Warehouse Racking

A Guide to Warehouse Pallet Racking

Hitec Retrospective Christmas Jumper Day

The Hitec Retrospective; A Look Back At 2018

2018 went by quickly didn’t it?

As this year draws to a close and 2019 comes ever closer with the sparkle of fairy lights and the rustle of tinsel; Hitec Lift Trucks have decided to take a look back at what’s been an exciting, challenging time for our business.

2018 saw major change for Hitec; in June we were acquired by materials handling giant Briggs Equipment Ltd, which not only afforded us excellent support and resources, but phenomenal opportunity to expand and grow.

Briggs Equipment Acquire Hitec Lift Trucks

Through Briggs, we became a Hyster dealership, welcoming new equipment into our already broad fleet and able to provide our customers with an even bigger, better range of materials handling machinery.

Hitec Lift Trucks Hyster Dealership

We’ve also had the chance to expand the amount of training services that we can offer, which will allows fantastic opportunity for our customers to grow their knowledge and experience whilst gaining certification; for a full list of what training is now available with Hitec, please click here.

Our customer base has grown in number and we’d like to thank every single business and individual we’ve spoken to, visited, exchanged emails with and gained contracts with, but also those who have given us their time and loyalty over the years. Give yourselves a pat on the back, we couldn’t do what we do without you!

With our acquisition, Hitec have taken the opportunity to rebrand, now supporting a fetching red, white and black colour scheme, our vans and lorries can now be seen sporting our new colours – allowing us to be recognised wherever we go.

Hitec Lift Trucks Rebrand

To help us continue to grow and thrive in the new year, we’ve taken on lots of new faces, including staff at front of house, the expansion of our sales team, a new in house marketing department and new faces amongst our engineers – we’re sure you’ll get the chance to meet them all in 2019!

Hitec have continued our support of the East Midlands Rugby Football Union under 18s team, as well as sponsorship of the Rushden Diamonds Youth team – see if you can spot us on their kit! We’ve also been very proud to continue our work with the Rotary Club, supplying a free forklift whenever they require it for their work with Refugee Relief.

On the 13th of December we hosted a Christmas Jumper Day and bake sale in aid of Save the Children – far too much cake was eaten and we’re delighted to have raised money for such a brilliant cause.

We can’t promise that we won’t eat too many mince pies this Christmas; but we can promise that you can expect the same level of service and commitment from us in 2019.

Merry Christmas everyone, and a very happy new year to you!

We’ll hope to see you in 2019.

The Hitec Lift Trucks team

Christmas forklift

Want To Transform Your Operations This Christmas? Consider A Forklift

For growing businesses, Christmas counts. Not only can a vast majority of their trade come in the lead up to the festivities, but it’s a chance to prove themselves to customers. For those who operate out of a small warehouse, hiring on additional picks and packers becomes a must. But have you considered also hiring a forklift?

Not only could it help speed up your operations, but it could mean greater utilisation of your facility and better productivity too. Not sure? Let’s take a look at the ways hiring a forklift over Christmas could benefit you.

Christmas hyster forklift

Short Term Hire

If, for 75% of the year, your business manages perfectly well without a forklift truck, it doesn’t make sense to purchase one. Nor would it make sense to hire one for the long term. However for the few months you do need it, having a forklift could make the difference.

Short term hire would ensure that you have the equipment when it benefits you and when it’s no longer needed it doesn’t need to be kept in storage the rest of the year.

If this is something you’d like to consider, why not get in touch with our experienced team? They’ll be able to advise what type of truck would best suit your needs and facility. You can get in touch by calling 01933 228127 or emailing info@askhitec.co.uk.

Faster transport

The lead up to Christmas often sees an increase in eCommerce purchases. For pickers and packers, keeping up with demand can become stressful. Ensuring that goods are out on time could also result in injuries as staff strain themselves to carry heavier loads on pallet trucks and to move as quickly as possible.

A forklift could not only lift weighty goods, it can also move significantly faster than a staff member on foot. When goods come in, it can be used to unload lorries at a quicker pace, alternatively, it could help load them faster too.

Storage Efficiency

Are you currently unable to make the most out of your storage facility, as everything needs to be within reach for your pickers? A forklift could solve this issue in a pinch. You’d be able to utilise racking, storing more goods higher than before, and able to reach them when needed.

