In warehouses and factories, pallet trucks are the best solution for transporting heavy loads, quickly and efficiently. Any logistics operation relies heavily upon pallet trucks to maximize space and ensure a smooth flow of goods. Buying a pallet truck is a major investment of capital, so it is essential to choose the right one for the job and buy a pallet truck that will give years of uninterrupted service.
Many smaller businesses use manually operated pallet jacks, also known as pump trucks, to move loads, but they are very limited in their scope and capacity. A pallet truck incorporates a gas or electric motor to lift heavy loads and move them effortlessly around the warehouse.
How do Pallet Trucks Work?
Most pallet trucks operate upon the same underlying principles and have the same basic construction. Pallet trucks possess two flattened prongs, designed to fit snugly under standard pallets. The motor powers a hydraulic system that effortlessly raises the load off the ground, also providing the power to move the load. The most common type of pallet truck is known as the pedestrian pallet truck, where the operator walks behind the machine, steering it and controlling the speed. Alternative types of pallet truck incorporate a platform or even a seat, a great advantage where the machine sees heavy use.
The standard pallet jack requires a lot of physical strength to overcome the initial inertia and start the load moving, so the motorized pallet truck allows anybody to move heavy loads without risking accident or injury. Pallet trucks have the brute strength to handle heavy loads, but are agile enough to maneuver in restricted spaces, or navigate tight corners.
Pallet trucks are more tolerant of uneven surfaces and gradients than manually operated pallet jacks, and the operator does not need the extensive training and licensing required for driving a forklift. Forklifts offer far more options in terms of load capacity and the ability to raise loads to great heights, but the agility, ease of use, and small size of pallet trucks ensures that they occupy a unique niche.
Choosing the Right Pallet Truck for Sale
There are a few factors to take into account when attempting to find the best pallet truck for your needs. The first consideration is whether you need a standing platform or a seat, and that really depends upon the specific use. For example, a single operator, using the pallet truck for long shifts, may require a seat. On the other hand, an operator who needs to keep hopping on and off the pallet truck might prefer a pedestrian pallet truck, or one fitted with a standing platform.
If you decide to invest in a pedestrian pallet truck, make sure that it is fitted with a “dead man’s” handle. This important safety feature stops the truck if the operator releases their grip. If the operator trips, the dead man’s handle safety feature stops the pallet truck from running amok.
For such a major capital investment, budget is always a concern, but you must make sure that you do not cut any corners. Estimate the capacity required and include a decent safety margin – human nature means that your staff WILL overload it at some point. Apart from the danger of tipping, or the load falling on staff, overloading shortens the lifespan of the machine and racks up the expensive repair bills.
For certain industries, extra options are available. Some pallet trucks incorporate built-in scales and, for clean room environments, models are available in easily sterilized stainless steel or chrome finishes. All-terrain pallet trucks are a fine option where the ground is uneven, and find use in builder’s supply yards and large garden centers, for example.
The next consideration is the power source for the motor, and deciding whether you want electric, gas, or diesel power. For indoor use, electric motors are the safest option, and provide more than enough power for most tasks. Gas pallet trucks offer brute strength, but must not be used in enclosed spaces. They are most often used outdoors, and many of the all terrain pallet trucks are of this type. Diesel power trucks, whilst rare, are a great option where sheer lifting power is needed, and they are more economical if used for long periods.
Safety is Paramount
Motorized pallet trucks are much more complex than manual pallet jacks, making staff training an integral part of the process. A poorly operated pallet truck can cause severe injuries or even kill. Thousands of people, every year, suffer injury through poor driving or unsafe practices. A poorly loaded or uneven load can easily tip over, with the potential for serious harm. The operator must be able to see over or around the load, reducing the risk of collision.
Summary – Finding the Perfect Pallet Trucks for Sale
Pallet trucks are an essential addition to many industrial logistical operations, filling the niche between pallet jack and forklift truck. Pallet trucks combine easy operation and maneuverability, with power and lifting capacity.
There are many options available, but assessing your exact needs and listening to useful input from your staff will ensure that your chosen pallet truck will be an asset, not a curse.
For managers, safety specialists, operators and suppliers, lift truck safety is a top priority.
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