Peter Sharpe is the managing director of Invicta, the largest forklift fork and attachment manufacturer in the UK.
Forklift attachments and forks are highly specialist pieces of equipment, which means it pays for you to know what to ask if you want your equipment to be fit for purpose, cost-effective and made to last, that is.
QUESTION #1: Are they product providers or problem solvers?
Now, in some circumstances, you may just need a fork extension, fork-mounted magnet or multi-use scoop fast, which is fine.
But here's the thing: this approach may be suitable in an emergency, but it won't get to the root cause of the problem you may be experiencing. And if you don't solve these types of issues, then chances are, you're going to keep encountering them, which can be costly and time-consuming.
That's where your forklift attachment manufacturer can really help you out, especially if you enlist the expertise of somebody who specialises in solving their customers' problems and isn't just a product provider.
QUESTION #2: How responsive are they?
If you're in the situation that we touched on above and need a forklift attachment or fork fast, then it's important your supplier can provide you with what you need, pronto.
Do they have an extensive range of industry-leading standard attachments in stock at any one time, ready and waiting to be dispatched? How quickly can they turn your order around? And can they do it within two to three days, or even the next day? Or will you have to wait around for two to three weeks which, in some circumstances, is too long to wait.
QUESTION #3: Do they manufacture everything in-house?
In this day and age, not all forklift attachment providers manufacture everything themselves in-house.
Again, this is fine in some instances, but we know (speaking from experience) that partnering with a manufacturer who takes care of everything themselves, from design and development to delivery, means they're far less likely to get bogged down by supply chain issues.
They're also in a much stronger position to maintain higher levels of quality control, provide you with a dedicated service from start to finish, and, depending on your requirements, take more of a flexible approach to making sure they 100% meet your needs.
QUESTION #4: How experienced are they?
Yes, this may sound like an obvious question, but it really is a crucial one.
The more experienced your forklift attachment manufacturer, the greater the chance they'll be able to provide you with the right product for the job and a solution that benefits your business on multiple levels.
It's more experienced suppliers that are better equipped to deal with more complex, bespoke projects too, not just simply provide you with standard off-the-shelf solutions. Experience counts for a lot; from the end result to the service you receive, make sure you don't overlook this area when you're doing your research.
QUESTION #5: How much do they know about your industry?
It's important to remember that not all forklift attachment manufacturers specialise in all industries.
If you want your products to be fit for purpose and 100% meet your requirements, then you need to partner with a supplier that understands your world, whether it's waste handling, construction, logistics or manufacturing.
Partnering with a specialist that has experience of your sector can pay off for all sorts of reasons, including the fact they're already aware of the main industry challenges, rules and regulations, and they can advise you on the right product or products based on their previous learnings.