It might surprise you to learn that all forklifts are not created equal. Each forklift is built for a specific working environment, and if you don’t know how to choose a forklift that fits your needs, you may have disastrous consequences such as tire blowouts, safety hazards and overall decreased productivity. Most of the differences between forklift types and abilities come down to one thing: the type of tires. And no, it’s not as simple as choosing the right tires for your forklift. Since most forklifts are designed to fit specific tires, the real task is choosing a forklift that will fit your desired tires. If you’re feeling ill-equipped to make this important decision, we’ve got you covered. By helping you to understanding the differences between pneumatic and cushion forklift tires, we can help you to make an informed decision about your future purchases.
As we’ve already said, forklift tires are more important than one might think. In fact, if you have the right type of tires and you maintain them correctly, they’ll pay you back in the form of reduced fuel consumption, increased workplace safety, improved productivity, and much more. That’s why it’s so important to understand which tires will suit your needs and which will inhibit them, because if you make the wrong choice, it could lead to decreased safety and decreased productivity. So how can you choose a tire to fit your needs?
The first, and most important, factor in choosing the best forklift tires is understanding the different types of tires and what they can offer you. Pneumatic and cushion tires have very significant differences and cannot be used interchangeably. So what’s the difference?
Pneumatic tires are great for all of your rough-and-tumble outdoor needs. Part of what makes pneumatic tires great for the outdoors is that they’re very similar to car or truck tires; they have a strong grip that allows for increased traction on uneven surfaces. But wait, the plot thickens: there are two types of pneumatic tires, and which ones you use can make a difference in the type of terrain they can be used on.
Solid pneumatic tires are made of solid rubber, making them virtually puncture proof. This makes them great for work environments where there is a lot of debris or where you know you’ll have to brave a lot of rough terrain. These tires are designed for durability and operator comfort when working in outdoor environments, and though they might cost you a bit more up front, you’ll be paid back in the tire’s long lifespan. However, keep in mind that these tires are not well suited toward indoor applications in close quarters — they have a large turning radius that could result in safety or productivity hazards if used indoors.
Air pneumatic tires are, you guessed it, filled with air. Think of these as regular car tires that you can use on regular roads, but that you should avoid taking off-road. These tires could be punctured in a workplace where there is a lot of debris, so they are better suited to outdoor application without rough terrain.
Because air pneumatic tires are less expensive than solid pneumatic tires, some organizations try to fill them with foam to make them function the way solid pneumatic tires do. Though this might seem like an innovative solution that will make your tires more durable in the short term, it will increase the pressure on the tire casing, reducing the long-term sustainability of the tire.
Cushion tires are very durable tires that are best suited to indoor application on smooth surfaces. Cushion tires are also sometimes called press-on tires because they are made of solid rubber that is molded, or “pressed on,” to a steel band. These tires tend to be on the smoother side, making them great for operator comfort in indoor settings where there isn’t a lot of debris. These tires are cost-effective and easy to maintain in the long term, especially if you’re operating in a small space where cushion tires’ small turning radius will come in handy.
Because cushion tires contain carbon black, they tend to leave black marks on floors. For industries that wish to avoid these black marks, there is also the option for non-marking cushion tires, but keep in mind: these tires tend to have a shorter lifespan than regular cushion tires, and they are prone to cause static electricity.
Another great way to decide between cushion tires, air pneumatic tires and solid pneumatic tires is to check out your industry’s forklift standards. Specific industries are suited toward specific tire types, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the perfect matches when it comes to choosing a tire type to fit your industry.
For use in agriculture; the airports; and the brick, block and pipe industry — Because these industries all have a rough-and-tumble terrain that requires solid and durable tires, solid pneumatic tires are a perfect match to fit their industry standards.
For use in cold-environment industries — These tires are specifically useful in outdoor winter applications. Because air pneumatic tires have more flex than their solid counterparts, they tend to have more of their surface area touching the ground at once. This helps to improve traction and makes them safer to use on snow or ice, where traction is important to avoiding slipping or getting stuck.
For use in distribution, factories, warehouses and retail — Because all of these industries involve indoor use on smooth, debris free surfaces, cushion tires are the perfect match to meet these industries’ needs.
We hope that the information in this blog can give you a great jumping-off point for your forklift search. If you’re still having trouble finding a forklift type that fits your organization’s needs, contact Liftmasters. We’ve been providing first-class service to South Texas companies since 1982, and we have all of the tools and expertise to guide you in your forklift purchases. Visit our website to learn more about the services and products that we offer.