Which is the best load moving system for you?
You need to move heavy parts and machinery from one place to another within your plant or manufacturing facility. One option, of course, is forklift trucks. But another option is transfer carts. Read on to discover which material handling system is best for you.
Forklift trucks are powered industrial trucks with a pronged device in front (a “fork”) for lifting and carrying heavy loads short distances. They are powered by either liquified petroleum gas, batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. Average forklifts move loads of up to 10 tons. Heavy-duty forklifts move loads of up to 50 tons.
Transfer carts are self-propelled modular transporters that move heavy loads at ground level. They typically run on wheels, are usually battery powered, steerable and operated by radio remote control. They frequently lift and move loads of up to 100 tons.
|Forklift Trucks||Transfer Carts|
|Lifting capacity||Average forklift: 10 tons
Heavy-duty forklift: 50 tons
|Moving capacity||Average forklift: 10 tons
Heavy-duty forklift: 50 tons
|Travel path||Unlimited maneuverability because units operate in 360 degrees||Unlimited maneuverability because units can typically be steered in 360°|
|Turning radius footprint||Extra space required because of the cantilevered load||Most transfer carts rotate 360° within their own footprint|
|Rotate in place||Truck doesn’t fit within the footprint of the load, so rotating in place requires extra room to accommodate the cantilever||Many transfer carts can rotate a load in place|
|Reach||Can reach anywhere the truck and the load can fit||Can reach anywhere the load can fit|
|Vertical Path||Excellent at reaching loads that are high up on shelves, platforms or scaffolding||Typically elevate loads off the ground by a few inches.|
|Loading||Self-loading||Self-loading with skid|
|Floor space||Require plenty of floor space for loading, maneuvering and unloading.||Operate on any floor surface in a facility that is flat, level and engineered to withstand the weight of the load being transported.|
|Cost of installation||High||Low|
|Cost of operation||Low||Low|
|Cost of training||Moderate||Low|
|Cost of maintenance||Moderate||Low|
Large, heavy loads create visibility and safety issues that require a spotter in addition to the driver
Operator walks alongside the unit and has an unobstructed view of the path ahead, beside, behind and above
|Flexibility of use||High; no first-in, first-out concerns||High; no first-in, first-out concerns|
|Transferability||High; easily, quickly and cost-effectively relocated to different locations.||High; easily, quickly and cost-effectively relocated to different locations.|
|Training||Level of training is moderate.
Operators must be trained and certified. Operation is typically straightforward
|Level of training is low. Operation is simple|
|Safety risks||Very High
Interact with many people on the floor and navigate tight areas, often with limited visibility. Loads with an unusual center of gravity, if loaded improperly, imbalance the vehicle. Forklifts result in an average of 85 fatalities and nearly 35,000 injuries annually in the U.S.
|Air quality||Forklifts that operate on liquified petroleum gas produce emissions||Battery-powered transfer carts produce zero emissions|
The bottom line
Forklift trucks may be an effective option when you must move lighter loads of up to 50 tons short distances (up to 1,000 feet) and when loads are uniform in shape and evenly balanced.
Transfer carts are the perfect choice when you must move heavier loads of up to 100 tons long distances (more than 1,000 feet), when loads are unevenly shaped or unevenly balanced, when excellent visibility while in motion is important, and when safety is paramount.