When should you replace your forklift forks?

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Each day your Indiana warehouse uses your forklift, you put a little bit more wear and tear on your forklift forks.  Eventually, the forks will wear down to the point that they should not carry any more loads. Forks left on too long can bend or break, leaving you with damaged merchandise or a hurt operator.  For a safe and efficient operation, you need to use the best practices for when and how you should replace your forklift forks.

Routine Inspections Let You Know When to Replace Forklift Forks

OSHA stipulates daily inspections of forklifts, including forks. If the forklift is used on a 24-hour schedule, then you should inspect after every shift.  Forks will also be thoroughly looked over if you have a scheduled maintenance plan.  

Inspections should concentrate on bends, cracks, or any other wear and tear that would jeopardize the integrity of the forks.  Accidents and improper load management can impact the thickness and structure of your forks, but so can daily use. In fact, if your forks lose even 10% of its thickness from normal wear and tear, then they can no longer support the weight they were designed for and will have to be replaced.  

You should specifically look at:   

  • Blade and shank angle:  The angle of your forks should never exceed 93°.  If you see the shank or blade sagging, or if they are bent, then they must be replaced.  Never attempt to bend them back yourself, as you will just make the forks weaker.
  • Cracks and tip damage:  Watch out for even small cracks in the blade, especially in the heel and weld areas.  It doesn’t take long for those small cracks to become big cracks and snap the fork, causing damage to the forklift and your load.  Tips should be able to slide in and out of pallets without a problem, and each tip should rest at approximately the same height.
  • Fork thickness:  Metal on the forks will wear down even with routine use.  Use a fork arm wear caliper to check the thickness. When your forks are 90% of their original thickness, then they are considered worn beyond their carrying capacity and need to be replaced.
  • Hooks and positioning locks: Wear and tear can also happen to the hooks and locks.  Use calipers to make sure that the hooks aren’t bent or cracked. Positioning locks should always be tested that they can open and close without problems.

What to Do When You Need To Replace Your Forklift Forks

The best bet is to let a certified forklift technician replace your forks, so you know that they are assembled and calibrated properly.  If you do insist on changing them yourself, always follow the precise instructions in your manufacturer’s owners’ manual.  Different forklift models may have different ways to change the forks, and you do not want to damage the forklift by attempting an incorrect install.

Some warehouse managers will also take the opportunity to see if they need to upgrade to the right forks.  Since the forks are already going to be replaced, it may be the best time to get thicker forks for an increased load capacity.  You also may want to add an attachment that will help you perform a specialized task. Just remember, any changes that result in different load capacity or attachments must be approved by the manufacturer and a new data plate must be ordered to reflect the change.

Tynan Can Help Replace Your Forklift Forks

If you need to replace your forklift forks -- or change what forks you’re currently using -- let the experts at Tynan help.  Our certified technicians can service your Central Indiana Operation, whether it’s a one-time repair or a monthly service plan.  Call us at 317-597-4003, and we’ll make sure your forklifts are running well with just the right forks.

Know when you should replace the forks for your forklifts in Indiana

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