Here you can find basic information about general material handling topics.
What power sources are available for trucks and forklifts?
The power sources of forklifts and trucks can be divided into two general categories: engine-powered and electric-powered. All truck types have electric models while only counterbalance forklifts and towing tractors are available with engine power.
There are also so-called hybrid systems (that combine the advantages of engine and electric) and Fuel cell technologies.
What is engine power?
The power is generated through internal combustion (IC for short), where fuel ignites when being mixed with hot compressed air. The power is then distributed to all functions such as drive, hydraulics, and steering.
Engine power is a common power source for Counterbalance trucks and is also used for a few types of Towing tractors. Pros: Efficient at high speeds and rotation. Cons: The combustion of fuel results in emissions, making it a less suitable power source for indoor applications.
The precise design of the engine varies depending on which fuel is used and the most common fuel types are:
LPG (liquefied petroleum gas)
CNG (compressed natural gas)
What is electric power?
Electric trucks are powered by motors and an onboard battery. The energy is stored within the battery then converted by the motors to perform different functions. Most electric trucks have separate motors for each function, such as drive, lift, etc. There are different technologies available for both electric motors and batteries.
Motors: Today, the most commonly used motor for trucks and forklifts is AC (alternating current). Its predecessor DC (direct current), was used in forklifts but is now uncommon.
Pros: Electric motors can deliver maximum torque at start-up, making them very efficient in low-speed operations.
Cons: Demands planning around recharging.
Batteries: The two most common battery technologies are Lead-acid and Lithium-ion. Lithium-ion is more recent and efficient, but it's not the best choice for all operations.
What are pallets?
Pallets are cargo platforms that carry loads for distribution. They can be made of wood, plastic, and metal, and come in several different types and dimensions. Flat pallets are the most common. They are available in at least nine designs, each adapted for a more or less specific purpose. Other types of pallets are box-, post-, and sheet.
What do I need to know about pallets?
It's important to know which types of pallets your goods arrive on, and their dimensions and weight, when choosing a truck for your business. Both factors affect if, and how well, a specific truck can handle the loads in a safe and efficient way.
Warehouse trucks are specialized and effective - but are also more restricted on what pallets they can handle, compared to counterbalance trucks. They can have fixed forks or limited fork spread demanding specific measurements, and wheels on the forks hindering them from handling some pallet designs.
What is racking and what is it used for?
Racking is the metal shelves containing goods that you often see in warehouses. Their purpose is to create vertical storage space to maximize the quantity of goods that can be stored in a specific location. The act of storing goods vertically is called stacking and most racking solutions are designed for pallets.
The height of standard racking varies from a few meters up to 13 meters and is generally divided and described as low, medium, and high levels.
Racking can have many different layouts depending on:
Forklifts and warehouse trucks are grouped into classes within the material handling business. There are several regional classifications used around the world but the international standard is called WITS.
The WITS classes are:
Class 1 = Electric Counterbalance rider trucks
Class 2 = Electric warehouse rider trucks (VNA-trucks, Rider stackers and Rider reach trucks)
Class 31 = Electric low lift pedestrian trucks (with service weight below 250kg)
Class 32 = Electric warehouse pedestrian trucks (other than class 31; Pedestrian stackers, Horizontal order pickers and Tractors)
Class 3 = Internal combustion Counterbalance trucks (cushion and pneumatic)