How to inspect forklift forks and when to replace them
27 March 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202018379
THE metal fork attachments used on forklifts may seem indestructible, but eventually they wear out, just like any other machine component. Failure to carry out frequent fork inspections can result in a snapped fork, or a dropped load, which is not only expensive, but also dangerous.
That’s according to Heinrich Frederick, Pretoria Branch Manager: Criterion Equipment, who adds, “It is also important that operators never carry a load that exceeds the fork’s specific load capacity. The weight capacity of every fork attachment is indicated on the side of the fork shank/face – operators must be made aware of this.”
Additionally, he warned, forks are constantly subjected to abrasion, which can lead to reduced thickness of the fork blades, which means that forks are no longer able to handle their original load capacity. Just 10% wear can reduce load capacity by 20%, at which point the forks must be replaced.
“If blades are not the correct thickness, the fork attachment’s lifting capacity can be compromised. To prevent friction on the fork tips, operators should be encouraged to lift the fork attachement when the forklift is in use and when driving around a site.”
Frederick said it was critical that fork inspections were carried out frequently by trained personnel, with the aim of detecting damage, wear and tear or deformations that might impair the safe use of forklifts on site. “With the correct use of the appropriate measuring tools, it is easy to carry out fork inspections on-site, efficiently and accurately.”
To make sure every fork adheres to acceptable standards, Criterion Equipment recommends the use of three tools – a measuring card, which is used to measure the thickness of the fork’s heel and shank/face, a fork caliper to measure the fork thickness, angle of the fork bend and the latch space and a Vernier caliper, which measures thickness of the fork shank/face.
During inspections, it is important to make sure the fork’s shank/face and blade/heel angle do not exceed 93 degrees outwards and 87 degrees inwards. If this is the case, or if there is a bend in the fork toe, the fork must be replaced – never bend or weld forks back into place.
Check the entire surface of each fork for cracks and also inspect the thickness of the fork tip. If it is worn out, the fork must be replaced or re-machined. The fork heel is one of the first components of the fork to wear out. Be sure to check it well and make sure it is the same thickness as the rest of the fork blade.
It is also important to check the latches that attach the fork to the carriage to prevent it from moving around while driving the machine. Fork latches are the only components that are welded onto the fork.
Criterion Equipment’s service includes a refurbishment service, which encompasses cosmetic overhauls and general maintenance and repairs. It also offers a national field services facility, - which provides assistance during breakdowns, the repair and maintenance of machines and maintenance contracts – as well as delivery and collection of machines.