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.

1 comment:

second hand forklifts said...

Toyota created the first system of active stability standard in the world, using automotive safety technology to electronically monitor and control the operation of their forklifts.