Owning and/or operating a lumber yard can be a rewarding and profitable endeavour, but only if you have the right tools for the job, and the equipment you use to transport and stack your timber is particularly important. Forklift trucks are particularly well-suited to the modern lumber yard and can help you and your employees transport even the heaviest pieces of timber safely, quickly and efficiently.
However, forklifts come in many different shapes and sizes, and not every model is ideally suited to the tasks the average lumber yard requires. To help you pick out a forklift model that suits your needs, ask yourself the following questions as you shop around and compare models:
Should you choose an electric or diesel-powered forklift?
Electric forklifts have many good qualities—they are cheap to run and very environmentally friendly, and they can be used indoors without choking your employees with noxious diesel fumes. However, they tend to be somewhat limited in lifting strength compared to most diesel forklifts and must be operated close to a suitable power source so they don't run out of juice and become stranded in awkward locations. They also tend to have less torque than diesel models, making them less suitable for used on uneven or unpaved terrain.
Consequently, your choice of motor should depend on the type of lumber yard you operate. If your yard is mostly or entirely outdoors, or if it covers a large area of ground, diesel forklfits will probably be the best bet for you. Electric forklifts should be used if your lumber yard is mostly or entirely enclosed, and the typical pieces of lumber you handle aren't too large and heavy for them to handle.
What kind of tyres should your forklift use?
To save time and money, it's best to have the correct tyres fitted to your forklift at the point of purchase; this generally means choosing between standard and all-terrain tyres. All-terrain tyres are much more useful if you have an outdoor yard that is partially or completely unpaved, but if your yard is enclosed, choosing these chunky tyres can decrease your forklift's maneuverability and fuel efficiency.
Should you choose a three- or four-wheeled forklift?
While four-wheeled forklifts are still the standard model for most industries, three-wheeled models are becoming increasingly popular. They possess much tighter turning circles than most four-wheelers, and are also less expensive to purchase or hire, but the loss of a wheel naturally limits the lifting capacity and stability of your forklift.
To help you decide on the number of wheels you need, take the average dimensions of your pieces of lumber into account. If they are significantly wider or longer than an average-sized forklift, you will probably need to invest in a four-wheeled truck for their added stability. If you routinely handle smaller pieces, three-wheelers can be a great money saving option, and are particularly useful for compact yards in urban locations where their extra maneuverability can be a real boon.