Forklifts are an essential tool for most worksites, but getting them from point A to B can be a pretty complicated process.
Transporting a vehicle of this size comes with numerous complications, and it can even be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. You can’t drive them on the road, because the government doesn't consider them an automobile per se. So, you’ll need to use a different method. Fair warning: the process isn’t exactly easy, and you will need to allocate quite a few resources to complete it.
If this is something you're struggling with right now, here’s a complete guide on how to get your forklift to where it needs to be safely.
What to Consider
If you are moving the forklift on your own, then you must start by taking a few necessary precautions. First, make sure you have the proper insurance so that you are covered should anything go wrong.
Then, you need to have the exact weight and measurements of the forklift you want to move. They will point you towards certain trucks or accessories required to ship it. Once you’ve got all these numbers down, look at these other factors you need to consider to transport the forklift:
1. Safety First
Since it’s a huge piece of machinery, one slip up can have devastating effects. So one of your main concerns when transporting a forklift is to ensure everyone’s safety. You’ll need to know the weight and length of the forklift to figure out what truck or trailer is best suited for your transport.
Then, make sure the fork is facing the back of the vehicle transporting it, and secure the forklift to the bed of the truck. Check the fuel supply to turn it off, and secure the tank as well, so you don’t splash any fuel.
How you secure the forklift is also vital. Check the chains you’re planning on using to see if they can handle the weight of your forklift. If they don’t, then make sure to look for the right ones. Don’t try to wing it. If those chains break mid-transport, it can cause a massive accident.
2. Placing It on the Trailer
You may think this step is pretty straightforward, but the actual position of the forklift can make or break the entire process. You need to ensure that the forklift is centered on the truck or the trailer used to transport it, and the forks should be lowered to the floor and slightly tilted. Place blocks under each wheel to keep the vehicle secured while in transit.
If the forklift doesn’t sit right on the trailer or isn’t secured properly, it can tilt or even fall off the bed, regardless if you have it chained down.
3. Moving the Forklift
It’s a bit of a paradoxical situation: trying to figure out how to move something whose entire purpose is to move materials over short distances. But it is something you’ll have to think about. Consider the distance the forklift will have to travel first.
Long journeys are almost always a lot more complicated. And considering that the average forklift can weight about 9,000 pounds, you’ll need a truck with a lot of manpower to handle that.
And, you’ll most likely want to rent it, since you probably don’t have a vehicle of that capacity lying around, nor do you need to make such an investment.
What You Need to Transport a Forklift
A forklift is a massive piece of equipment, so you’ll need something equally massive (and strong) to move it.
Here are your best options:
- A flatbed trailer where you can load the forklift on the bed and tightly secure it with chains;
- An enclosed trailer that will protect the forklift from outside elements.
Using an enclosed trailer to move your forklift would be your top choice, particularly if it’s a long drive. Flatbeds are alright for short trips, but keep in mind that large forklifts can be too tall to secure them on a flatbed properly.
Moreover, with a flatbed, the equipment is completely exposed. You can use a tarp to cover it, but if it’s due for a very long trip, it can still suffer some damage along the way.
You Should Hire a Professional
In all honesty, if you try to ship the forklift by yourself, the entire process can give you a headache. The logistics alone is enough to make anyone frustrated. Not to mention that the safety precautions required for transporting such a large piece of machinery are best left in the hands of professionals.
A-1 Auto Transport says that it’s safer to look for transporting companies that specifically provide forklift transportation because they have the proper equipment to do it. It’s too risky of a job to take it into your hands, especially if you have little or no experience shipping heavy equipment.
What a Professional Can Do
So, what can a professional transportation company offer you, besides the obvious “you can just relax because other people are doing it for you” perk.
1. They Have the Right Tools
Right from the start, the main perk of working with a professional transportation company is that they have the proper equipment to get the job done.
Most companies will use flatbeds to transport forklifts. However, if your trip is long and you don’t want the equipment exposed to the elements, look for companies that have container shipping methods available. It’s safer, and you can protect the forklift from lousy weather and poor road conditions. But, try to remember: if your forklift if very large, it may take a while to find a company with the right vehicle to transport it.
2. They Have Insurance
The good ones do, anyway. Accidents can happen, and if they do, you’ll want to make sure you and your property is covered. Professional moving companies usually have insurance and will assume the liability of the goods they are transporting.
If something goes wrong on their watch, they are responsible for it. Keep in mind that there are different levels of protection. Have a look at what companies offer you before signing anything.
3. They Have the Right Skills
Then, there’s the experience, something that doesn’t come about easily. Moving companies have a highly-trained staff that brings loads of practical moving experience to the table.
And, if the company specializes in truck lift transportation, it’s even better. It means it has the right people to take care of the job from A to Z.
4. It’s Cheaper Than You May Think
If you handle the truck lift transportation on your own, you’ll have to cover all of the costs. That means manpower, driver, tools, renting a truck, and all the necessary equipment.
While most moving companies offer fixed rates, it’s possible to negotiate with them and get a better price.
What to Look for in a Company
If you’re going with a professional transportation team, and we’re hoping you are, here are some things to consider when shopping around for one.
1. Research the Market
Remember, transporting a forklift is a complicated business. While most companies say they offer the same services, they may not have the right tools you need.
Find a company that has experience in shipping forklifts and ask if they have the right vehicle for yours. Look online for reviews and recommendations, and ask the company for some referrals when you meet them in person.
2. Get Everything in Writing
Get a cost estimate for your transport to see what the final price of the shipping will be, and compare it to other companies. Remember to ask for a written cost estimate, and tell the company to include everything in it.
While this information will help you plan the transport financially, it can also protect you from pesky hidden fees that some firms slap on at the end of the trip to inflate the price.
3. Ask for Credentials
If you’re shipping out of state, then you must ensure that the company has the right credentials given by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Ask for their documentation upfront before signing anything.
4. Pay Attention to How They Treat You
Always remember that you are the client. Whether you’re opting for a national company or hiring a family business for your transport, pay close attention to how the firm is treating you before signing the contract.
Are they on time to meetings? Do they answer all your questions and return your calls? Do you feel like they pay attention to your needs? It may sound like an exaggeration, but how a company treats its clients is a very important tell of how professional they are. If you don’t like how they are behaving, it’s best to move on.
The company you hire should be completely transparent, and not try to hide anything from you. Again, the level of honesty a firm’s displaying can tell a lot about how professional they are.
Back to You
These are the basics of how to successfully transport a forklift, and what to look out for in case you’re choosing a professional team. In all honesty, we hope you’ll go for the latter since it’s safer and there’s a better chance of getting the job done with no bumps along the way.
However, if you are doing it on your own, remember one thing: always put safety first. Don’t cut corners, don’t buy cheap accessories, and don’t try to speed things along to get it over with, if all that means endangering others.