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Counterbalance Forklift vs Reach Forklifts: The Main Differences

Counterbalance Forklift vs Reach Forklifts: The Main Differences

Dec 1, 2017

Buying a new forklift for your business is not a light endeavor.  Forklift equipment is a major purchase, and there are many types of forklifts available with different options to serve a variety of purposes in different working environments.  You must consider price, capability, weight capacity, and even forklift type when making a purchase.  Once you determine your budget and decide on your price range, the next biggest decision to make is what type of forklift you need.  There are several types of forklifts, the most common are counterbalance forklifts and reach forklifts.  This guide explains the main characteristics and differences between these two types of forklifts.

Counterbalance Forklifts

Reach_forkliftThe most commonly used forklifts for handling materials are counterbalance forklifts.  These forklifts are the first that come to mind when people generally picture the equipment because they resemble what many consider to be the typical forklift.  The fork is on the front of the vehicle and it operates without the need for additional outriggers or reach.  Therefore, operators can drive right up to the load to lift it and right up to the racking spot to off load it.

Counterbalance forklifts get their name from the presence of a counterbalance weight, usually on the back of the forklift, that off sets the weight of the lifted load.  These forklifts can be powered by gas, diesel fuel, or electricity, and the size of the counterweight may differ depending on the weight of the battery.  Electric counterbalance forklifts can have batteries that weigh up to several thousand pounds which means that they generally have smaller counterweights.  The other main features of counterbalance forklifts include driver cabs, sideshifts, and mast tilt facilities.

3 Wheel Counterbalance Forklifts

One drawback of counterbalance forklifts is that they are tough to use in limited spaces.  The design of 3 wheel counterbalance forklifts makes maneuvering through tight spaces easier with a single rear wheel in the center of the forklift.  This rear wheel gives the forklift a better turning radius to handle racking and loading in small spaces.

Reach Forklifts

Reach forklifts have the capability to “reach” beyond their stabilizing legs, giving them much more lift height capacity than counterbalance forklifts.  These forklifts also have better maneuverability and they are designed for operation in tight spaces.  Reach trucks are most commonly used in warehouse settings because they can fit in tight isles and reach loads that are stored high in the racking.  They perform poorly in outdoor settings because uneven surfaces can cause damage to the low clearance undercarriage.  These forklifts are stabilized by the legs and battery, which means they do not need a counterbalance weight.  Some reach trucks can reach and lift loads as high as 30 feet.

Another common feature of reach trucks is a tilting cab mechanism to help the operator better see the load.  Many cabs on reach forklifts have an open overhead guard to help increase visibility, and some reach trucks may also have cameras for even better visibility.  The image from these cameras shows on an LCD screen inside the cab.

If you are considering a new forklift for your fleet, you must consider what you need out of the new forklift to help decide which type of forklift you should buy.  Both counterbalance forklifts and reach forklift are useful in many scenarios, but their different capabilities make them each better suited for different environments.  Professionals that offer new forklifts such as RHI Lifts can help you decide which type of forklift is better suited for your working environment.  Give RHI Lifts a call to learn more about your options for a new forklift.

Tips to Reduce the Overhead Costs of your Forklift Fleet

Tips to Reduce the Overhead Costs of your Forklift Fleet

Aug 29, 2017

A forklift fleet can help your company get a lot of work done and improve your bottom line, but only if it is used efficiently.  With the amount of money your company spends on new and used forklifts, as well as forklift maintenance, it is important to use your forklift fleet as efficiently as possible to maximize your ROI.  Many companies may find that the cost of operating their forklift fleet has become too high, which means that they must find ways to reduce the overhead costs of operation.  Fortunately, there are many different ways that you can reduce these overhead costs to help save your company money.

The following tips will help you be more cost effective with your forklift fleet.

Use Data Interfaces for Efficient Utilization

When it comes to determining how efficiently you are utilizing your forklift fleet, it helps to break down the use of each piece of equipment.  There are several different telematic monitoring systems available that can track use data on individual forklifts so you can see if they are being utilized properly.  With this data, you can easily identify when a forklift is being underused or overused, determine the best routing options, manage forklift maintenance, ensure that your operators are compliant, and determine the most efficient ways to use each forklift.  This data will also help you identify forklifts on your fleet that have become a liability.

