Warehouses are not the only the places where one can find pallet jacks. You can find it being used extensively in airports, sea ports, staging areas and other places where large scale heavy material handling is necessary. For efficient, easy and faster moving of heavy loads with minimum manpower this material handling equipment, also known as pallet truck, is an inevitable choice.
As compared to the hand truck, hand pallet jacks can handle at least 10 times load that can be moved by a single person. The load capacity of the truck has been increased considerably due to its ability to handle pallets. The area of loading is enhanced by using pallets on which the goods to be moved can be placed in a consolidated manner. This allows moving of multiple pieces of packages in a single trip which is the reason for its increased efficiency.
Principle of operation
The equipment consists of two forks (similar to the forks of forklift trucks) that are attached to a hydraulic unit which supports the single handle that is used to steer the equipment. Wheels are placed beneath the forks and the hydraulic unit. The pallet jack can be raised up to a certain height by using hydraulic power so that the forks rest against the bottom of pallets. Once the pallet rests securely on the forks, the handle is used to push or pull the equipment through short distances.
Types of pallet jacks
Pallet jacks are available in two varieties – the manual type and the electric pallet jack. The principle of operation is the same for both.
- Manual pallet jack – In this type, the hydraulic unit is activated by using the handle as a lever. The handle has to be operated manually and the hydraulic power is transmitted to the forks that get elevated to the extent that is desired. The pulling or pushing has to be done manually after the pallet jack has been loaded.
- Electric pallet jack – This pallet jack performs the same actions as the manual type but the power that is required to activate the hydraulic unit and to move the equipment is derived from a battery source. This is the reason this is also known as the walk behind pallet jack.
Electric pallet jack
The electric pallet jack is almost double in size of the manual type and can be designed for loads between 4500 pounds and 6000 pounds. The electrical energy generated by the battery is used to lift and drive the equipment thereby providing much relief to the operator. The operation is speedier than manual pallet jack. Switches are used to operate the hydraulic unit and also for moving the equipment. The operator has only to control the equipment and guide it.
Having a more sophisticated design, there are much more moving parts in the equipment that necessitates more maintenance. The battery has to be charged at intervals in order to keep it healthy and active. However, the electric pallet jack can only be used for moving through short distances as covering long distances can leave the operator exhausted.