Whilst your pickers and packers are no doubt excellent at what they do, human strength and a pallet truck often aren’t enough to make the most of a facility. You can get more stock in for Christmas, store it safely and efficiently and increase accessibility with a forklift.

If your facility is narrow and aisles are close together, you might believe that this means you’re unable to utilise a forklift. Wrong! There are multiple models available, and side loading trucks are perfect for working with tightly packed racking.

Side loader Hyster

 

Handle Greater Inventory

In the lead up to Christmas, you might be tempted to get in bigger orders of stock, or perhaps even larger, heavier goods. Doing so in the past may have been difficult, or even impossible as your staff may have struggled to move and store them.

With a forklift, you wouldn’t need to worry about the strain of introducing bigger wares. This in turn could open up opportunities for your business to grow, whilst enabling you to fulfill customer desires by having stock in when they want it, with less worry about running out.

Reduce Strain On Pickers

Last year, UK consumers spent £1.4bn on Black Friday. With that figure expected to rise even higher this year, many businesses may cope with the Christmas rush by hiring more staff. This can be an excellent way of increasing the productivity of your operations.

However, with the increased workload, the chances of your staff becoming injured or unwell (despite their numbers) can become a worrisome problem.

By having a forklift, you can help ease the strain on your staff as you can not only save their backs, legs and feet (by lifting heavy loads and also by storing them better) but it can also help speed up their activities. In turn, this can help reduce the stress of trying to meet demand.

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We’re sure that your business is prepared and ready for December, but if you need that little bit extra help, Hitec Lift Trucks can help provide you with the forklift you need. For more information and to find a truck that suits your needs, why not contact our experienced team? You can get in touch by calling 01933 228127 or by emailing info@askhitec.co.uk

Forklift Safety Thumnail

5 Tips On How To Improve Your Forklift Safety

Driving a forklift not only takes skill, it requires concentration and awareness. As any experienced forklift operator can tell you, running a forklift without the correct training could be incredibly dangerous. According to figures released by the Forklift Truck Association, 5 people suffer life changing injuries every working day, due to forklift accidents. To help keep your operators, staff and the public safe, we’ve put together some useful forklift safety suggestions.

Forklift Safety

Tip 1) Ensure Operators Receive Refresher Training

It may have been years since your operators had their original forklift training and received certification. Frequent updates to the rules and regulations surrounding the operation of heavy machinery, may mean that your operators could be out of touch.

By putting your operators through refresher courses (it’s recommended that this is done every four years) they can fill any gaps in their skill set and knowledge. It also ensures that they have forklift safety at the forefront of their minds.

If you’d like to know more about what training is available, why not get in touch with our experienced team? You can get in touch by calling 01933 228127, or by emailing info@askhitec.co.uk.

Tip 2) Make Sure Loads Are Tightly Secured

Awkward loads can be particularly troublesome. This is especially the case when your operators are trying to work quickly. However it’s vital to ensure that all loads are properly secured. This not only improves the control that your operators have, but it greatly reduces the risk of collapses, breakage of goods, damage to your facility and the harming of pedestrians.

Also, it’s important to check the condition of your pallets, if they’re poor, they could break under the weight of your load.

Tip 3)Frequent Inspections

Drivers should always perform safety checks before each shift use of all machines. Not only does this help spot any issues (which should be reported immediately and the machine should remain unused until fixed), but it can help prevent any dangerous accidents caused by the forklift malfunctioning. It can also prevent the need for expensive repairs at a later date.

Issues to act on include: smoke, unusual smells or noises, any leaks, broken or loose hoses/wires and problems with tyres.

Tip 4) Visibility Is Key

Not only is it important that your forklift operators can see what they’re doing, but it’s also vital that they can be seen doing it. Forklift operator awareness is integral to the job, whether it’s negotiating through narrow aisles and racking, moving around a yard, carrying a large load through a warehouse or clearing a parking area of snow.

Overhangs, items left on the floor, doorways and pedestrian walkways are all potential hazards, especially when carrying a load which restricts vision. Driving backward can be an easier method of travelling when this is the case. Having a tidy facility can help operators avoid potential dangers, as well as having clearly marked walkways.

