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Inspection and Maintenance of Forklift Brakes

Inspection and Maintenance of Forklift Brakes

Oct 31, 2017

Forklift operators must have a good understanding of how the components of a forklift work so that they can immediately recognize problems before they lead to larger equipment issues or an accident.  The brakes are one of the most important forklift parts to inspect and maintain because a malfunction can lead to a serious accident, risking injury or death to your employees.  Forklift brakes typically have a lifetime of 5,000 to 7,000 driving hours, and they accumulate dust and debris buildup on the brake shoes that must be blown out every 250 hours.  This is why it is so important for your forklift operators to know how the braking system works and to routinely inspect the system to make sure the brakes are in working order.

This guide explains the components of the forklift braking system, as well as how to properly inspect and maintain forklift brakes to ensure safe operation.

Forklift Brake System

Inspection and Maintenance of Forklift BrakesForklift braking systems consist of many component parts, including the drums, shoes, lining, and fluid.  The brake drums and shoes are the main components of this system; the shoe is the part of the brake that is pushed against the drum to stop the wheels from moving.  Brake shoes consist of two pieces of steel, including the brake lining which is the part that makes contact with the drum and creates the friction needed to stop the forklift.  The brake lining is heat and wear resistant to withstand the friction caused by braking and it is powered by the brake fluid.  The brake lining will slowly wear down over time and need to be replaced.  If worn out brake lining is not replaced, it can cause damage to the brake drum and shoe, requiring both to be replaced

Causes of Forklift Brake Failure

While all forklift braking systems can and will naturally wear down over time, there are several behaviors that can accelerate wear and tear and quickly lead to damage.  Make sure your forklift operators avoid the following behaviors:

  • Operating the forklift with the parking brake on: The parking brake must always be disengaged before operation.
  • Driving fast and braking hard: This will put extra stress on the braking system and cause the brake lining to wear out faster.
  • “Two-footed” driving: Driving with one foot on the brake will quickly wear out the lining and cause damage to other parts from the excessive friction.
  • Failure to inspect braking system: Excessive wear of the brake lining and debris buildup on the brake shoes can cause significant damage if these issues are not caught and addressed during inspections.

Inspecting Forklift Braking System

The most effective way to avoid issues with the forklift braking system is to check them routinely before each shift.  Pre-shift inspections are not only important for the upkeep of your equipment and the safety of your operators; they are required by the Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).  During the inspection, you must check all the component parts of the braking system including the shoes, drums, brake pedal, parking brake, fluid level, and wheel  hubs.  Check the resistance of the brake pedal to ensure that it can stop the forklift in a safe distance, and make sure the parking brake can hold a 15 percent grade.  Every 250 driving hours, blow the dust and debris from the brake shoes.  A certified technician should do a more thorough inspection of your brakes every 2,000 driving hours.

By knowing how the braking system works and routinely inspecting it for issues, you can prevent accidents or malfunctions that lead to further damage or injury.  Create a procedure for checking the brakes and make sure your forklift operators follow it on a daily basis.  If you do notice a problem with the braking system of a forklift that you cannot fix, you can call the forklift repair and maintenance experts of RHI Lifts.  Our technicians have the expertise to repair malfunctions in the braking system, as well as any other problems you may encounter with your equipment.

How to Properly Use Forklift Safety Equipment

How to Properly Use Forklift Safety Equipment

Sep 29, 2017

Companies that use their forklift fleets on a daily basis must emphasize forklift safety to protect their products, and more importantly, their employees.  Good forklift safety starts with well-trained operators that follow all the proper safety protocols, including preliminary checks and safe practices.  While practicing good forklift safety is a great start, you can make your workplace even safer by using forklift safety equipment such as safety sensors, forklift lights, and interactive smart systems.  In this guide, you will learn about each piece of safety equipment and how to incorporate them into your workplace.