Improve Routing

 The routing of your forklifts is very important because inefficient routing can cost your company time and money.  One of the best ways to ensure that your forklifts are using the most efficient routes is to use telematic monitoring systems as mentioned above.  This type of software can integrate real-time data from the forklifts with the details of your inventory to help you identify the most efficient routes for moving product through your warehouse.  The data from these monitoring systems can also help you determine if you are keeping your inventory in the best location for it to be moved efficiently.  By improving the efficiency of the routing, you can help maximize the ROI of your forklift fleet.

Monitor Operator Behavior

The behaviors of your forklift operators play a large part in the efficiency of your forklift fleet.  Most forklift accidents are caused by operator behavior which means that they are also preventable.  You can help make sure that your forklift operators are following safety protocols by setting speed limits, monitoring their behaviors, and enforcing compliance with your policies.  You should also make sure that your forklift operators attend training regularly to stay up to date on current safety protocols.

Closely Evaluate Contracts

When taking on a new contract for a job, it is crucial that your forklift operations and finances for the project are in line.  You must carefully review the terms of the contract so you can determine the best way to use your fleet to complete the job while minimizing the costs to your business.  Over or underutilizing your equipment can increase your costs while working on a particular contract.

Reduce Maintenance Costs

Forklift maintenance is always a major cost when operating a fleet, but there are so many things you can do to reduce your maintenance costs.  While there is no way to completely eliminate the need for forklift maintenance, you can prevent many common issues that may put your equipment out of commission.  You can start by forming an inspection checklist that your operators must complete before each use.  This will help maintain the fluid levels and identify minor issues with your equipment that are easy to fix before they develop into more serious and expensive problems.  You can also put each forklift in your fleet on a regular schedule for oil changes to ensure that no forklift goes too long without an oil change.  Taking these simple steps can help prevent major issues and save your company plenty of money on maintenance and repairs.

Forklift fleets can bring a great ROI to your business if they are used efficiently, and they can also be a liability to your company if they are not.  By maximizing the use of each individual forklift, improving the routing, evaluating contracts, and holding your operators responsible for following safety protocols and doing routine maintenance checks, you can significantly reduce the overhead costs of operating your forklift fleet.

Or course, something can always go wrong with your forklift, despite your best efforts at preventative maintenance.  If you have a problem with your equipment, our experts at RHI Lifts provide forklift maintenance to get your equipment back up and running.

If you have employees that need training to get their forklift certifications or operators that could use additional training, RHI Lifts provides forklift operator training classes that are compliant with OSHA and ANSI standards.

Complete Summer Forklift Maintenance Tips

Complete Summer Forklift Maintenance Tips

Jul 21, 2017

This summer season has brought some hot, humid weather to the Chicago area.  The hot summer weather not only takes a toll on those who work outside, but it can also take a toll on your forklift equipment.  Excessive heat can put extra wear and tear on the forklift and increase the risk of damage to the engine, tires, and other parts due to overheating.  If you experience significant damage to your forklift, it can cause your company to fall behind with your work and force you to pay for expensive repairs.  Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help protect and maintain your forklift fleet through the summer weather.  The following forklift maintenance tips will help you keep your forklifts working properly though the summer heat.

Inspect the Forklift Battery

The battery is very important for keeping your forklift running but the extreme heat can cause some issues.  The fluids within the battery can evaporate in hot conditions, increasing the risk of corrosion and drastically shortening the life of the battery.  You must regularly check forklift batteries and their fluid levels during the summer to ensure that the fluids don’t reach dangerously low levels.  If a battery has low fluid levels, refill it and make sure the water you put in your battery is at the right pH level.  This is especially important for electric forklifts.

