Friday, April 29, 2011

Doosan Sells Forklift Business

Doosan Infracore Co. agreed to sell its forklift unit to an affiliate and Standard Chartered Plc for $230 million to repay funds it borrowed to buy Bobcat units form Ingeroll-Rand in 2007. The transaction will be completed by the third quarter, Doosan Infracore, South Korea’s biggest construction-equipment maker, said today in a filing.

Read more here

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Power and Speed - Gotta have guide to forklift engines

Do you need the biggest engine in your forklift? Is bigger always better? Common sense would make you feel that you want as much power as possible for a reasonable price. So do you want and engine that makes your forklift go fast? Do you need it to be able to climb steep grades? Do you need your forklift to be able to pull heavy loads? Have you even really thought about this? These are really very relevant question in the scheme of buying and owning a forklift. It is something you should really consider because it can significantly impact your equipments ability to get your job done and get it done safely and efficiently 
Hyundai L4KB 2.4L Engine

So what are the means by which you can evaluate the engine available in the different forklifts on the market today? Well, there are several and we will discuss them in this post so you can get a better understanding of them. They include, engine size, horsepower, gradeability, drawbar pull, and lifting speed and here is what they mean and how they can affect your work process.

Engine size is just what it says. The larger the engine, typically measured in cubic inches or liters, means you engine is capable of generating more power. Power is typically measured in horsepower (hp) or by the metric equivalent of Kilowatts (Kw). The question remains, how much power do you need? Can you get to much power?  Can you get to little? The answer is that these factors are really not good ones to base a decision on. That is where the following three factors come into consideration.

Gradeability - Forklifts ability to climb a grade at a given speed. Most manufacturers will specify this value as calculated with or without a load. The value with a load is always higher. Typically, these values run between 20% and 40%. Operators who use forklifts in an environment where ramps or sloped surfaces must be traversed should look at this specification closely to assure that they can move their loads safely. Most safety trainers will tell you that a grade above 10% is bordering on unsafe. The danger is that, on slopes or ramps that have a grade of greater than 15%, there is a increased likelihood that when ascending or descending, the unit may break traction and start wheel spinning when going up or sliding when going down. Once the truck starts to slide, there is a very high likelihood that it will not slide in a straight line and in a good laterally level condition. If this situation begins to happen, there is a very high probability of a lateral tip over. So considering a lift that will go up a grade of 40% is unreasonable and unsafe. It also means that you should look closely at the other specs because that forklift design probably gave up some other ability to accomplish such a high score.

Drawbar pull - The amount of weight a forklift can pull. Again, this value is calculated by most manufactures for the forklift carrying a full load or not. Again, the lift with the load will be able to pull more because the test is done until the tires begin to break traction. Once again, you need to determine how much is necessary. There are situations in which you need the power to get the equipment to move safely and efficiently over certain terrain. Even in a warehouse with smooth level floors, conditions exist where power is helpful and will actually allow the operator to move slower and safer. Driving in and out of refrigerators, containers, etc, an operator can find themselves in a situation where the wheels of the forklift are stopped against a bump, threshold, the lip of a dock plate. The forklift has to have the power to be able to safely maneuver over the uneven area and here is where power is helpful.

The final strength/power characteristic to consider on your forklift is speed. Not the speed with which the forklift can drive from one end of the building to the next. Instead, the speed that we are going to look at is lifting speed.

Lifting Speed - The speed with which your forklift can raise its load. This again raises issues of safety and  at the same time productivity. The power of the engine in your lift has a great deal to do with the efficiency and speed with which your forklift can raise its load. The ability for that engine to drive the hydraulics will result in a lift that can lift more quickly. Not having to wait on your lift to raise a load can be a huge efficiency improvement versus a slower unit and if your racks are quite tall, this issue is multiplied. But how fast is too fast? There appears to be no publicized information on a standard for this area. I think the answer here is that you want to have the ability to raise loads as quickly as you can safely maintain control.

So take a minute and think about how these three factors can affect your work process. Do you have grades, slopes or ramps you need to move merchandise on? Do you have lots of uneven ground or terrain you need to traverse? Do you need to lift regularly to high levels? You need to consider these environmental factors and the published specifications of the forklift you are looking at to make sure it has the ability to do what you want it to do. There many different forklifts and they come with a variety of engines in them. These companies have each designed their forklift differently to cater to their clientel.  The result is a variety of performance combinations. You need to do a comparison and make sure you are getting your money's worth.

To illutrate the variety of enigne configuration, we have done a sample engine comparison.  This example compares engines found in 5,000 lbs cushion tire forklifts. Get a free copy of it by clicking the button at the top of the page.

Friday, April 22, 2011

LIft Truck - Choosing the brand that fits for your business

There are so many brand choices for a buyer to consider when making a forklift purchase. How do you decide which is right for you? Price, warranty, reputation, good salespeople, color of the forklift, or technical specifications are just a few of the factors to consider. Which is most improtant to you? We would like your input. In the meantime, we will discuss the pros and cons of each point.

