The forklift tines are very critical for the efficient operation of a forklift. However, failure to use them the right way usually leads to premature wear and tear or irreversible damage.
Some of the signs you can look out for during your pre-operation inspection are bent blades, surface cracks and bend fork-tips. However, most of these damages can be prevented if the right measures are taken.
Let's take a look some of the common ways tines get damaged;
Lifting Other Forklifts
Sometimes when there is a need to transport a forklift that has broken down its quite tempting to use another forklift to transport it. However, this is not a good idea as the weight of the forklift being transported might exceed the capacity of the forklift being used. When this happens the tines of the forklift are structurally damaged and this visible as bending.
Overloading The Forklift
Every forklift has a rated maximum weight that it can handle at a time. When this weight is exceeded by overloading the forklift the tines are put under a lot of stress that makes them bend. In most cases, the bending might not develop immediately but over time when the overloading forces the angle on the tines to extend beyond 93 degrees.
Improper Driving Habits
One of the most common improper driving habits in warehouses today is over speeding. When over speeding is rampant it exposes the forklifts to collisions. During such collisions especially with hard surfaces like walls or the body of other forklifts, the tines get damaged. The damage is usually an observable bending at the tips.
Lifting Unbalanced Loads
The tines come in a pair since they are designed to evenly distribute the weight of a load for maximum stability. When an unbalanced load is placed on them one of the blades sustains most of the weight eventually leading to bending. The result is uneven fork blades which should be replaced immediately.
Improper Use Of Attachments
Although attachments are usually important for certain applications they can lead to damage to your forklift tines. For instance, if the weight of the attachments is not considered, it is easy to overload the tines and expose them to structural damage. You should also ensure that the tines that you use are approved by the manufacturer of the forklift.
Therefore, if you want to maintain the integrity of your forklift tines always avoid overloading your forklift, carrying unbalanced loads, using improper attachments, and engaging in improper driving habits like over-speeding.
Signs You Need to Replace The Forks of Your Forklift
Failure to inspect and replace the forks of your forklifts poses a great danger to your personnel. To prevent this from happening Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends prioritizing checkups of the forks during pre-operation inspection. Additionally, you are advised to replace them swiftly in case of any noted damage.
To establish the damage on your forks you will need to look for modifications on the different parts of the forks resulting from wear and tear. Some of the parts you should consider checking for damage are;
The Positioning Locks and Heels
They usually support the shank at the carriage to enable the fork to easily pick up load. If they have any surface cracks then they are not in any position to support the forks optimally even while handling their rated load capacity. This is because they can break and give in to heavy load leading to unnecessary losses or injuries.
Through the use of the Fork Arm Wear Caliper you can also establish whether they are fit for use by sliding the back of the Caliper into the hook socket. The forks should be sent for repair if the lip of the hook pocket comes into contact with the Fork Arm Wear Caliper's back.
The Shank and Heels
Both the heel and shank of the fork play an important role when it comes to supporting the load and therefore should be checked for any surface cracks which make them unsafe for use. In addition to surface cracks, the shank should be measured for straightness using the caliper where a deviation of more than 0.05 of the original straightness renders them not fit for use.
The angle at the heel should be checked for a deviation of more than three degrees after which it should be sent for further checkup to establish if it has permanent deformation or stress cracks. Normally, it will then be recommended for repair or disposal.
Brand new forks normally have their tips at the same level therefore when one of their tips is higher than the other it’s a sure sign of damage that needs repair. Usually, a 3% deviation from the length of the fork blade length as measured by the Fork Arm Wear Caliper is enough to have it sent for repair. The reason being it won’t be very efficient while picking up load which can lead to damage on the load.
The blades of the forks perform the critical task of sustaining the load during transport and so they need to be firm. However, if they have visible cracks on the surface they pose the risk of breaking and dropping the load. If their straightness deviates by more than 0.05 as measured by the Fork Arm Wear Caliper then they should be repaired before being deployed for use.
Your personnel can also measure the thickness of the fork blade where a drop of more than 10% from the original thickness of the fork is enough to disqualify it from being used in normal operations.
As much as a replacement is always a viable solution to damage, forks are usually designed to be durable therefore prevention measures are highly recommended when they are still new. Usually most of the damage to the forks is basically due to negligence and can be averted in the early stages.
So what are some of the measures you can observe to ensure you take good care of your forks?
- Completely discourage the knocking of the forks against walls or columns during use. You will find it easy to reinforce this measure if you use certified personnel to operate your forklifts.
- Ensure that the loads that you are handling are equally balanced so that you don’t end up applying more pressure on one side of the forklift causing misalignment.
- Avoid using the forklift on loads that are much longer than the length of the blade as this will cause an abnormal bend at the heel.
- Every forklift has a maximum weight that it can handle, so ensure you are well versed with the capacity of your forklift before you or your personnel embark on any projects.
- Ban any modifications on the forks that are meant to equip them to perform tasks that they are not designed for unless you have approval from the manufacturer or a qualified engineer.
It is recommended that you do routine check-ups on the forks through careful inspection of its different parts. You should also make sure that your company has a policy that guides the employees on the dos and don’ts where the forklift is involved. This will ensure that you, your personnel and your goods are always safe during operations.
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