Check Fans and Belts

forklift-service-maintenance-repair-chicago-ilThe fans and belts within your forklift play an important role in preventing the forklift from overheating.  The internal fans circulate air to help keep the engine cool, and the belts move the fans and engine coolant.  Both parts are subject to minor damage from repeated use and need to be replaced every now and then.  Make sure you check your fans and belts for cracks, holes, or general wear and tear.  Damaged belts and fans should be replaced right away.

Check Wires and Cables

Extreme heat can cause the wires and cables within the forklift to become brittle and corroded.  If a wire breaks, it can cause your forklift to stop functioning.  You must check the wires and cables in your forklift to ensure that they are properly connected and not damaged.  You must replace wires that have become frayed or exposed right away.

Check Engine to Prevent Overheating

One of the biggest issues that can occur with your forklift in the summer is overheating of the engine.  Just like in your car, an overheated engine can lead to a range of issues, including shortening the life of the engine.  Follow these tips to help prevent your internal combustion engine from overheating in the summer:

  • Check your coolant levels often and add more coolant if the levels are too low.
  • Replace the forklift coolant fluid often because it can deteriorate and result in damage to the coolant system.
  • Inspect the radiator for any damage. If the radiator has been damaged, it will depressurize which can cause the coolant to stop flowing and lead to overheating.  A damaged radiator can also affect the transmission.
  • Check for cracks or holes in the radiator hoses, especially if your coolant levels are always low. If you find a radiator hose that is damaged, replace it immediately.
  • Check the fuel filters and oil levels on your internal combustion engine to keep it running smoothly.

Check Forklift Tires

The summer heat can lead to a few issues with forklift tires, including cracking or wear and tear of the rubber, and high tire pressure.  Check the condition of the rubber on the tires before using the equipment.  If the rubber looks worn out or cracked, it might be time for new tires.  Proper inflation is important as well for smooth operation and preventing accidents.  Always check the tire pressure before use because the summer heat can cause the tire pressure to rise and increase the risk of a blowout.  Let some air out of the tires if the pressure is too high.

Keep Your Workers Protected

Protecting your expensive forklift equipment from the summer heat is important, but not as important as making sure your workers are safe in the heat.  Heat exhaustion and heat strokes are common issues among those who work outside during the summer, and these conditions could have dangerous consequences.  Make sure your workers are properly hydrated during the day and allow them to take breaks in a cooler part of your building.  Also, assign the heaviest workloads for the mornings before the temperature rises.

If your company relies on your forklift fleet through the summer, make sure you follow these summer forklift maintenance tips to keep your equipment in working order in the summer heat.  Taking the time to do effective forklift maintenance will help prevent costly issues with your forklift that will affect your production.  If you do have any problems with your equipment, contact our experts at RHI Lifts for forklift repair and maintenance services in Chicago, IL.  We can provide a wide range of forklift repairs to get your equipment up and running again.

Store your Car for the Winter with our Storage/ Parking Lifts

Store your Car for the Winter with our Storage/ Parking Lifts

Nov 30, 2016

During the spring, summer, and fall in the Chicago area, those that own sports cars, convertibles, and classic cars drive these vehicles as much as they can before the harsh winter weather returns.  There is nothing like cruising on a pleasant day in a convertible or classic car, but with winter quickly approaching, it is time to start worrying about storing your vehicle.  Many homeowners only have space in their garages for one or two cars, which means that storing your classic car or convertible will force you to have to park your everyday car outside during the winter.  RHI Lifts provides and installs storage and parking lifts to help you get the most out of the space in your garage.

store-your-car-for-the-winter-with-our-storage-parking-liftsPaying for vehicle storage at a garage or parking lot can be expensive.  Storing your vehicles in your own garage is ideal, but many garages are not built to store more than two cars.  The parking and storage lifts from RHI Lifts essentially double the storage space of your garage by allowing you to lift your vehicle up with enough space to park another vehicle underneath it.  This way you can store two vehicles in a space that formally only accommodated one.

