There are a surprising variety of forklift trucks in existence and they also have a long and fascinating history. What makes them unique is that they are so powerful and heavy work is made easy for the workers involved. From counter-balance to telescopic trucks their capabilities are endless.
Overview and History
Forklift trucks actually come under a variety of different names. Some call them simply forktrucks others a lift truck or forklift and some even call them tow-motors. Used generally to transport material, forktrucks were first introduced in the 1960s by a number of different companies including the hoist company Yale and Towne Manufacturing and the transmission manufacturers Clarks. Since this time the forktruck has become an essential piece of machinery throughout the warehousing and manufacturing sector.
However, in reality their origins lay much further back than this. In fact, early incarnations of forklifts were around as early as the nineteenth century, while the modern truck we know today was largely based on those that were developed much later in the twentieth century. In 1906, for example, the Pennsylvania Railroad introduced platform trucks that were powered by batteries for the purpose of moving luggage around their Altoona-based train station.
It wasn’t until during the First World War however, that early forklifts became apparent in the UK. Various organisations including Sims and Jeffries of Ipswich and Ransomes began to develop equipment used for lifting and handling. A main reason for this was because of the shortage of manual labour due to drafting and many companies sought alternatives to man power.
In a similar vein, more developments were made during the Second World War as more efficient methods for storing and manoeuvring were sought. Greater heights had been introduced in warehousing and equipment that could reach these heights was therefore required. Finally, the Japanese got in on the act with Toyota producing their first models, the Modal LA, in 1956, selling their first model to the States in 1967.
There are numerous different types of truck on the market these days all of which are designed for their own specific purpose. The counter balance truck is perhaps the most common, while these also come in several varieties including the Sit Down Centre control version and the Stand on Centre Control version. Counter balance trucks are generally electric powered.
Another popular version is the Reach truck. This, as the name suggests has been especially designed to reach up to great heights in addition to being able to manoeuvre through narrow aisles. There is a variant of the reach truck called the Rider Stacker Forklift and these also come in various versions such as the moving mast model which is common throughout the world and the moving carriage version which is particularly common in the US.
Other versions include the Walkie Stacker, the Towing Tractor, the Rider low lift truck, which are all generally electrically powered, while there is also the very simple hand pallet truck which has no system of power at all, aside from the strength of the user-operator.
AUTHOR BIO : Diyana writes regularly on the subject of industrial equipment and machinery for a wide variety of related websites and blogs. She spent many years driving a variety of forklifts himself whilst working in the warehousing industry.