Forklift Trucks & Their Rise

The Rise Of The Forklift

This machine did not arrive overnight as a result of an inventors “eureka” moment, but as a steady development over almost a century.

The fore-runner of today’s complex hydraulic forklift is generally recognised as the electric baggage waggon, a flat-bed trolley widely used on railway platforms which had no hoisting ability, but could carry small loads from A to B.

This was in the early days of the twentieth century, and the use of the electric motor in transportation was an interesting innovation and hybrids appeared in many manufacturers production lines.

The introduction of steel ahead of iron, and consequent welding in place of riveting allowed for greater strength and lighter weight construction for trucks and platforms.

The development of the fork lift truck remained slow, considered as a niche machine by many. In the nineteen thirties, hydraulic power was put to work in vertically lifting loads, and the introduction of an elevated mast to extend beyond the height of the truck.

The same modern hydraulic achievements went into the advanced development of cranes, tipper trucks, bulldozers and diggers, – see Hanlon CASE for latest specification construction equipment –  to name a few uses.

In the nineteen thirties standard pallets were introduced and in the course of the Second World War, the U.S. military recognising the potential of the forklift, invested heavily in it as a fast and efficient way to handle large loads.

Post war, modernisation of factories and, more importantly, warehousing, became based around the use of forklifts.

From hand-pumped pallet trucks to specialist reach trucks, it became easier to move almost anything, on a pallet.

Forklifts started to become customised to suit the particular end-users purpose. Shipping took to palletisation, as a precursor to the now familiar shipping container (first devised and used by the U.S. military), both utilising forklifts, very different in appearance, but both machines the same basic mechanics.

In warehousing, forklifts generally have solid tyres, and electric motors to minimise air pollution. For outdoor yard-work, with ample ventilation, diesel engines, or gas-powered, (butane or propane) are normally used.

The growth of rough terrain forklifts has seen the largest integration of heavy types of machinery and the forklift.

In agriculture and construction, the lines between digger and forklift, or tractor and forklift are merging. On large construction sites today, pneumatic tyred forklifts vie with backhoe diggers in site versatility, with reach and rough ground capability to be an indispensable part of the construction facility.