Price, probably the most common factor people consider when making this choice, is a very signigicant one. Return on investment (ROI) is commonly discussed and most people want a large and quick return. But the price is just a small factor in this equation. One forklift companie likes to promote the fact that the purchase price is only 20% of the cost of ownership and 80% is the cost of upkeep. So many buyers are blinded by the purchase price and often will take this to the extreme and buy a very cheap used forklift . Soon they find out that the maintenance cost far ourweight what they paid for the lift.

Warranty, considered but only lightly by most buyers, may say a lot about the lift truck. Does a long warranty mean the product is well made? Does a short warranty mean the manufacturer is concerned about the durability of the product. What do you think? The bottom line is that if you get a product with a longer warranty your operating costs will be reduced for the length of the additional warranty. Again, this needs to be considered in the ROI equation. Something else that should be looked at is the cost of paying for and extended warranty. These are tricky but should be considered if they fit your need.

Reputation, is a very imperfect means for judging a lift truck. It is imperfect in that you are not able to get enogh inputs to get and unbiased point of view. That is what the marketing people are hoping you will do, so the one that spends the most on marketing is destined to win this part of the process. Make sure to only use this as a portion of your consideration.

Best salesperson, this could be good except for the fact that the salesperosn only represents a specific brand or two. There job is to convince you that there product is best. So again you find yourself getting imperfect information because it is only a portion of what is available.

More than anything with a lift truck, you must consider the specifications your business needs from your equipment. Not all equipment is created equal. There are many suttle differences in equipment based on the environment they are designed for. You must consider size, shape, power, speed and emissions just to name a few. Make sure you consider what your business needs.

We would appreciate you input on this subject. So please comment on this post. Additionally, we are going to provide some comparisons information for you to consider in our next few post. We hope this willhelp you to make the best purchase decision for you and your business. So subcribe to this blog for future posts on this subject. Thanks!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Forklift Repair - Knowing when to replace your forklift tires

One fact that is not well known is that Forklifts don’t have suspensions. As a result, everything rides on the tires. Tires are essential for softening the ride your employee, equipment and product experiences. So when your tires are low so is your forklift. In the past few blog posts we have attempted to educate you on forklift tires and understanding which one is right for your job environment.

You should realize that the average forklift tire is carrying over 9600 pounds on the drive tires, and about 1300 pounds on the steer tires and they do this while your truck turns, stops and accelerates getting the load to and from points within your workplace. To do this safely it should be in the best condition possible while it lives through its wear life [anywhere from a thousand running hours or more dependent upon your floor conditions and use]. So lets look at your tires and discuss the type of wear you may see and why.
First of all there are cushion tires. Since they are made of vulcanized rubber, they wear slowly but can be damaged easily. Some of the types of wear you may see are;
1. Simple wear: Your forklift tires have a 50% wear line; it’s just above the tire size. When the top of the tire meets the wear line it’s time to start thinking of replacing the tires.

2. Chunking: Pieces of the tire rubber are falling off, caused by litter or debris on the floor, spinning over rough surfaces, or striking objects while in use. This is a harsh one, often a great cause of the truck rattling while being driven.
3. Tearing at the surface: Caused by littered floors embedding foreign materials, bad dock plates or running across sharp machinery edges
4. Flat spots:. When the truck, personnel and product are shaken as they move. This is often caused by spinning the tires during acceleration, frequent sharp turns under heavy load, or misadjusted brakes.
When it comes to Pneumatic tires, the issues are different. Here you need to pay attention to;
  1. Under inflation: This can compromises stability and accelerates wear. Use the pressure settings on the side of the tire as a guide to what pressure to maintain. Moreover making hard turns under load with an under inflated tire can fold the tire, causing it to let loose of the rim resulting in a violent shift in the equipment and load. Under inflation will also reduce your lift trucks fuel efficiency.
  2. Over inflation: This will result in less stopping power due to a lessening of the tires traction. It will also cost you more through expedited wear. 
  3.  Sidewall cuts from objects struck by the tire threaten sudden shits in the unit with the loss of air pressure, and in the case of foam filled tires will allow the fill to ooze out causing the unit to lean in the direction of the damaged tire.
  4. Over worn solid or resilient tires can cause the lift truck to run rough or shake on harder surfaces, reducing the driver’s ability to control the unit, and reducing the stability of the load.  
Tires that are worn or low can cause several problems for the forklift owner and operator. Tire wear never happens evenly on a forklift and therefore your forklift can become unstable . Low tires mean that your forklift has a greater chance of a transmission housing becoming damage by hitting a dock plate or debris on the floor.  Also remember the smaller the tires, the faster they turn and the harder your transmission works, which could lead to overheating . Damaged tires will lead to greater vibration of the forklift, which often leads to accelerated equipment and driver fatigue. An overly tired operator is often unsafe and a fatigued forklift will begin to have repair issues.  So pay attention to the conditon of your forklift tiress.  If you are still unsure about your forklift tires, give us a call and we will evaluate them for you.