Safety Sensors

How to Properly Use Forklift Safety Equipment - RHI Lifts Chicago, IL

Safety sensors are used in warehouses to help prevent collisions by detecting the motion of the forklift and warning the operator when it gets too close to a wall or rack.   In many warehouses, these sensors are mounted on the walls at eye level.  However, recent research shows that it is more effective to place these safety sensors on the ground.  The reason for this is because humans instinctively respond to threats from the ground, so the alarm is more likely to get the attention of your forklift operators.  If you use safety sensors in your warehouse, try placing them on the ground and see if this improves the response from your operators.

Forklift Safety Lights

Installing safety lights on your forklifts is another simple way to help make your workplace safer.  These warning lights flash in a strobe pattern or oscillating pattern that will quickly get the attention of nearby pedestrians as the forklift approaches.  These lights can also be seen from far distances to give pedestrians plenty of time to clear the path.  You can install audio alerts with your forklift warning lights as well for added safety.

Interactive Smart Systems

While the previous safety items discussed here are effective, they are only effective if your workers notice and react to their warnings.  Installing an interactive smart system can help automate workplace safety because these systems will quickly identify and alert your operator of any risks before they notice them.  These computer aided systems oversee the logistics of the forklift to better manage interactions with the foot traffic.  Many of these systems can also tell when there is a deficiency with the logistics or the forklift itself so you can make improvements.

Forklift safety is an extremely important concept and any company that uses a forklift fleet should always focus on ways to make these jobs safer.  Incorporating the forklift safety equipment discussed above will help improve the safety of your employees as well as the efficiency of your forklift fleet by reducing accidents.  Even with this safety equipment, good forklift safety starts with proper training.  If you have employees that need forklift training to learn good safety practices, RHI Lifts can help with our forklift operator training program.  We provide classroom and hands-on training in compliance with OSHA and ANSI standards.  You can call RHI Lifts at (847) 447-0700 to learn more about our forklift services.

Your Guide to the Different Types of Forklift Tires

Your Guide to the Different Types of Forklift Tires

May 22, 2017

If your company uses forklifts regularly, it is very important for you and your forklift operators to understand the differences between the types of forklift tires.  The tires are important features of a forklift because they directly affect the handling which impacts the safety and operation of the equipment.  The three main types of forklift tires are pneumatic tires, solid rubber tires or cushion tires, and polyurethane tires, and they each must be used in specific work environments.  The following information will help you understand the different types of forklift tires and their applications to ensure that you are using the right tires for the job.

Pneumatic Tires

forklift-sales-rentals-service-chicago-ilPneumatic tires are traditional tires that are made with heavy duty rubber with deep treads that have a strong grip.  These tires are quite versatile and they can handle the uneven surfaces inside warehouses as well as the rough terrain of outdoor jobsites like lumber yards and construction sites.  Pneumatic tires come in two different types; air pneumatics which are air filled tires, and solid pneumatics which are filled with liquid polyurethane foam.  Solid pneumatic tires are puncture proof and used for the toughest jobs.  Both types of pneumatic tires will help protect your forklift and extend its life by absorbing shocks.

Solid Rubber Tires

Solid rubber tires, also referred to as cushion tires, are tires made from solid rubber.  These tires do not inflate like pneumatic tires and instead are fitted around the metal band.  Solid rubber tires typically have a long life and they are cheaper to manufacture and maintain.  They are best in work environments with a smooth surface like warehouses and loading docks, and they have a small turning radius which is great for smaller spaces.  The disadvantages of solid rubber tires are that they are poorly suited for outdoor use and they do not have the same shock absorbing ability as pneumatic tires to protect the equipment.

Polyurethane Tires

Polyurethane tires are the most lightweight of the forklift tire options and they are typically used on electric forklifts for indoor applications.  These tires have low resistance and good traction, and they can handle a lot of weight.  They also have the best turning radius of the forklift tire types, making them ideal for use in small indoor areas.

