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FORKLIFT AMERICA'S FORKLIFT DIGEST

Skill versus Size

An earlier blog post declared that when it comes to forklift forks, size does matter. However, there’s another school of thought that believes it’s not the size of your equipment, but rather how well you use it. This particular group believes that the skill and experience of the driver can allow a forklift to perform beyond what is normally anticipated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe novice forklift driver is going to make mistakes. It’s expected, but never wanted. Whether it’s dropping a pallet of eggs or a pallet of electronics, the result is that the company product gets damaged. Sometimes, those novice mistakes are extremely costly no matter how accidental. Sometimes, those novice mistakes can lead to serious injury.

Inexperienced forklift drivers tend to overdo things. They fail to size up the job properly and rush in quicker than needed. Oftentimes, they ram the forks into the pallet when only a nudge is needed.

The veteran forklift driver knows to evaluate the job, determine what is needed, and how it’s to be done before making a move. While this sounds time consuming, the experienced forklift driver can do this in a matter of seconds, at the most—a minute. He knows different approaches and techniques, and chooses the one best suited for the job. Perhaps, it is a forceful move that plunges the forks into the pallet. Other times, the skilled driver opts for a gentle tap or a slow, gentle insertion in order to get the job done. Maneuvering top-heavy, freight-laden pallets takes a finesse that is not necessary for a lighter weight, properly stacked pallet, and that particular finesse may not be part of the skill set of a newbie.

While the newbie has gone through the necessary training, there’s no substitute for experience. Knowing whether to move quickly or slowly and how high to raise the forks can be discussed in a forklift certification class or illustrated in an operator’s manual, but neither can match the learning power of simply doing the job and doing it over and over for years.

Proper fork positioning is a skill that comes through trial and error. It’s a skill that develops over time with experience. Knowing where and how to place the forks allows for smaller equipment to do equal or better work than a larger machine run by a lesser experienced driver.

So the argument over fork skill versus size will probably continue, however it’s this blogger’s opinion that size does not always compensate for ability.

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