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Essential considerations for proper forklift tire selection

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Today, your warehouse is such a busy place. With the demands you’re facing, you’re literally burning the tires off your forklifts. And, in a 24/7 operation, the last thing you need is extended machine downtime. It’s time to act, but what to do?

Most equipment owners, including those who operate and manage forklift fleets, are inclined to simply reorder the tire make and model that originally came on the machine from the OEM or the dealer. Under normal circumstances, that seems to make a certain degree of sense. Hey, if the OEM or dealer, with their experience, decided a particular tire is right for your equipment, then so it must be. Since they design, make and sell that particular machine, they should know what’s best for it and be able to provide you, the end-user, with the right equipment for your application!

But, increasingly, material handling is occurring in what is no longer considered normal circumstances. As such, forklifts demand a much more intricate and nuanced approach to tire selection.

A changing landscape for forklift users

What has changed dramatically in recent years is the frequency that forklifts are being called upon and the intensity of conditions in which they are being operated.

As the space in warehouses, distribution facilities, manufacturing plants and big-box stores becomes even more of a premium, these forklift owners are having to do more with less space than they ever have before. In response to these demands, the lift-and-carry machines they use are being streamlined by OEMs to maximize the limited space available to operate in, through and around.

Today’s forklifts are less bulky and less boxy. However, they still have to do the same work as before, if not more, in their modern, more streamlined configurations. Correspondingly, the demands on the tires to meet the heavy lifting demands have increased.

Understanding usage intensity

When choosing tires for their forklifts, fleet managers and operators need to determine how their machines are going to be used. Over and above environment, “usage intensity” is the most important variable.

Application intensity reflects the amount of heat stress inflicted on the tires by the forklift’s duty cycles. The greater the travel time, the distance covered and the load carried, the more intense the tire’s heat buildup will be. At the same time, the required cooldown time will be reduced.

When overburdened, the rubber will liquify, and expand to the point where the tire’s sidewalls will fail and the press-on tire will separate forcibly from the forklift. At that point, the machine is down.

The best way to prevent the thermal failure of tires is to ensure the correct tire is matched to forklift and, more specifically, to the application in which the forklift will be used. As the world’s largest manufacturer of press-on tires designed to handle a forklift’s high loads with stability, we have developed an online tool to remove the guesswork.

Application determines tire selection

The Usage Intensity Calculator quantifies different levels of forklift application intensities by factoring in basic usage parameters such as lift capacity, working conditions, idling time, travel and lift-and-carry time.

Using this information, the calculator produces a score and, when that score is matched with engineering-derived product data, an actual specific tire recommendation is provided to the end-user. Recommendations are available for either of Solideal PON (press-on) or Solideal RES (resilient) tire product families.

Know your score, know your needs

As compared to a model recommendation based on a range of products, the concept of producing an actual usage intensity score is particularly beneficial for end-users faced with critical tire-buying decisions. For example, a customer knowing the usage intensity score is at the very top end of the medium-intensity range can consider the option of using a high-intensity tire that may, depending on any of the particular operating factors, provide a better long-term investment.

For forklift fleet managers and operators, having the lowest operating cost solution means having the right tire for the application, period.

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