Choosing Forklift Tires

forklift-tires-chicago-ilThe work environment and application should help you decide which forklift tires you should use.  Some forklifts are built for specific tire types and if this is the case with your equipment, you cannot switch to a different type of tire.  In general, forklifts built for outdoor use should have pneumatic tires because they are built to accommodate this type of tire and it is best suited to handle heavy duty outdoor use.  Electric forklifts that are used in small indoor spaces should have polyurethane tires for the small turning radius.

Here are some other factors to consider when choosing forklift tires:

  • Pneumatic tires can handle a higher weight capacity than the others.
  • Solid rubber tires and polyurethane tires are best suited for smooth surfaces.
  • Pneumatic tires have shock absorbing qualities that protect your forklifts and make the ride more comfortable.
  • Make sure the tires you choose are manufacture approved.
  • Used forklift tires in good condition can be used.
  • There are non-marking tires available in all three types, but they do not last as long as the standard tires.
  • Solid rubber tires can last 2-3 times longer than pneumatic tires.
  • Foam filled pneumatic tires are ideal for environments in which the tires might be punctured, but you need special equipment to fill them.

If you are looking to purchase a new or used forklift, you must consider the application you will use it for and buy a forklift that has the appropriate tires.  If your forklift can use different types of forklift tires, make sure the tire you switch to makes sense for your application and works with your equipment.  Talk to our professionals at RHI Lifts if you still have questions about the different types of forklift tires.  We provide maintenance and repair services for all forklift types and we can give you with valuable insight on the uses of the different types of forklift tires.

You can contact RHI Lifts by calling (847) 447-0700.

The Difference Between Monotrol Pedal Shifting and Lever Shift

The Difference Between Monotrol Pedal Shifting and Lever Shift

May 2, 2017

Many different companies rely on their forklift fleet for their production which means that their staff must be well trained to operate the forklift equipment.  Forklifts are somewhat complex machines to operate, as operators must simultaneously control the steering, shifting, and lift itself.  Traditionally, the gear shifting for forklifts is done with a lever shifter that operators control with their hands.  The introduction of the monotrol pedal, a pedal that shifts between gears, has helped free up the hands of forklift operators by giving them a way to shift gears with their feet.  Read the following descriptions to learn more about monotrol pedals and lever shifters for forklift shifting.

Forklift Lever Shifter

Forklift-Training-Services-in-Chicago-ILForklifts with lever shifters work in a similar manner to vehicles with manual shifting.  The lever shifter is located in the operator cab near the steering wheel and other levers used to control the hydraulic lift and various attachments.  It is common for forklifts to have two shift levers, one to shift between forward, neutral, and reverse, and a gear shift lever to select gear ratios that determine travel speed.  Operators must press down on the clutch pedal when shifting between gears.  The gear shift lever gives operators good control over the speed and gear shifting of the forklift.  However, the use of these hand levers along with the pressing of the clutch pedal can make the overall operation more complicated.

Monotrol Pedal Shifting

The monotrol pedal is a pedal that controls the shifting and acceleration of the forklift.  This pedal allows operators to switch between forward and reverse with their feet, and it also controls acceleration which eliminates the need for another gear shifting lever and clutch pedal.  Forklifts with monotrol pedal shifting are less complicated to operate than those with lever shifters and they give operators more freedom with their hands to better control steering and the lifts.

The main issue with monotrol pedals is that they are more difficult to control than traditional lever shifters.  Forklifts with monotrol pedals do not have different gear settings to help control the speed which means that the speed is determined by the amount of pressure you put on the pedal.  If the pedal is touchy, inching forward can be difficult.  These pedals are also a potential safety issue.  If an operator accidentally steps on the pedal as they are entering or exiting the machine, the forklift will move.  Forklifts with lever shifters will not move until the operator puts the forklift in gear.

