Pallet stackers typically have two power-operated prongs (forks). These forks can be raised or lowered for loading and unloading, by sliding underneath the pallet to lift it. Pallet stackers are composed of the forks, which slide underneath the pallet to lift it, and powered ones have an engine which contains the electronic, or gas-run equipment that generates power to the machine. The different kinds of pallet stackers fall under two main categories: manual and powered.
Some of the most typical trucks are counterbalance forklift trucks, these have forks which protrude from the front of the machine, with no outriggers or baselegs to support the load. These pallet stackers are capable of stacking heavy pallets, by lifting the pallets high off the ground. In general, these can lift up to five tons. The forklift is designed with a load limit for the forks, which is decreased with fork elevation and undercutting the load.
Powered pallet stackers use automatic power to lower or raise the forks of the stacker and are not as physically demanding on workers as manual pallet stackers.
They are usually operated with the function of levers and machine handles. Most powered forklifts come equipped with a steering wheel, so they can be steered almost like a car. In addition to a control to raise and lower the forks, the operator can tilt the mast to compensate for a loads tendency to angle the blades toward the ground and risk slipping off the forks. Tilt can also provide limited ability to operate on non-level ground.
Counterbalance forklifts are available in 4-wheel and 3-wheel configuration. 3-wheel counterbalance forklifts are similar to the 4-wheel counterbalance machines. Both trucks steer with the rear wheels and are driven/powered by the front wheels. 3-wheel forklifts use a steered wheel assembly in the center of the rear of the machine. 3-wheel forklifts are typically more maneuverable than 4-wheel machines and work better than 4-wheel forklifts where space is limited. Counterbalance forklifts come equipped with either electric, gas or diesel powered engines. Many have sideshifts, a mast tilt facility and often driver cabs. Counterbalance forklifts are available in either sit down or stand up operator compartments. It is important to be very careful when picking out a pallet stacker for use. A few things to note beforehand would be the maximum weight to be lifted, the fork width desired (which may vary depending on the intended use), and the lift height.
Manual pallet stackers are hand-powered and work hydraulically to ease the process of lifting heavy pallets. These pallet stackers are usually operated by pushing and pulling the jack to a specific position. They are called walk-behind pallet stackers as a result. Usually, a foot pedal raises the stacker forks and pushing another lever lowers them. Manual pallet stackers can usually handle weights of up to one ton, but the weights can vary depending on the design of the stacker.
It is important to be very careful when picking out a pallet stacker for use. A few things to note beforehand would be the maximum weight to be lifted, the fork width desired (may vary depending on the intended use), and the lift height. The lift height can determine how many pallets can be stacked at a time. Some other pallet stackers may have an adjustable fork, which allows for the fork of the stacker to fit beneath pallets of different shapes or sizes. This is an advantage because it terminates the need to purchase different pallet stackers.
A critical characteristic of the pallet stacker is its instability. The pallet stacker must be considered a unit which has a continually varying center of gravity with every movement of the load. A forklift must never negotiate a turn at speed, with a raised load, where centrifugal and gravitational forces may combine to cause a disastrous tip-over accident.
Pallet stackers are a critical element of warehouses and distribution centers. It is imperative these machines are designed to accommodate their efficient and safe movement. Most pallet stackers are built using heavy-duty materials to withstand extreme weights and heavy daily use. Some are designed to operate on uneven surfaces and on ramps, but not all. Selecting the right pallet stacker to suit the specific job needed is critical.