Forklift mechanics are trained and skilled in operating the forklift, in maintaining the truck in good repair, and in health and safety aspects of handling various heavy or hazardous materials. Forklift Trucks are used in warehousing and manufacturing for loading and unloading materials in places that are otherwise hard to reach. Warehouses and storage facilities maximize square footage by storing supplies vertically, hence the need for forklifts.
The primary responsibility of a forklift operator is to load and unload materials from elevated places and transport them to where they are needed. As a technician, this means you might be called to repair forklifts used for moving stock in a warehouse, fetching building materials on a construction site, or moving supplies in a factory to where they are needed on the production line. There are many other applications of forklifts.
It is important for a forklift mechanic to understand the materials being transported. You will learn how to handle fragile and hazardous materials safely on a forklift and become aware of weight and capacity so that the truck is not overloaded. A forklift truck has a counterweight, typically attached to the machine in the rear. The counterweight keeps the truck stable when it is carrying a load in front. There are different types and lengths of fork carriages that determine the load it can bear, as well as the maintenance necessary to keep the forks moving smoothly. Most forks use a chain mechanism to allow it to raise and lower. A forklift typically has an open cab, but the driver is always protected by a roof that covers the seated area of the forklift to prevent damage to the driver from falling objects.
Forklifts can be battery operated (electric) or fuelled by gasoline or diesel (internal combustion), so depending on which type you are working on, there are different things to check associated with ensuring that the truck has sufficient fuel, oil, etc. Gears can be manual, automatic transmission or hydrostatic, which means the gears are operated by hydraulic power.
Like all vehicles, a forklift truck requires regular maintenance and the forklift technician is responsible for keeping his vehicle in good repair. The controls, instrumentation and battery must all be checked. The vehicle must also be inspected to ensure that it is stable. The tires and wheels should be inspected for loose nuts or wear and tear, and the operator restraints should be inspected for damage or excessive wear.
Because a forklift operates in and around places where people move around, and because of the hazards of spills and breakages, keeping the truck in good repair is an important job. It is also important to ensure that the forklift truck driver has a safe vehicle that he can rely on to keep him safe as he does his job.
Forklift Mechanic Qualifications
Qualifications for forklift truck technicians are similar to diesel mechanics. Typically a two year associate’s degree in heavy equipment mechanics from a Community College is required. Other helpful qualifications include hazmat training for dangerous materials handling and familiarity with DOT safety regulations. Experience repairing and troubleshooting other types of heavy equipment is useful and a driving license for commercial trucks is a plus.
Forklift technicians who work outside should be prepared to work in a variety of different conditions, including bad weather, on slippery or muddy surfaces, and around hazards such as people moving around.
Being qualified as a forklift mechanic is a rewarding job that requires you to be responsible and knowledgeable in forklift operation. It can expose you to a variety of different industries and manufacturing environments and offer you the flexibility to move around different industries. Flexibility and responsibility are great qualities to find in a job and can be significant contributors to job security.