How have forklifts developed over the years?


The forklift as we know it today has come a long way – decades of steady iterations have improved upon a device originally intended to move things in a very basic fashion. With the world rapidly industrialising, there was very quickly a need in the nineteenth century to move very large objects in as quickly and simply as possible. It was with the invention and introduction of the concept of pulley and hoist-driven devices that allowed this free movement to become possible, and from here steady refinements gradually made movement more streamlined. At what point did the first forklift appear, though? Read on to learn more about how this cornerstone of industries around the world was created.

The very first forklifts

The first example of a machine that can be readily identified as a forklift were developed in 1917 by the Clark company, a manufacturer of axles. A need for easy movement of cumbersome materials led to the Clark company creating a machine that was referred to as the “Tructractor.” The success of the Tructractor in its role as a moving machine was noted by visitors to the factory, who had issues of their own with the transportation of heavy materials. They then started placing orders for their very own Clark Tructractor to ensure their companies could manage their resources in a better fashion. A few years after the success of this new machine, hydraulic-powered lifts were introduced into trucks to allow for the lifting of heavy loads on the move and without the usually-required manpower. The first forklift, an evident evolution of these previous concepts, was created by a company called Yale. Their machines added forks to lift objects off the ground and the elevated mast that allowed for loads to extend far higher than the height of the machine – components still very much in use by forklifts today.

Contemporary forklifts

The forklift template introduced by Yale was developed further by other companies upon the introduction of the standardised pallet in 1930. With a standardised object to lift, forklifts could then be manufactured to precise specifications and sold to a wider market. There was then a new issue that arose – with these machines being used constantly – and now for even heavier loads – a need for a long-service machine became apparent. This need was met with the introduction of electric forklifts, as their battery capacities that could last up to eight hours. The 1950s marked the next design revision as warehouses began to expand upwards instead of out. With the need to reach even greater heights, forklifts soon were built to lift their loads higher than ever before. Then, in the 1980s, forklift were again carefully examined to ensure that the machines could adequately balance their loads without tipping over. Now when you see a forklift for sale, you’ll be able to appreciate all of the steady advancements that were necessary in order to create this magnificent machine!

Forklifts: a warehouse’s best friend

With so many re-developments over the course of one hundred years, forklifts are now only receiving minor upgrades in-line with improvements in technology. Regardless, it’s interesting to know these machines that are so common in warehouses around the world have been seen as many iterations as they have. Now we’d be in quite a bit of trouble if we didn’t have forklifts to rely on!

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