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Indoor and Outdoor Uses of Forklifts

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.