As one can say from the name a pallet truck is used for lifting and transportation of pallets. This is like the basic form of forklift. They are generally suitable for small distance transportation like within a warehouse or factory.
Just like how every industrial machine has its own weight capacity a pallet truck comes with its own weight capacity which is not recommended to exceed, if the weight of the pallets exceed the optimum weight capacity of the pallet truck it will be difficult to control and thus will affect its proper and smooth functioning.
Before discussing about the functioning of a pallet work one should keep in mind that manual pallet jacks and electric pallet jacks have slight difference in their operation.
A pallet truck has the following parts that help in its functioning: a handle with lever that allows driving and lifting, wheels (two in the fork and a central wheel or a pair of wheels), forks that are in the size to fit the pallet and hydraulic jack.
The pallet jack is steered by a lever that also act as a pumping handle. To lift the pallet up you slide the fork under the pallets and then when you pump the handle which causes the hydraulic system (which is the main system behind the working of a pallet jack) to start its function.
The front wheels which are present inside the front end of the fork are actually mounted on levers which are attached with linkages that connect it to the levers attached to the jack cylinder. When the hydraulic jack, present near the pump handle end, is raised (as a result of the pumping the handle) the links forces the front wheels down which in turn forces the forks to raise vertically above the wheels, raising the load in the fork upward until it’s not in contact with the floor anymore.
After the pallet is lifted enough to allow clear transport one can start transporting the load using a pallet truck. The central wheel is for this transporting purpose There is a small handle on this lever or handle that releases a hydraulic fluid which causes the forks to lower. This is how a basic pallet jack works.
As said earlier there are different types of pallet jack: Manual pallet jack is a hand powered jack and work just like how it is mentioned in the above paragraph,
Powered or electric pallet jack are motorized to allow lifting and transportation of a heavier load/pallets. In this type of pallet truck there is a jack handle which has a controller/lever for up, down, left and right.
Some motorized pallet jacks also have platform that allows the worker to stand along with a steering wheel and brake system. There are also specialized pallet truck designed to be used in rough terrains.
Pallet trucks are used in warehouses and construction sites for the transport of not so heavy materials along short distance. They are also used in place of forklift as forklift are more complicated than pallet jacks.
So before one purchases a pallet jack keep in mind what it will be used for and what type of pallet jack would be more convenient and buy one that makes your work easy and comfortable.
While working the pallet jack keep in mind these instructions for a safe and convenient use of pallet jack:
- Do not use it unless you have been trained, despite being a simple tool it can still be dangerous when handled without proper training.
- Never surpass the load capacity. Surpassing the load limit can be dangerous to both the pallet jack and the handler.
- Never place your feet under the pallet jack
- If the load is blocking your view take the help of a person to help you guide your way.
- Do not ride on the pallet jack, no matter how interesting and tempting it is to do so.
- While transporting, pull the pallet jack but when you are transporting across a downward incline/steep or passing close towards walls or obstacles push it instead of pulling.