Forklifts are common machines in most industries. Their purpose is to handle cargo and transport it to short destinations. These vehicles got their name from the gripping part, a device that moves along the frame for lifting and lowering, which looks like a fork. It can be in different shapes, too, depending on the size of the forklift and the load being transported.
Buying these maneuvering machines is a significant investment because their prices range from several tens to several hundred thousand dollars. Sometimes, that’s how much you have to pay even for used machines of well-established brands. In any case, you shouldn’t rush this purchase because you want to get the best bang for your buck.
Know Your Needs
For starters, think about what you need a forklift for and what working environment it will be used in. For example, it’s not the same if it’s a construction site or a wholesale warehouse. In the first case, it’s a place where there is a lot of dust, and this vehicle will be heavily used outside. In the second case, you need a lift truck that’ll enable you to lift the load to shelves and aisles.
Some other questions that need to be answered before you go shopping relate to how long the forklift will be in use, whether the machine requires a qualified operator, and whether you need any accessories or additional functions. In any case, it’s good to discuss these questions with a dealer before choosing a model that suits your needs best.
Budget and Financing
Before making such a large purchase, it’s very important to assess your needs and then plan your budget promptly. Since it’s a matter of buying a working machine that costs a lot, you will most likely have to take out a business loan or find some other method of financing. In most cases, manufacturers offer various financing methods and leasing.
In the latter case, you can go directly with the manufacturer or through the dealer. If you decide on the first option, it can be quite favorable, and if you go through a dealer, you may incur higher costs due to their intermediary fees. However, before you decide on any of these options, talk to your bank and consider the already mentioned business loan to buy working machines. Opt for whatever financing method has more favorable conditions.
Once you identify your business needs, you can determine the work scope for which you need a forklift. Based on that and the industry you work in, you can choose a specific model whose size, features, and load capacity suit your needs. This way, you prevent the purchase of inappropriate machines and wasting money.
For example, if you run a retail warehouse or a storage facility, a smaller forklift model, also known as an order picker, will do. It can lift and pick cargo from a height of up to 11 feet, which is approximately the height of the highest shelves in smaller warehouses. Due to the small capacity (usually no more than 700 pounds), battery power, and exclusive indoor use, these working machines are among the cheapest forklift models.
Reach trucks found on Sun Equipment forklifts are designed for use in aisles and higher lifts. With its compact, sleek design and easy handling, this machine can go up to 30 feet and support a load of up to 5,500 pounds. It’s an ideal choice for large warehouses, plants, and production facilities. In general, this vehicle is also intended for indoor use only due to its electric power systems and relatively small carrying capacity.
The lifting machine for outdoor use on construction sites, mines, lumber yards, and any rough terrain, is a sit-down counterbalance lift truck. It can be both electricity or fuel-powered, depending on which fuel is available and more cost-effective. Electric models are cheaper, but they take time to charge. Forklifts that use gas or diesel can be refueled and fully operative within minutes, but they cost a lot.
Maneuverability and Load Capacity
The good features of each forklift are great maneuverability and the possibility of easy adaptation to an increased volume of work. Maneuverability depends on the machine size, design, and ergonomy but mostly on the tire type.
For instance, pneumatic tires are great for outdoor use on rough and solid terrain, making them a great choice for heavy-duty use. On the other hand, cushion tires are softer and sit lower on the ground, delivering excellent maneuverability to a forklift. Finally, polyurethane tires are for indoor use only, as they provide a great add-on to machine wheels for indoor use, but they’re useless on rugged outdoor surfaces.
Regarding the capacity, always consider the weight load of a forklift. Although there are sit-up lift trucks that can handle up to 120,000 pounds, you should never push this capacity to its upper limits. Simply put, you shouldn’t exceed the maximum permissible load.
In fact, you shouldn’t fully load this machine because there’s a risk of losing stability and tipping over. Even though the support points work a good job so that a large load can go to a great height, it’s still best not to test the extreme limits of the forklift for safety reasons.
Depending on why you need the forklift, you can opt for some handy attachments. These can be fork extenders for more grip in a single load, positioners (to not damage pallets), side shifters for tight spaces, etc. In case you work with barrels and containers, you can add a rotator to your forklift for easier emptying. Also, you can add a man basket, an accessory that allows you to lift one or two people to a certain height, which comes in handy when you need repairs at height.
Choose a Reputable Dealer
When buying a forklift, you need to do that from a trusted dealer. Look for their reviews, track records, and testimonials from previous buyers. You can even go with online dealers, as this purchase is as safe as if you buy a forklift in a brick-and-mortar store.
Besides providing you with a high-quality working machine, reputable forklift sellers can perform emergency and general maintenance for their products and thus cut your downtime. They also have top-notch customer service at your disposal 24/7.
To make the most of your forklift investment, you have to do your research, set your budget, and find a reputable dealer. You need a vehicle that meets your needs and follows your work scope, so take your time to check all options and choose the best.