Whether you use forklifts in a warehouse setting or on a construction site, they are some of the most versatile machines you’ll find anywhere. From industrial to agricultural jobs, forklifts can do it all. Forklifts come in gas- and battery-powered versions and they can tackle both smooth surfaces and rough terrain. When you add the right attachments, forklifts can perform countless jobs — everything from moving materials to supporting your crew. Find out how to choose a forklift that fits your needs, which attachments are available, and how to rent one for your next job.
How to Choose a Forklift
Forklifts come in many sizes and have a range of features. To find the right model, think about how you need to use the equipment. Keep the following aspects in mind as you choose the right forklift for the job.
1. Determine Capacity:
How much weight do you need to lift? Review your job specs and assess the types and sizes of loads you need to move. Smaller forklifts can support up to 5,000 pounds. Industrial forklifts can lift up to 30,000 pounds. You’ll also find many options in between.
2. Calculate Weight:
How much weight can your job site support? If you’re working on finished floors, check the load limit. If you’re working on rough surfaces, find out how much weight the ground can support. You may want to rent the largest forklift possible. However, an overweight machine can put a project at risk.
3. Measure Height Requirements:
Forklift masts tend to rise as the machine lifts. If you’re working inside, know the height limits of the space. Make sure the forklift can move through doorways and other openings, too. Any forklift you use should be able to navigate the workspace safely.
4. Choose the Correct Fuel Type:
Forklifts typically need either battery power or liquid propane gas. For indoor jobs, opt for battery power. Battery-powered forklifts don’t produce harmful emissions, so they are safe for contained spaces. You will need to recharge them every few hours, so make sure you have electrical access. For outdoor jobs with good ventilation, opt for gas. These types of forklifts can run all day without downtime, but you will need to refuel occasionally.
5. Analyze Terrain Type:
Forklifts can handle all types of terrain, as long as you choose the right model. Opt for warehouse forklifts for indoor jobs on smooth surfaces. Choose rough-terrain forklifts for outdoor jobs on uneven surfaces. These models come with high-tread tires that can tackle loose dirt, mud, and inclines.
Before renting a forklift for your job site, think safety first. Check local building codes and regulations. Train your crew to use each machine safely. Know how to maintain the forklift and attachments. Take the time to inspect the machine before each work session. Invest in extra safety accessories when necessary.
Types of Forklift Attachments
When you think of forklift accessories, forks may be the first add-on that comes to mind. Forks are some of the most popular accessories and come in many sizes. You can choose forks from 3 to 5 feet long, and you can add fork extensions for more length. Most forks have a width of 4 inches to work with standard pallets and crates. Standard forks can usually support loads up to 5,000 pounds.
Moving forks to fit certain loads isn’t easy. With add-ons such as side shifters, drivers can move forks to the right or left without getting out of the cab. Fork positioners can also move forks automatically. These add-ons shift the distance between forks so that the driver doesn’t have to do it manually.
Forks give these machines the power to tackle many jobs. Forklifts can work with more than forks only, though. For example, a forklift boom allows this type of machine to lift from above instead of from below. Add on a forklift boom, and your machine can easily lift and move oddly shaped loads. Booms can carry loads up to 8,000 pounds, giving forklifts greater capacity. Clamps also allow drivers to move oddly shaped loads safely, but their capacity is smaller.
Add a rotator to your forklift, and you can turn bins and containers up to 360 degrees. Attach a multiple load handler to your machine, and you can add one or more extra pairs of forks. This capability allows you to move two or more smaller loads at once.
While many forklift attachments move materials, some can also support people. Fit a work platform onto your machine, and you can lift one or more crew members. These platforms come with guard rails and safety straps to keep your team members safe while on the platforms.
Benefits of Forklift Attachments
When you choose the right forklift add-ons, you’ll get several benefits. First, you’ll get more out of the machine. Choose the right set of forks, and you can move bigger or non-standard loads. Attach a boom, and you can move almost any type of load, even over barriers. Add a multiple load handler, and you’ll no longer be limited to moving one load at a time. Get the right work platform, and you can give crew members a boost, too.
When you get more out of your forklift, you’ll increase productivity and save time. You won’t have to worry about training your crew to operate multiple machines. Instead, they can master one piece of equipment and the necessary attachments.
Safety is key at every job site, and many attachments can improve your crew’s safety record. Some attachments allow drivers to lift loads safely without putting themselves at risk. All forklift add-ons come with locks, pins, and straps that keep them in place. These features keep your crew safe and your loads secure.
Finally, add-ons help you save money in the long run, although each accessory comes with a price tag. However, the cost of renting a forklift and your choice of add-ons are bound to be lower than the cost of renting multiple machines that do only one job each.
Why Renting a Forklift Is the Right Choice
After deciding on the right forklift and add-ons, you have to make one last decision. For many contractors, deciding to rent rather than buy equipment is easy. First, the upfront cost of renting is lower. You can expect to spend several thousand dollars when buying a forklift. Attachments can add a few thousand dollars to the price tag. You may need a loan or a line of credit to buy equipment.
In contrast, renting a forklift costs a fraction of the price. If you need to use a forklift only for a day or for a week, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars. Even if you need to use it for a month, you’ll pay a small percentage of the purchase price.
If you’re working with a small budget, your purchasing power may be limited. You may only be able to afford to buy older used models. Dated models may require more repairs. They may also lack the new features that can boost your crew’s productivity.
In contrast, you can rent a new forklift with the smallest budget. Rental forklifts tend to be the latest models, which means you can look forward to more functionality, improved speed, and better safety.
When you buy a forklift, you’ll also need to insure your property. When you rent, you won’t need to purchase extra equipment insurance. Owning a forklift means you’re in charge of maintenance. Renting means your crew won’t have to worry about the cost or hassle of repairs.
Renting the right forklift is important for any job. Selecting the wrong size or type could lead to major issues for your crew. From property damage and worker injury to delayed schedules and increased costs, the wrong machine can cause serious problems.
A History of the Forklift
Forklifts have powered job sites for over 100 years. They first entered the scene in 1917. The Clark Company created an early version called the Tructractor. This simple machine could move materials around the company’s factory floor, and this early forklift quickly caught on with clients. Over the next few years, the Clark Company improved the machine and added new functions. Later versions had hydraulics to lift materials and supplies.
In 1923, Yale launched what’s known as the first forklift. This machine had forks for lifting and an elevated mast. By 1930, forklifts had become common in warehouses. Standard pallet size allowed forklifts to move materials quickly. Bigger batteries helped forklifts run longer, and batteries that could recharge allowed forklifts to work long hours.
As forklifts have become essential equipment, they’ve become safer than ever. Today, many forklifts have guards to protect drivers from falling materials. Newer machines have backrests to keep loads in place. They also have better balance to prevent tipping. Custom tires allow forklifts to work indoors or outdoors. These all contribute to improved safety for forklifts.
Don’t leave your equipment to chance. Contact BigRentz at (888) 325-5172 to rent the ideal forklift for any job. With locations across the United States, BigRentz has the machines and the expertise you need to do the job right.