For those of you who do need tires, have we got a deal for you.  Take a look at our Spring Service Special going on now by clicking the button above

sources: Kyle Thyll - Toyota Lift of Minnesota

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tires, Tires, Know Your Forklift Tires Part II - Pneumatic Tires

Pneumatic Forklift Tires
 As we continue our education about forklifts, the types and available features, we explore the second of three types tires and probably the most common tire know as, the Pneumatic tire. As the term implies, pneumatic tires were originally designed with an air inner tube. Forklift manufacturers have incorporated these tires into their product designs to deal with specific environmental challenges that this equipment may endure. These tires are used on lift trucks that need to be able to leave the smooth and well paved foundations of the warehouse and go outside onto uneven or possibly undeveloped ground. Please keep in mind that the tires are not interchangeable on the forklift so you need make sure the lift you buy is correct for use in your the environment.

The original air pneumatic, as was stated earlier, comes with an air inner tube. Operators utilizing this tire choose it for its smooth ride, as the overall tire is softer and cushions the ride. This tire is also the least expensive of the three. But it does have drawbacks that one must consider. The air inner tube is susceptible to puncture and then requires the tube to be patched or replaced. To accomplish this, the tire must be completely removed from the forklift and repaired. This can be costly and the down time is an issue too

As time and technology have progress, tire manufactures have developed two additional styles with similar functionality Developed in an effort to provide a lift that is smooth riding but resistant to puncture, tire dealers have developed a process to fill these tires with foam. This is accomplished by taking the regular tubeless or tube type tire and pumping it full with liquid polyurethane material. The material goes into the valve stem on the older style pumps and through the sidewalls on the newer pumps. The foam fill is a two-part material consisting of an A-side and B-side. When the two sides are pumped into the tire, the material mixes and cures out for 24-48 hours depending on the outdoor temperature. The curing process can be sped up in the wintertime by preheating the fill and keeping the tires warm after being pumped. Air is released during the filling process by drilling a hole through the top of the tire. Once all of the air has escaped, the tire will be plugged and then pressurized.

Finally, the third style is referred to as a Solid Pneumatic. In the design of this tire, the manufacturer has basically eliminated the cavity for the inner tube and made the tire solid rubber. Made of solid rubber, the tire has no hollow portion and is totally made of solid rubber. Some manufacturers make them in 2 layers while some make them in three layer rubber compounds. The tire consist of the outer layer, a medium core and softer core to get the smooth cushion feel while having the confidence of a flat free condition. The solid rubber design does have one drawback and that is that the ride on the forklift is now much harder than it was with the air pneumatics. The solid pneumatic tire has proven to be one of the most significant innovations in the forklift tire industry.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Forklift Maintenance - How to water your electric forklift battery

Electric forklifts are relatively maintenance free with one exception, forklift batteries.  Most electric forklifts utilize a lead-acid battery and it is critical that these batteries have adequate water in them to get the maximum use and life that they are capable of providing.

This video, hosted by George Espinoza , Customer Service Manager for Hyundai Forklift of Southern California, covers the important steps in maintaining your forklift battery.  George has been helping customers with their forklifts for over twenty years and as he states in the video, the number one question gets asked is, "What do I have to do to maintain my forklifts battery.

Batteries need to have the proper water level in them to assure complete and safe charging.  Because batteries boil when they charge, you don't want to much water, just enough. Water levels should be checked after charging to avoid over filling the battery. Enough water is to have the battery water level high enough to cover the lead plates inside each cell.  The illustration to the right shows what that means.

Please use caution when working with your battery and especially when adding water.  Wear eye protection and rubber gloves to protect you int the case of a splash when adding water.

If you have any additional questions on this issue or other maintenance issues, George would be glad to help you. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tires, Tires, Know your Forklift Tires - Part I - Cushion Tires

The most improtant forklift part for you to know something about is the forklift tire.  Forklifts ride on tires and the number of tire options can be confusing.  Selecting the correct tire can save you money and improve safety.

There are typically three tire options and several sub-options within those options.  There are cushion tires, pneumatic tires, and caster tires. Today, we will discuss the Solid Cushion tires and why you would choose this option.
Cushion Tires

Cushion tires are typically used on forklifts used indoors or on smooth concrete surfaces.   They come in two basic configurations, smooth and traction.  The traction tire option is a cushion tire that has a tread cut into it.  They are best used in situations were the forklift may encounter some moisture and there for a little bit more bite is necessary for good traction.  Smooth cushion tires are tires with a smooth surface and are built for long wear and stability.  The outer surface is hard and designed to reduce cut and chipping and the inner material is built for greater cushion, hence the name.

Forklifts are designed to use specific tires and hence the interchange of tires between lifts is not recommended.  Cushion tire forklifts have lower clearance because the are designed to be used on very smooth and level surfaces, like a warehouse floor.  As a result, these forklifts and tires do not do well outside for several reasons.