Both forklift shifting mechanisms have their advantages and disadvantages that you must carefully consider when choosing between the two.  Regardless of which style shifting your forklifts have, it is very important for you to provide extensive forklift operator training for your employees to review basic operation and safety of your equipment.  In depth operator training is the most effective way to avoid accidents.  If you cannot provide training for your employees in-house, contact RHI Lifts for our forklift operator training services.  We provide training and certification classes for businesses in the Chicago area.  Give us a call at (847) 447-0700 for more information.

Indoor and Outdoor Uses of Forklifts

Indoor and Outdoor Uses of Forklifts

Mar 23, 2017

The forklift is one of the most important pieces of heavy machinery used in commercial and industrial environments.  Many companies depend on their fleet of forklifts to move product and materials quickly and efficiently, both indoors and outdoors.  The more efficiently the job is done, the better it is for your bottom line.  This makes it very important to choose the right forklift for the specific job and setting.  This guide explains the most common indoor and outdoor uses of forklifts as well as some things to consider when buying a forklift for an indoor or outdoor job.

Indoor Forklift Uses

Forklifts are commonly found in many indoor commercial settings including warehouses, retail stores, and distribution and shipping centers.  These forklifts are needed to transport heavy materials, stack materials for storage, and load and unload trucks.  The basic design of a forklift is best suited for lifting and transporting materials on pallets but they can also transport stacked boxes, drums, and crates.  There are a wide variety of forklifts available that are suited for indoor use and certain features like the size, tires, turn radius, and lifting abilities can be chosen for your specific environment.

Outdoor Forklift Uses

indoor-outdoor-forklifts-chicago-ilForklifts are used in a wide variety of outdoor settings from docks, junkyards, and recycling centers to lumberyards and outdoor home and garden centers.  One industry that puts outdoor forklifts to good use is the construction industry.  Forklifts are used on construction sites to transport heavy building materials as well as dumpsters, portable toilets, and other equipment needed at a jobsite.  Installing a hopper attachment gives a forklift the ability to transport and dump unwanted materials.  Typically, rough terrain forklifts that have a rugged design and high weight capacity are used in outdoor settings.

Electric vs Diesel Forklifts

Electric forklifts are becoming much more popular because they are less expensive to maintain, easy to operate, and much safer for the environment.  However, electric forklifts are not the best option for outdoor jobs.  These smaller, simpler forklifts are best suited for indoor uses and their lack of emissions makes them much safer inside than diesel powered forklifts.  Diesel forklifts are ideal for outdoor use because they have more speed and power and they can operate in tough weather conditions.  The major disadvantage of diesel forklifts is their emissions which makes them dangerous to use in some indoor environments.  It is important to take these differences into consideration when choosing a forklift for indoor or outdoor use.

Forklift Tires

Choosing the right tires for your forklift is extremely important for its safety and effectiveness.  Using the wrong tires for the application or terrain can be dangerous.  The following are the three most common types of forklift tires and their uses:

  • Pneumatic Tires: Pneumatic tires are heavy-duty rubber tires that are inflated with air. These tires have thick, tear resistant rubber with deep treads that can handle tough and uneven terrain.  Pneumatic tires are the best option for outdoor use.
  • Solid Rubber Tires: These tires are made of solid rubber around a metal band, they are not inflated with air. Solid rubber tires can be used for indoor applications but they can only be used for light outdoor work because they do not have the cushion of an inflated tire.
  • Polyurethane Tires: These tires are lightweight and have great traction to handle higher weight capacities. They can also provide balance by counteracting the weight of the forklift batteries.  However, polyurethane tires can only be used indoors.

If your company uses forklifts for indoor and outdoor applications, it is very important to make sure you use the right type of forklifts to best handle each application.  When acquiring a new forklift, you must also consider whether it will be used indoors or outdoors and get the best piece of equipment for the application.  RHI Lifts has a large selection of new and used forklifts for sale that are suited for both indoor and outdoor working environments.  Contact RHI Lifts to learn more about our forklift selection in the Chicago area.