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The right forks for heavy forklifts

Thursday, 19 September 2013 ( #634 )
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Click to enlarge image
With over 60 years of experience, Scana Booforge
is a world leading manufacturer of large and customized fork arms for heavy forklift trucks. Scana Booforge is focusing in the heavier segment and the fork sizes are applicable to forklifts exceeding 8 metric ton in capacity. This focus assures the design and quality which a large fork requires in order to withstand the heavy wear and tear of an i.e. 18 or 28 metric ton truck.


The fork lift is no forklift without forks.
With this in mind, one can wonder why many ignore the complete range of features a lift fork actually has. It's not just the right blade length, the capacity or the correct bracket set up. There's actually much more to consider. Let us try to explain why you should be more careful when choosing your forks:

Firstly, you can divide the lifting forks into two main segments:
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    Click to enlarge image
    Forks for the lifting capacity range from 1 to 7 Metric Tonne. Within this segment there are many volume manufacturers of forks and the forks are very much standardized, i.e. a fork delivered on a Jungheinrich would also fit a Toyota fork lift of the same class.
    For this segment you can buy forks from many different wholesalers who are buying the forks from different manufacturer. Even Chinese forks are coming strong in this segment.

  • Lifting forks for fork lift trucks with capacities exceeding 8 Metric Tonne. This segment has a blend of classifications and customized forks, especially, when the lifting capacity exceeds 16 metric Tonne. In this segment the lifting tasks becomes tougher and more specialized. Therefore, the fork lift manufacturer is more careful to have their own lifting carriage and bracket setup on the forks, to assure that the complete fork lift truck withstand the certified capacity.
    Moreover, the fork becomes much larger and heavier than for smaller forklifts. For this segment there are only a few fork manufacturers who are able to provide forks suitable for heavier lifting tasks.
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Click to enlarge image
Secondly, each manufacturer of forks has their own idea of how to meet the price challenge, as this is what you as a customer focus on. Below, we list some of the differences which affect your forks quality and durability and at the end, the price:
  • Material and different alloys, this is a crucial factor for the end quality of your forks.
    As the steel mills have developed a lot of different alloys to meet different requirements, the fork manufacturer can choose any material from poor but cheap, good enough for a reasonable price or high quality alloy but expensive.

    In this area there are no shortcuts, you get the material quality the manufactures of forks are paying for as the alloys are regulated on official price terms. The steel mills stick to these terms and one can't do so much about this when sourcing the material.
    So, price is very much dependent what material quality the fork has.

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    Click to enlarge image
  • Production methods affect the price differently as it's very much depending of the volume. There are manufacturer who have a fully automatic production line where no human hand touches the fork until it's ready. And there are manufacturer who more or less make the fork like old fashion craftsmanship.

    Small forks are mainly produced from flat bar. The bar is then put into a production line where gas cutting, upsetting and bending are carried out.

    Large forks for heavier tasks, 12 metric Tonne, can both be produced from flat rolled bar or from single hammer forged billet. Yield strengths and impact resistance aren't affected but the fatigue resistance is different between hammer forged fork compare to rolled bar. This means that the thinner, forged fork better suits the task.

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    Click to enlarge image
    Of the total cost of a fork, line production method stands for approx.20% except the brackets. But for hammer forged forks the labor cost is approx.40% of the total cost.

  • Heat treatment, this makes the fork to get the final characteristics. Heat treatment makes the fork very hard on the surface in conjunction with a soft core. The more sophisticated and controlled heat treatment, the better will the result be.
    But like with cooking, if the raw material is not good quality, i.e. cheap steel alloy, the heat treatment can't perform magic. It does what the steel alloy allows. In other words, if the steel material is poor with a decent or a poor heat treatment, the fork is worthless but probably very cheap.


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    Click to enlarge image
  • Delivery is as important as the value of the forklift. The downtime of a single heavy forklift is very costly so spares are needed very quickly. But bear in mind that there are very few suppliers able to keep stock of all possible fork variants. The fork has to be produced to customer order.

    For small fork lifts there is almost always a second option of renting another forklift or there are more forklifts in the area which cover the downtime.
    Therefore, the delivery time is far more important for heavier forks. Priority in production is costly but worthwhile to pay extra in order to get the large forks delivered in shortest possible time.

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    Click to enlarge image
  • Support and warranty handling. As everyone well knows breakdowns are unplanned and demand a supplier who understands the problem, and can take quick and decisive actions to sort the issue. In other words, take the responsibility for the product.
    The manufacturers of forks have different organizations. Moreover, they calculate the price of the fork differently. That is why the support varies between the organizations. Low price means often low margin for the manufacturer and nothing is left for unexpected claims. It's not hard to guess how such manufacturers afford the support.

In conclusion, when buying a fork, you always get what you pay for. You have only to decide how safely you would like to handle your goods and your employee. At the end of the day, you as a company owner are in charge for work safety and productivity.

Feel free to send us a message for further information.
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