Ensuring that your forklifts can be seen may seem obvious, but low visibility (such as early or late hours, poor weather, or crowded areas) can not only affect your operators’ judgement, but can endanger those around them. Making sure your forklifts have strong, working lights is vital. There are also additional technologies available to improve truck visibility and safety, including one which can cast light beams to show the unsafe space around a forklift.

Forklift Safety Light

Tip 5) Maintain Forklift Safety Practice

Confident forklift operators can occasionally become complacent, whether it’s driving their machine too fast to get a job done quicker, hopping onto their forklift without completing safety checks, driving with their forks too high or lifting loads too big for their machine.

To help ensure that forklift safety practice is followed, it’s important to regularly remind operators of regulation, whether that’s through weekly safety meetings, refresher training or by enforcement with repeat offenders.

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We hope this short guide has been helpful for you. If you have any questions, or would like to know more, why not get in touch with our experienced team? They’ll be able to provide you with additional helpful advice, as well as organise any training your operators may need. You can reach us at 01933 228127, or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk.

If you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the forklift industry and the biggest news in Hitec, why not subscribe to our quarterly newsletter?

Automation

Is Forklift Automation Just Around The Corner?

Chinese auto company BYD has unveiled prototype driverless electric forklifts. This exciting prospect was developed alongside Singapore based ST Engineering. With sights set on an automated forklift which could be used in most facilities and with hopes to create additional models in the future, it begs the question: could the forklift industry soon embrace automation?

Let’s take a look at the developments that could make forklift automation a reality:

Automation

Automation Technology

The race between major car manufacturers to create a lv. 4 automated vehicle (one which is fully capable of travel without human interference) has been big news in recent years. Automation has come a long way, with many new cars including a multitude of driving aids.

Full automation maybe away off yet, however there have been major jumps. Tesla has created an autopilot system which has been tested on UK roads (all be it with a human pilot, able to interfere should there be issues) whilst other manufacturers such as BMW and Lexus have begun developing their own technologies.

With so much research and investment being put into automation, there’s no doubt that soon it will impact heavy machinery.

Artificial Intelligence

The term AI gets thrown around a lot these days and it’s become integral to many IT systems, including those found in most new phones. Much like humans do, AI learns and improves as it performs tasks repeatedly. Utilised properly it could change the manner in which many industries operate.

Forklift operations could alter drastically if AI was introduced, especially if the machines involved were fitted with automated technology. It could allow forklifts to not only operate without drivers, but also to learn from impacts, mistakes and react to potential dangers without assistance or interference.

The Digital Age

Business has changed somewhat in the past decade. Now, you can find automated picking in warehouses, entire databases can be accessed from a tablet and dangerous labour intensive work can now be carried out by machines.

In many ways, the landscape is ready for the introduction of driverless heavy machinery. Forklift operations could benefit as machines don’t tire or need to take breaks, nor do they become sick, making them a somewhat cost effective alternative to a large team of operatives. Productivity could also increase as operations could continue at night without supervision.

With these clear indications that the forklift industry is ready for this kind of innovation, it’s important to assess what could prevent automated forklifts from becoming an industry standard.

Safety

As with any new development, safety is the number one concern. Whilst there have been plenty of initial tests for automated vehicles, it’s become clear there’s still a long way to go in terms of ensuring the safety of the public. If the technology fails, especially in heavy machinery, it could be disastrous.

With human operators you have the advantage of always having some to interfere should anything go wrong. Humans too could be the main issue behind the lack of safety surrounding automated forklifts, as they’re unpredictable.

An automated fleet of automated forklifts may be able to learn the correct routes but should someone walk out in front of it at last second, would it be able to come to an abrupt stop without someone using the emergency break?

A Job Too Complex?

Operating a forklift is not easy. There’s a reason that extensive training is required before certification is awarded. Immense awareness and decision making is required for every different movement of the forklift, whether it involves removing a pallet from racking, moving throughout the facility, travelling with a load or even carrying out basic checks before use.

Whilst the technology exists to provide a forklift with decision making capabilities (see AI), machines are unable to mimic the instinct and experience that operators use on a daily basis to carry out their work.