Four Post Lifts

Four post lifts are heavy duty storage lifts that lift your vehicle up on a platform supported by four posts.  These parking lifts can be installed in any space, including tight spaces such as a residential garage, and they double your car storage space by lifting your vehicle for usable space under the platform.  Four post parking lifts are ideal for protecting convertibles and classic cars as well as storing seasonal vehicles such as motorcycles, snowmobiles, and ATV’s.  With these lifts, you can fit your seasonal vehicle and your everyday car in your garage and avoid parking outside during the winter.  The key switch option for the four post lifts provides extra protection for your precious vehicles.

Single Post Lifts

Single post lifts are storage lifts that have a raiseable platform that moves up and down a single post.  These parking lifts can double the storage area in your garage while taking up less space than a four post lift.  Single post lifts have a load capacity of 4,500 pounds which makes them an effective option for storing sports cars and other seasonal vehicles during the winter.

If you have a convertible, classic car, motorcycle, ATV, or other seasonal vehicle and limited storage space in your garage, the single and four post parking lifts from RHI Lifts are an ideal solution.  These parking lifts will not only allow you to safely store your precious vehicles for the winter, but also provide space so you can park your everyday vehicle in the garage.  Contact RHI Lifts to talk to one of our professionals about installing parking lifts in your garage.

Forklift Maintenance and Safety Tips to Prepare for Winter

Forklift Maintenance and Safety Tips to Prepare for Winter

Nov 1, 2016

The dropping temperatures late this fall season are a reminder that the winter will be hitting the Chicago area very soon.  The harsh winter weather makes doing anything outside more difficult, including operating a forklift.  Many forklift operators work in environments such as warehouses and loading docks that can be affected by the winter weather.  Forklift accidents almost always increase in the winter, making it very important for operators to properly maintain their equipment and take the necessary safety precautions.  Effective forklift safety and maintenance will help keep your operators protected and avoid penalties from OSHA as they tend to visit areas in which forklifts are used during the winter.

The following forklift safety and maintenance tips will help you safely operate your forklift and keep your equipment functioning in harsh winter weather.

Dress Warm

Many work environments such as warehouses and loading docks are cold in the winter so forklift operators must dress warm.  Wear a warm windproof coat as well as hats and gloves to stay warm.  Dressing in layers helps and make sure to wear bright colors so you are easily seen.  It is very important to keep your entire body warm because numb fingers and toes can lead to a mistake when driving the forklift that can cause an accident.

RHI-Lifts-Forklift-Maintenance-and-Safety-Tips-to-Prepare-for-WinterInspect the Tires

Cold weather causes forklift tires to lose air faster so always make sure to check the tire pressure before operation.  You should also consider replacing the tires with ones more suitable for winter operation.  Pneumatic tires handle harsh conditions better than traditional tires and you can also use chains or studs on the tires to help with traction.  Make sure you check the treads as well because bald tires are dangerous in wet or icy conditions.

Provide Regular Forklift Maintenance

Make sure you fully inspect your forklift before operating it and take care of any needed maintenance.  This includes checking the lighting, fuel and fluid levels, starters, and other forklift parts that are important for safe operation.  You should also check the conditions before operation so you can prepare your forklift accordingly.  Regular inspections and maintenance will help you prevent your forklift from breaking down in harsh conditions.

Winter Attachments

There are several winter attachments available that you can install on your forklift to better handle the conditions.  These attachments are especially handy for working outdoors in the winter.  A plow or scoop attachment can push or lift snow out of the way and a salt spreader or sander can help melt ice and snow while providing traction.  Winter forklift attachments are optional and are the most helpful if the forklift is used outdoors during the winter.

Clear Indoor Areas

During the winter, it is easy for snow, slush, and ice to get tracked into a warehouse.  You must keep indoor paths clear of this debris and other objects for safe operation.

As the winter approaches, make sure you prepare your forklifts and discuss proper winter maintenance with your operators.  These simple forklift safety tips will help prevent accidents that could lead to employee injury or costly damage.  If any forklifts in your fleet breakdown or sustain any type of damage from winter operation, contact RHI Lifts for our forklift maintenance services.  We provide full forklift repair and maintenance services in the Chicago area and we also offer maintenance plans to keep your forklifts in good repair.