The Parts of a Forklift—it’s a Matter of Synergy!

The Parts of a Forklift—it’s a Matter of Synergy!

You’ve probably heard the phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." But what does it mean and how does it apply to a forklift? First coined by the philosopher Aristotle, the phrase refers to the idea that there is such a connection among the individual parts that it is better than what each one would be individually; also known as synergy.

The lift truck is a remarkable piece of equipment and vital in the material-handling industry. Like all machines, it uses energy to perform an action. It operates by using a series of interconnected and mutually dependent parts or events. Let’s review the major parts [1] that make up the whole of the most common industrial forklift.

  • Mast - The mast is the vertical assembly that does the work of raising, lowering, and tilting the load. It is located toward the front of the forklift inthe operator’s direct line of vision and supports the carriage.
  • Carriage - The carriage is located in front of the mast and is used to mount the objects controlled by the mast, including the forks and load backrest. The carriage consists of flat metal plates that move along the mast by chains or are directly attached to the hydraulic cylinder. The hydraulic lift cylinder supplies the power to lift the load. The tilt cylinder controls the tilt movement of the carriage and the angle of the forks.
  • Forks - The forks (also known as tines or blades) carry the load. They have a heel where they curve upward and a straight shank where they are attached to the carriage.
  • Cab - The cab contains a seat for the operator, the controls, and instruments dashboard. The cab area may be open or enclosed, but it is covered by an overhead guard assembly.
  • Overhead Guard - An overhead guard is a metal roof designed to protect the operator from falling objects.


Image of electric forklift with component descriptions

  • Controls - Before operating a forklift, read and study the operator's manual discussion on controls. Locate each control and understand how to use each one. They include: Forward/Reverse Directional Controls, Hydraulic Lift Controls, Pedals, Parking Brake
  • Instruments - Forklifts have a variety of instruments on the dashboard. Read your operator’s manual and become familiar with each of the warning lights and gauges. They include: Instrument Panel, Oil Pressure Gauge, Temperature Gauge/Light, Transmission Temperature, Fuel Gauge, Hour Meter, and Battery Discharge Indicator
  • Power Source - Forklifts powered by internal combustion engines run on a variety of fuels, including gasoline, diesel fuel, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), and compressed natural gas. The engine is typically located toward the back of the forklift under the seat. For easier access, LPG tanks are mounted externally. Electric-powered forklifts are powered by an industrial battery. They are most commonly used indoors in warehouses. Unlike internal combustion forklifts, electric forklifts are quiet and generally non-polluting.
  • Counterweight - In some forklifts Counterweights are used to secure a proper weight distribution and maintain stability. It is attached to the rear of the forklift to counterbalance the load being lifted.
  • Tires - There are several different types of forklift tires, depending on how the forklift is used. The two main types are pneumatic tires and cushion tires.
  • Nameplate - Each operator is required to be aware of the truck specifications on the nameplate and what they mean. If there is a particular attachment, it must be listed on the nameplate.
  • Danger, Warning and Caution Labels - In addition to the nameplate, forklifts may have other warning labels or decals that provide safety information to operators. Labels should be visible to the driver and must be replaced if missing, damaged, or illegible.
  • Other Safety and Warning Devices - Forklifts can incorporate many warning and safety devices to help protect operators, pedestrians, other forklift operators and others. They include: Seat belts and similar restraints, Horns, Backup alarms that sound when forklift reverses, Fire extinguisher, Warning lights that flash, Directional signals and brake lights, Mirrors.

This overview focuses on the major parts of the most common forklift design. As you can see, its separate parts work together for the whole of an impressive machine; one that is significant in the material-handling industry.

In Hazleton/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and surrounding areas, Action Lift is ready to be your material-handling solutions partner. We provide our customers with high-quality replacement parts at the greatest value. With our vast inventory of parts, quick turnaround time and reliable service, you can count on our parts department to get you back on the job – FAST!

At Action Lift, we aim to provide high-quality replacement parts at the greatest value.


References

[1] https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/forklift/basicparts/index.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forklift#/media/File:Forklift_Truck.jpg