Forklift operation

High Initial Costs

Whilst the purchase of automated vehicles could make sense for some business owners in the long run, the initial costs could be enough to put many off. Although no set figure for automated trucks has been announced, it would come as no surprise if the price is too high for many operations to justify.

Not only could this issue prevent companies from embracing automation, but could also set back the manufacturers who would be producing the vehicles. If sales aren’t as high as required to cover manufacturing costs, then it could put a premature halt to production all together.

The combination of complex technology and machinery would also mean that should any repairs or replacements be required, it could cost a business a fortune to keep their trucks working.

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We hope this insight into the future of self-driving trucks has been interesting for you. You can keep up with all the developments in the forklift industry by subscribing to our quarterly newsletter.

Hitec Forklift Hyster

How To Prepare Your Forklift Operations For Winter

Winter has finally arrived and brought with it a bout of miserable weather. But as the temperatures drop, forklift operations must continue in order for businesses to thrive, especially in the lead up to Christmas.

We’ve put together this helpful guide with suggestions on how to prepare your forklift operations for the winter months. We hope you find it useful, but if you’d like any additional advice, why not get in touch with our experienced team? You can contact us by calling 01933 228127, or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk.

Hyster Forklift Hitec

Protect your operators

Unfortunately, even the most determined operator, who continues through wind and rain, doesn’t have the ability to withstand extreme cold. Simple steps to ensure not only their comfort, but also their safety, include:

  • Winter ready outdoor gear, which is windproof, waterproof and highly visible
  • Protective gear which will preserve their most vulnerable parts (such as hands, feet, eyes, nose and ears) examples include insulated work gloves and water-resistant boots
  • Thermal layers such as fleeces, long johns, long sleeve vests and neck gaiters

Prepare your facility

To help ensure that you’re well equipped for the winter months, it’s important to have a store of necessary products, such as anti-freeze, spare bulbs and grit in case of poor weather or if supplies become hard to come by.

It’s also vital to reduce ice build-up in areas where your forklifts operate. If you have a salter attachment (see tip 5!) you can sort this easily, but in a pinch, gritting by hand is also an option.

Any exterior lights should be checked to ensure they’re working and strong enough to provide visibility in difficult conditions. If they don’t, it’s important to replace them whilst the weather is mild, so that your team doesn’t have to choose straws as to who goes up to replace them in the rain.

Remember to always keep walkways clear and well-marked. Not only does this keep pedestrians safe, but also aids driver awareness.

Additional training

Did you know, that according to the British Safety Council, 25% of workplace transport injuries are due to forklift truck accidents? Ensuring that your drivers are fully trained to cope with all conditions not only benefits the productivity of your business, but also the safety of everyone.

Frequent training sessions not only promote operator culture but also prepare them for seasonal issues, such as bad traction or visibility caused by wet, winter weather. It also provides them the knowledge and ability to spot potential dangers to themselves or the machinery.

If you’re unsure of what training could benefit your operators, why not get in touch with our experienced team, who will be more than happy to help. You can reach us on 01933 228127, or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk.

Maintenance

Although regular maintenance and thorough inspections are part and parcel for the day to day running of many forklift operations, you might be surprised that additional checks and a mid-winter tune up can go a long way in protecting your machinery from expensive damage.

The cold weather can play havoc with your forklifts, so it’s important to ensure that your drivers perform safety checks before each shift use and report any problems straight away. Common issues that often arise include:

  • Loss of tyre pressure and reduced tyre tread
  • The jamming of engines and/or hydraulics
  • Batteries losing charge at an accelerated rate

It’s also vital that lights are kept in a clean condition, otherwise visibility may be reduced and that coolant and antifreeze levels are maintained (specialised winterised fluids can help aid performance).

Forklift attachments for snow and ice

A snowed in yard is not only unsafe, but inaccessible, severely impeding the productivity of your forklift operations. There are several different pieces of equipment that once attached to your forklift, can help deal with snow and ice control.

These include:

  • Ploughs allow you to push and remove snow
  • Scoops allow you to pick up and pile snow in a safe place so that it’s out of the way
  • Salters help improve traction for machinery and pedestrians

If you’re unsure about what forklift attachments would work best for you, there are a large variety of options available of different sizes and capabilities. Our experienced team would be more than happy to help provide advice on whatever attachment you’re considering. We can be reached by email at info@askhitec.co.uk and by phone on 01933 228127.

