Reasons Hand Pallet Trucks are a Good Investment for Your Business
There’s a wide variety of material handling equipment that employees use to make easy work of moving around heavy loads and goods. Such equipment can be seen not only in warehouses or factories but also loading docks, retails shop floors, construction sites, storerooms and any business handling large amounts of goods at any given time. Loads of this type can be safely transported within the premises, and have the worker’s safety as a priority. Lifting heavy loads now is a straightforward process, meaning efficiency, expedience and safety. Different equipment will be better suited to handling loads of different sizes and weights. One of the most common, versatile and cost-effective pieces of equipment is the humble pallet truck.
What are Pallet Trucks?
Pallet trucks or pallet jacks are lifting devices used to lift and transport pallets. They consist of a pair of steel fork tines set on steel rollers and a lifting mechanism, either manually or electrically powered through input from the store person. Pallet trucks can lift and lower materials of different sizes and weights, and move them in designated areas with the premises. Two basic types exist – hand operated pallet trucks and electric pallet trucks.
Hand Pallet Trucks
Hand pallet trucks are operated by a steering mechanism extending from a drawbar. The fork tines are placed in the pallet, and the operator lifts the pallet with manual pumping. Once lifted to the desired height, a handle locks the forks in place. The drawbar can rotate in both directions, allowing for easy movement. Heavy-duty wheels move with the drawbar and balance the weight with the fixed rollers in the forks.
Different types of hand pallet trucks are used. They vary by the total weight they can lift and the height to which they can lift the pallet. In addition, there are differences in the length and width of the forks, and how high these are set from the ground.
The simplest and cheapest hand pallet trucks can lift pallets weighing up to 1000 kilos. They are the ones that take up the least amount of space so are suitable for smaller spaces like retail storage rooms. Standard industrial pallet trucks used for heavier loads can lift up to 2500 kilos and these are most often seen around factories, workshops and warehouses. Heavy-duty hand pallet trucks can lift upwards of 5 tons.
The majority of manually operated pallet trucks lift loads up to 20 centimetres off the ground. Hi-lift trucks, however, can lift loads up to 80 centimetres and include stabilisers, support legs and descending controls to ensure that loads are secure at all times. Hi-lift trucks are commonly found in the pharmaceutical and food industry.
The forks can be set at different widths to lift different types of pallets. Standard pallets of 680mm, Euro pallets set at 520mm, and small skids 450mm wide, all require a different type of pallet truck. In addition, there are low-profile pallet trucks with a ground clearance of only 35mm. These are good for low skids. Standard pallet trucks have forks set at 85mm in height. The length of the forks also varies. Standard lengths are set at 1150mm for standard pallets, whereas extra-long forks can reach 2500mm, and are good for carrying two pallets at a time.
Pallet trucks with two semicircular arms are used to transport large steel drums. The arms are locked once the drum is in place. These trucks are common in the chemical, oil, food and construction industries. Another variant seen in timber and brickyards is the rough terrain pallet truck, set on large front wheels for easier movement on uneven ground. They are heavy, but adequately built for the intended loads.
Semi-Electric and Electric Pallet Trucks
Two types of semi-electric pallets trucks are used – those with electrically assisted lifting and manual movement, and those with hand lifting and electrical movement. Compared to hand pallet trucks they require less physical effort, meaning they are faster to load and unload, and quicker around the premises. They’re typically used in moderate to large warehouses, where more pallets need to be moved at a faster rate. Semi-electric pallet trucks do come at a cost though, so ensure the investment pays off.
Electric pallet trucks are completely motorised, meaning both loading and movement is done with the aid of a battery-powered electric motor. They can lift and transport loads of 1500-2000 kilos. Electric trucks require the least amount of physical effort, meaning the least risk of injuries. They have inbuilt safety features to minimise accidents, like programmable speed and braking settings. For very large warehouses, look to stand-on electric pallet trucks; heavy-duty variants that speedily move a variety of goods at larger distances. These are the most expensive to buy, running in the mid-thousands, and the most expensive to maintain.
Benefits of Hand Pallet Trucks
Hand pallet trucks are ideal for smaller businesses, with fewer employees, and that move moderate amounts of goods on a daily basis. They come in a variety of fork types and lifting capacities and can handle different types of pallets and loads. They are way lighter than semi-electric and electric pallet trucks, take up less space and can be quickly transported. If you’re on a tight budget and need to move goods in tight spaces, then consider a hand pallet truck for your material handling needs.