Good quality and well maintained tyres are a fundamental part to any forklift operation. Tyres play a key role in safety and productivity.
Just like a car, tyres are what connect your forklift to the ground. Incorrect pressures, flat spots, cuts, tears and lack of tread will not only affect the performance of the forklift but also increase your risk of an accident. Heat also needs to be considered in high use applications where there is not sufficient cool down periods.
Operators need to pay key attention to tyres during daily pre-start checks. Checking the tyres and tread for anything unusual, checking wheel nuts to see if any are coming loose and rims for any signs of damage. Particularly in harsh applications where the terrain is rough or where forklift utilisation is high.
It’s also important to understand the key differences in tyres. Most forklifts will be fitted with either a puncture proof cushion solid tyre or an air-filled pneumatic tyre. Solid tyres have a wear indicator on them known as the 60J line. Once worn to the 60J line the tyre is only capable of 60% of its original capacity and requires replacing immediately.
An air filled pneumatic tyre requires the correct amount of pressure to be operated safely and efficiently. An underinflated tyre will be down on capacity and has potential to roll off the rim under load. Bulges in pneumatic tyres are a sign of under inflation. Be mindful when checking tread depth of a pneumatic tyre. Although from the side there may appear to be sufficient tread left, a pneumatic tyre will generally wear across the centre of the tyre.
Keep in mind forklifts do not have suspension. Once a tyre has worn over 40% the operator will absorb over 80% of the shock when driven over an uneven surface, increasing operator fatigue. The powertrain has to operate harder to turn the wheels, resulting in increased fuel consumption and premature wearing of mechanical parts, meaning additional downtime, which effects your bottom line.
Spending a little extra on a good quality tyre will increase your productivity. One study has shown an increase in productivity of 14% in a single shift when compared to a low quality tyre.