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Understanding Forklift Controls - Forklift Controls You Need to Know

by Carllaen Joshua Gonzales 14 Apr 2024 0 Comments

Operating a forklift is a skill that demands precision, caution, and a thorough understanding of the vehicle's controls. So whether you're a seasoned veteran looking for a refresher or a novice who's just getting familiar with the forklift, this guide will help you understand the basic forklift controls and how to use them effectively. Let's get started with this forklift guide!

REMINDER: Always refer to the manufacturer's manual for the specific controls of your equipment.

What are the basic controls of a forklift?

forklift controls

You'll be able to find the basic forklift controls on the control panel, which is designed to provide operators with easy command over the vehicle's operations. Although it may slightly differ depending on the make and model of the forklift, most of them will include the following controls:

1. Steering Wheel - A forklift steering wheel is pretty much the same as the one you would see in a car. It is located at the center of the operator cabin and is connected to the steering column which helps you make turns. It also features a knob that helps you maintain a good hold of the steering wheel.

forklift steering wheel

2. Directional Control Lever - This lever allows you to choose the direction of movement for the forklift, whether it's forward, backward, or in a neutral position. To operate it, simply position the lever in the desired direction of travel and utilize the accelerator pedal to propel the machine. When reversing, utilize your mirrors to ensure visibility.

3. Forklift Levers - These levers are found beside the steering wheel and are responsible for controlling the lifting mechanism of the hydraulics and forks. It usually has three levers each controlling different functions:

  • Lift Control Lever: Controls the forks up and down movements to raise and lower the load.
  • Tilt Control Lever: Controls the forward and backward movement of the mast.
  • Side-to-side Control Lever: An auxiliary lever that controls the side-to-side movement of the forks. 
forklift control levers

4. Pedals - Similar to cars, all forklift are also equipped with pedals that helps with acceleration or braking. Depending on the type of forklift, you'll be able to find the following control pedals:

  • Accelerator Pedal: Often located at the right side and is used to increase the speed of the forklift.
  • Brake Pedal: Often located at the left side and is used to slow down or bring the forklift to a complete stop.
  • Inching Pedal: This pedal can only be found on gas-powered machines. This allows operators to make very slow, small and precise movements while giving more power to the hydraulics.
forklift control pedals

5. Parking Brake Lever - This lever safely keeps the forklift in stopped and in place when it is parked. It can be located on either the left or right side of the steering wheel and it can also come in a form of a button.

6. Turn Signal Switch - This is an important forklift safety control that lights up the turn signal flashers in both front and rear to alert other operators or pedestrians if the vehicle is turning right or left.

7. Emergency Switch - This is a red button that immediately cuts off all electrical and hydraulic functions of the machine. 

Related: What Are The Different Parts of a Forklift?

What is the difference between sit down and stand up forklift controls?

Sit down and stand up forklifts are two common types of forklifts that have their own distinct operational characteristics. But the controls of these two, from the levers to the pedals, do the exact same function.

The only main difference between them is the location of the controls. Stand up forklift controls are more easily accessible to the operators in a standing position.

How do the forklift control levers work?

A forklift usually has three levers. One is for controlling the lifting and lowering movement, another is for controlling the forward and backward tilt movement, and the other one is for controlling the side-to-side movement of the forks. But some models feature a fourth lever, which controls the reach function by extending the forks out.

how to use forklift control levers

In order to understand how each of these control levers work, operators must be qualified and complete an OHSA training program. This ensures that they are fully familiar on how a forklift is operated and prevent any unwanted accidents.

Shop for a used or new forklift in Canada

If you're looking to expand your material handling solution or upgrade your equipment, then WarehouseWiz is the place to go! With our wide range of new forklifts and used forklifts, you can easily find the right equipment that will maximize productivity and safety in your operations at an affordable price. 

Contact us today for a quote and take the first step towards enhancing your material handling capabilities!

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