When you think of forklifts operating in sub-zero temperatures in cold room environments that act as gigantic freezers, you probably think of an icy cold environment where the floor is slippery and dangerous. In rare cases this might be true but the fact of the matter is cold room floors are usually dry and any ice you see is more likely to form on the forklift rather than on the floor. When forklifts in cold room environments are driven the way they’re supposed to be, floors are minimal hazard. Much like driving in the snow and freezing rain in a car, accidents occur when drivers drive too fast or don’t pay attention. The same holds for forklifts.
So what challenges face forklift drivers in cold room environments? Ice forming on the workhorse that prevent it from functioning. Here are some things to consider if you operate a cold room forklift.
No matter what type of forklift you drive, the most important thing to consider is the temperature ranges they are exposed to, whether it’s a cold room forklift or one that’s operated in and outdoors. You’ll want to consider the environment the forklift is exposed to. It should be well defined so you select an appropriate forklift that’s been manufactured for such an environment. Will you need a forklift in -10°C temperatures? Will it be required to go in and out of the cold room or will it stay in the cold room all the time?
When it comes to cold rooms, the lowest temperature forklift manufacturers typically cater for is -22°F. Though they can operate briefly in temperatures as low as -45°F before cold room protection is needed. Because condensation can occur during a forklift’s in-out work cycle, it should always be parked outside. Condensation occurs because of higher humidity outside. This is why a forklift must be completely dry before it re-enters the cold room. This can be accomplished with the assistance of fans or by leaving it outside for a long period of time (i.e., when being charged or during routine maintenance). Both of these methods are what help to prevent ice from forming on your forklift when it enters the cold room.
A third way to prevent ice forming on your forklift is with a temperature zone. This is a zone where the temperature is around 32°F and low humidity. By locating a temperature zone directly outside your cold room, you’ll ensure there isn’t a lot of mist on the forklift during its time outside the cold room. Forklifts that rest in a room outside the cold room where the temperature is 77-86°F and high humidity will become quite wet within a few seconds of leaving the cold room. If the forklift isn’t dry when it returns to the cold room, it will be covered in ice.
If you’re still concerned about slippery floors, look for wire impregnated tires which prevent skiing as they move on a platform. Though most manufacturers and experts agree skidding isn’t a problem for forklift operators driving as they were trained.