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counter balanced

Why do warehouses use counterbalanced lift trucks?

A counterbalanced lift truck is a forklift that counterbalances the weight of the load with a weight, usually cast iron or the battery, in the rear of the truck. It is considered a multi-purpose utility truck that can be used on docks or in aisles at least 10-12 feet wide. It can be a sit-down or a stand-up truck and handles block stacked pallet loads up to 4 high. Warehouses mostly use counterbalanced lift trucks for shipping and receiving and it makes an ideal lift truck for moving pallets to and from storage. Counterbalanced lift trucks are categorized as Class 1 trucks in material handling. They are usually the first to come to mind when thinking of forklifts.

There are two main types of counterbalanced lift trucks: stand-up and sit-down. Sit-downs can be broken down even further to a 3-wheel or a 4-wheel. If the operator is moving from dock to storage and not getting off the truck much, a sit-down model may be more sensible. Sit-down counterbalanced trucks work well for long-run operations with very few on and off vehicle requirements. A sit-down counterbalanced lift truck is a better choice of lower overall profile because it provides a vertical clearance for overhead obstructions. Sit-down counterbalanced trucks have better gradeability, lower wheel loading and faster travel speeds than a stand-up counterbalanced truck. Three-wheel trucks tend to be better for smaller aisle requirements and job that demand an increased maneuverability.

A stand-up counterbalanced lift truck will have a shorter head-length than a sit-down lift-truck, which gives the operator more room to maneuver in crowded docks and smaller spaces. This also makes the stand-up a viable option if a warehouse is looking to add more space for storage. Other benefits of the stand-up counterbalanced include multifunctional handle versus levers, plugging (opposite direction selected while traveling to stop) versus braking and visibility for travel in all directions.

Counterbalanced lift trucks come in a variety of capacities from 2,000 to 6,000 pounds. Fork lengths can vary and masts can are available in a variety of heights. All of these modifications are a good idea to look into before purchasing a counterbalanced lift truck for any warehouse operation.

If a warehouse is considering purchasing a counterbalanced lift truck it is best to consider the following specifications with the size of the truck and mast.

To determine the mast, one needs to know:

  1. Overall collapsed height
  2. Elevated height
  3. Extended height
  4. Hydraulic functions like side shift or mast tilt

To determine the size of the tractor, one needs to know:

  1. Maximum weight of load
  2. Height needed to store
  3. Hydraulic functions
  4. Mast needed to hand load and height requirements

A counterbalanced lift truck is most appropriate when attachments, cross-docking and dock-to-stock runs are required. Other applications include when the unit load or pallet locations are below 260 inches.

Counterbalanced trucks are not a good option for all warehouse operations. They are not good options for case or piece picking, working in narrow or very narrow aisles or load storage and retrieval above 260 inches.

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