Forklift manufacturers design their products for diverse warehouse scenarios by injecting two powerful attributes into their products. There’s the lifting factor, an aptitude for elevating weighty loads to lofty heights. Important though this lifting operation is, it’s not much use without movement, the ability to drive the load to its destination. The incorporation of superior long-lasting wheels takes care of this second attribute, with zippy three-wheeled configurations and independently controlled four-wheelers nursing pallets full of cargo all over the factory.
The wheels, though undoubtedly tough, are subject to crushing pressures and shearing forces. There’s the always-changing loads that stack up on the forks and the carriage. This load is raised and lowered by the lifting cylinder, but Newton’s Laws ensure the full brunt of the force is transmitted all the way down to the wheels. Simultaneously, just as the load is bearing downward, the highly-maneuverable forklift zips around narrow aisles and delivers oblique force to the turning wheels, partnering with the load factor to create a grinding action, one that has an inevitable effect on the external surface of the rims. It’s a material fatiguing situation, one that’s exacerbated by a lack of suspension on the warehouse vehicle and the likelihood of a rough concrete floor within the industrial facility. Here’s a quick reminder of five types of wheels used in this tough scenario.
Pneumatic tires are similar to their car or truck cousins. They have deep-ridged tracks and are ideal for outdoor applications, but there’s the puncture question to worry about. Solid tires eliminate this issue, but the technology also eliminates much of the cushioning that comes from and air filled pneumatics. The last two entries, the non-marking and the foam-filled tire are popular in some industries, with the foam type offering some cushioning. Non-marking wheels are popular in scenarios where floor conditioning is important, hence the wheel won’t leave black trails of rubber. Unfortunately, this carbon-free formulation reduces the lifespan of the tire.
Only the polyurethane wheel delivers truly long-lasting attributes, plus there’s a healthy amount of cushioning added to the form thanks to the pliable grades of the polymer. Even when the wheels do begin to wear, there’s the option to recondition each set by returning them to the factory for a castor rebonding cycle. This invaluable process adds years to the wheels and keeps the form affordable by allowing the operator to keep the hub section of each wheel. The factory accomplishes this by slicing off the aged remnants of the polymer and preparing the wheel for a new layer of polyurethane. The result is a permanently bonded polyurethane resin complete with traction-enhancing tracks and all other attributes as set by the forklift client.
Their maneuverability and load-bearing characteristics kill standard wheel materials, but polyurethane technology beats this wear and tear dilemma with a simple chemical bath stripping of the old and an adhesive-bonded fixing of a new polymer outer wheel coating.