Feature Article
- 11 Mar 2004 ( #148 ) - Vancouver, Canada
2 min read
Congratulations to Michael Riley for having the best answer to the question posed last month about proper use of the pedals on a sit down counterbalance internal combustion automatic transmission forklift.

There are other pedal arrangements, such as those used on hydrostatic transmission-powered vehicles, but we are talking about the most common configurations.

The left pedal on an IC forklift is used initially to disengage the transmission to allow use of engine power for hydraulic functions. If it is necessary to reduce any built up momentum, or if the vehicle is on a grade, the brake can be actuated by increasing foot pressure on the left pedal.

When picking or placing a load, a good operator will have one hand on the steering wheel, one hand on the hydraulic lever, one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the inching pedal.

Here is the method that should be in an operator's "bag of tricks": when very delicate movements are required, such as entering an unstable load or an easily damaged product, the correct pedal for "inching" is the brake pedal, if you have one. In the two pedal system, infinite control can be achieved by feathering the park brake. In other words, precision inching is best done with the brake pedal, not the inching pedal. When using this technique, the accelerator is not used.

Manipulating the forklift controls to do a job safely and efficiently is a skill. When correct pedal use is demonstrated on our forklift operator courses, using a container of water, there is always a collective, "Oh, I see...".

Another foot pedal that is often used incorrectly is the "dead-man brake" on a reach truck. This pedal is not for general braking, it is for parking, emergency use or for holding the truck still while lifting. Using this pedal incorrectly can lead to excessive brake wear and possibly contribute to burning out the drive motor through heat build-up. Most braking and stopping should be achieved by using the "plugging" circuitry or, more simply, the directional control.

Thanks to all participants around the world who entered last month's contest. Entrants will receive a "coveted" Hunter pen for their efforts and congratulations again to Michael Riley.

Wayne Chornohus is a forklift consultant with Hunter Industries Ltd. He brings more than 20 years' experience in the forklift and training industries to the community.
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