. They should have a friendly, helpful staff as well as convenient hours of operation. Scheduling a services call, ordering a rental or parts should should be a stream-lined, un-complicated processes. Local sellers will only thrive if their customers do, so taking care of you should be a priority to them.

Keeping these guidelines in mind when determining on a forklift will assist you to save time, money and frustration in the long run. Remember to discuss any and all questions or concerns with your local dealer prior to the sale. This can aid avoid confusion and possibly negative situations in the future. With these tips, your forklift purchasing should be a positive experience where you occur out of the deal using the equipment you will need at a value you can afford, knowing you have a strong team at your local dealer ready to help when you require services and support.

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