Inspect Lift Truck Fork
INSPECT YOUR LIFT TRUCK FORKS TO INCREASE YOUR SAFETY
If your business hasn’t been running, you’ll need to get your material handling equipment back in shape to run at full capacity. Aside from ensuring that the mechanics of your trucks are functioning properly, we’d like to bring some attention to another integral part of your equipment. When is the last time you inspected your forklifts’ forks? Keeping them in optimal shape is essential to the safe and efficient operation of your forklift fleet.
Forks are one of the most used items on a forklift and businesses are often not aware of their forks’ condition or quality. This useful forklift fork inspection guide will help you avoid pitfalls once you begin ramping up production.
SURPRISINGLY MANY WORN FORKS ON THE SHOP FLOOR
Did you know that it is recommended to check your lift truck forks for wear every year? A lot of lift truck drivers forget to perform this inspection. That’s a shame, as working with worn or cracked forks is dangerous. A regular inspection prevents serious consequences:
- Large or small cracks
- Falling loads caused by a breaking fork
- Damage to goods, racks or persons
In addition to dangerous situations, worn forks also entail additional costs: a direct cost such as the purchase of new forks, indirect costs such as the transshipment costs for loading and unloading goods or even an unforeseen cost caused by incapacitated personnel.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
What else can you do, besides checking your forks on a regular basis? A correct use of the forks is vital. Forks used in a correct manner not only increase safety, but also last considerably longer. By means of a simple visual inspection, you can quickly and easily assess the condition of your forks.
LOOK OUT FOR THESE SIGNS OF WEAR
Are your forks bent? Does the fork heel show hair fractures? Are certain sections of the forks getting thinner? These are all signs that your forks are on the decline!
MEASURING THE CONDITION OF YOUR FORKS
The condition of forks can easily be measured by means of the fork thickness gauge, a useful tool that can easily detect fork wear. Why is it important to measure the degree of wear? If the wear percentage is 10%, the capacity of the forks decreases by no less than 20%. So that is why we need to take into account the legislation (ISO 5057) that determines that, when only 90% of the original thickness of a fork remains, the fork must be considered worn.
But how do you proceed?
First you measure the thickness of the fork back with the outer teeth of the fork wear gauge. Next, you slide the gauge over the fork blade. Make sure that you measure at least 50 mm in front of the start of the heel radius. If the inner teeth of the fork gauge can slide freely over the fork blade, the fork is worn and must be replaced.
First, let’s become familiar with basic fork terminology: Back, Heel, Blade, Taper, Tip
- Wear — The material wear on the heel area of the forks cannot exceed 10% of the original section of the fork. Capacity of the fork is drastically reduced due to material wear.
- Surface cracks — Attention to all welds and internal heel area. Forks should be replaced if surface cracks are detected.
- Blade deflection or tip height — The difference of tip heights cannot exceed 3% of the blade length.
- Heel angle opening — The internal angle of the fork heel cannot exceed 93°.
- Marking legibility and Suspension devices — Fork identification according to ISO 2330 should be easily legible. In case of missing or unclear marking, the fork should be removed from service. Check if forks are securely locked to the equipment carriage. If there is extra clearance or damaged attachments, the forks should be repaired.
HOW CAN YOU EXTEND THE LIFESPAN OF YOUR FORKS?
The speed with which the forks wear out depends on a number of factors, among which the number of working hours (intensity of use) and the weight of the loads to be carried (daily load).
It is hard to predict when your forks will be worn. It is possible to prolong the lifespan of your forks by using them correctly.
Don’t lift loads that are too heavy for your forks. The maximum capacity per fork is stated on the side of the fork back.
Install your forks in the correct manner.
Never drag the forks across the floor.
Adjust the lift chains correctly, so that forks are situated sufficiently high above the floor.
Use a fork heel protector (see photograph) or fork wear plates.
Never push loads with the tips of the forks.
Never use the tips of the forks as a lever to lift heavy loads.
Using the wrong forks can have serious consequences. That is why prevention is better than cure. Regular inspection of the condition of the forks prevents many problems and costs. Also use your forks in a correct manner. Discover all necessary products to extend the lifespan of your forks.
You can also go to this website to view all forks, fork extensions and weighing forks offered by JOYEAR FORKLIFT attachments.
According to ISO 5057, forks must be inspected at least once a year by a trained professional. JOYEAR recommends the frequency as follows:
- For operations with 1 shift (up to 8 hours per day) = at least every 12 months.
- For operations with 2 shifts (up to 16 hours per day) = at least every 6 months.
- For operations with 3 shifts (up to 24 hours per day) = at least every 3 months.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
The points below will significantly reduce the life of your forks:
- Handling loads above the forks’ capacity
- Using only one fork to handle loads
- Applying side pressure/force on the forks
- Dragging the forks on the ground
- Making unauthorized repairs or modification to the forks
- Using the forks as a lever or crowbar to separate loads
- Using the forks to push or pull dragging loads
- Adding fork extensions longer than 150% of the fork original blade length
When to Repair and Replace Your Forks
Forks that are damaged or in disrepair can be dangerous.
- Defective forks should be promptly replaced or repaired to maintain the maximum safety and performance of your forklift.
- Fork repairs can only be performed by the fork manufacturer, or a certified company.
- Be sure to replace both forks, do not just replace a single fork.