Get The Most Out Of Your Forklift Tyres
Apart from maybe the forks themselves, the tyres on your forklift are arguably their most important feature. Think about how often your forklift starts, stops, rotates and covers ground in a day, usually burdened with a heavy load. It is subjected to a significantly larger amount of intricate manoeuvring than a standard vehicle such as your car, and the tyres take a large portion of the wear this causes. Generally, forklifts have no built in suspension and it is the tyres, in part, that provide some cushioning. This is essential for ensuring operator comfort and preventing driver fatigue, which increases individual and overall business productivity. Having suitable and well maintained tyres decreases wear and tear on the forklift itself through unnecessary vibration which means a decrease in fuel and maintenance costs, and also reduces the risk of damage to the cargo you are trying to shift. Your forklift can not perform without optimal tyres, so every effort should be made to care for and maintain them to the highest standard.
Easy Ways To Reduce Forklift Tyre Wear
The most common cause of premature tyre wear is also the easiest one to avoid – improper driving of your forklift. Bad drivers are hard on tyres, so regular education and holding your operators to a high standard of work at all times is essential. Reducing driving speeds, starting and breaking gently, cornering correctly, not locking one wheel to make a sharp turn and not undertaking doughnuts are all ways operators can reduce tyre wear. Operators should also not ask the tyres to do anything different or in excess of what they have been designed for.
Ensuring pneumatic tyres are always at a suitable inflation pressure is another easy way to allow them to operate optimally for as long as possible. If they are underinflated, the fork itself can be lowered to the point where the undersides of the mast or other assemblies are at risk of damage from contact with the floor. Incorrect pressure also results in a reduction in traction and braking power, as well as the obvious premature or irregular wear. Pressures should be checked weekly at least. It can take 24 hours for tyres to cool after completing a job and the heat will affect your reading, so checking and making adjustments after long breaks or weekends will be most effective. Making sure all valves are capped will protect the tyres from dirt entering, which is also not conductive to longevity.
The forklift should be stored somewhere cool, dark and dry as tyres can suffer wear even when not being driven. If subjected to heat, direct sunlight or left out in the weather, tyres will begin to decay. Even more damaging than water is oil, so avoid driving through or allowing your forklift to sit in this.
Particularly for conventional forklifts in a warehouse setting, you should maintain the paths they have to travel. Make sure the floor surface is always smooth and even by making timely repairs to any holes or irregularities and keep aisles clear, clean and neatly stacked to minimise the tyre puncturing hazards that need to be navigated.
Signs That You Need Tyre Replacements
Even with your best efforts to reduce wear, tyres will not last forever and eventually must be replaced. You should do this in a timely manner before excessive wear starts to negatively impact the forklift, your operator and consequently your overall business productivity. Tyre wear by nature does not occur evenly which affects the machines stability and ability to work safely.
Depending on the type of tyres your forklift has, the warning signs that a necessary change is imminent will differ. The indoor, solid types on most conventional forklifts are generally past their useful working life when 30-35% of rubber has worn away. Some will even have wear lines marked on the outside so when the rubber has worn away to touch this mark, you know they need to be changed. For pneumatic and all terrain tyres, you need to monitor the wear of their tread. This provides the traction and stability and the fork can’t operate if it’s been worn substantially. It also increases the risk of punctures and blowouts. Even more obvious signs of excessive wear would include chunking, cracks, tearing and flat spots. Flat spots are patches more bald than the rest of the tyre; they can indicate wheel misalignment or poor operator technique causing excessive wheel spin.
If you would like to speak to one of the Waverley team about forklift tyres, please visit our Contact Us page and get in touch with our Service department.