Forklift Hyster Hitec

What’s The Best Forklift For My Project?

When it comes to choosing a new forklift, you are not short of options. There are reach trucks, side-lifts, counterbalanced forklifts – and that’s before we get to the power options available which include diesel, electric, gas and even hybrid.

So how do you choose the best option for your needs? With every application and project having different requirements, this can be a challenging task. So in this guide, we are going to walk you through the different forklift options available and what kind of jobs they are most suitable for.

By the end of this guide, you should have a good idea what configuration of truck you need and which power option is the most suitable.

Forklift Hyster Hitec

Counterbalance forklift

The counterbalance forklift truck is the most popular type of forklift and is the machine most people think of when they think of forklifts. Counterbalanced trucks get their name from the large weight hanging over the rear wheels which helps to offset the weight being lifted at the front.

Configuration wise, counterbalanced trucks have dual forks which are attached directly to the mast, allowing the truck to be driven up to the load before lifting. This removes the need for a reach facility and allows for straightforward operation.

The standard configuration is four wheels, with the steering wheels at the back. However, three wheel versions are also available which provide more manoeuvrability in tight spaces, albeit at the expense of lifting capacity.

Counterbalanced trucks can be powered by diesel, electric and gas propulsion systems. Typically, diesel is used for outdoor work, gas is suitable for a combination of interior and outdoor work and electric propulsion is used for interior work.

Suitable for: A general purpose machine which is commonly used in warehouse operations where a combination of indoor and outdoor work is required.

Not suitable for: They are not suitable for sites with uneven ground. The limited steering makes them unsuitable for warehouses with tight racking. The limited reach of the forks also makes them unsuitable for high bay warehousing.

Reach truck

The reach truck is specifically designed for use with high bay warehouse racking. Typically, these machines have excellent manoeuvrability which allows them to navigate the tight aisles of high-density warehouses with ease.

Another advantage of the reach truck is that the forks can reach out beyond the stabilizer legs, allowing pallets to be collected from deep inside the racking. This enables much safer operation compared to conventional forklifts because the operator can remain a safe distance from the racking itself.

Reach trucks are typically powered by electric motors.

Suitable for: Most suited to indoor warehouse work in high-density warehouses with high bay racking.

Not suitable for: The low chassis height and small wheels makes them unsuitable for outdoor work or areas with uneven ground.

Side loader

The side loader is designed for working in high-capacity warehouses with narrow aisles. The forks are mounted on the side of the truck which enables them to reach into the racking to pick up pallets without having to steer the truck into position.

Indoor and outdoor versions are available to suit most applications. Multi-way versions can also be specified, allowing the wheels to rotate by 90° and enabling pallets to be removed in any direction. This can greatly enhance productivity in high-capacity warehouses.

Suitable for: Side loaders are popular in the timber industry due to their ability to lift long and heavy loads down narrow aisles. They are also suitable for lifting pipe and tubing in the oil and gas industry.

Not suitable for: The low ground clearance of these machines makes them unsuitable for work on uneven ground.

Teletruck

The teletruck or telescopic handler is a heavy lifting truck which has more in common with a small crane than a forklift. They typically consist of an extendable boom with forks attached to the end. Many manufacturers allow for other attachments to be fitted to the boom including lift tables, buckets and muck grabbers. This adaptability makes them suitable for a range of applications.

Typically used for outdoor work, they are fitted with diesel power units and come with a range of reach heights and power outputs. This allows the operator to choose a machine that is tailored to the application at hand.

Suitable for: The adaptability of teletrucks makes them suitable for both construction and agricultural applications. In fact, they have superceded specialist rough terrain forklifts in both industries due to their increased flexibility.

Not suitable for: Due to their size and lack of manoeuvrability, teletrucks are not suitable for indoor use or areas with limited space.

If you need help choosing the right forklift truck for your application, get in touch with the lifting experts at Hitec. We have been supplying and maintaining forklift trucks to all types of industries across the UK since 1986. So no matter what you need to lift or where you need to lift it, we can supply a truck that meets your requirements.