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How Does A Forklift Work?

Ever wondered how exactly a forklift works and enables you to both lift and transport heavy goods? A forklift is made out of several components that when linked and powered, provide you with the needed utility in a range of industries.

Mechanisms in a Forklift

A forklift is made out of 3 general mechanisms. These are hydraulics, pulleys and a control panel. In this article, we cover how these 3 mechanisms interact together in order to enable forklifts to carry out the jobs that they were created to perform.

Hydraulic Cylinders

While all forklifts have a power source such as a battery, it still requires a way to transform all the potential energy into kinetic energy. This is possible thanks to the inclusion of hydraulic cylinders.

This cylinder comprises of a hollow tube that is enclosed at one end while being attached to a flexible lubricated piston on the other end. When air is pumped into the cylinder via an electrical air pump, the increased volume of gas in the cylinder raises the pressure within it.

Subsequently, the pressure generates an upward force against the area of the piston, causing it to move up, increase the amount of space within, thus relieve the pressure. This occurs till physical equilibrium is achieved between the volume of space allowed by the forklift’s height and the force generated from the load.

In summary, when an operator wishes to elevate the load, the forklift will pump air into the cylinders. Conversely, when lowering loads, the forklift will discharge gas from the cylinders.

Roller Chain Pulley

In general, pulleys reduce the amount of power and force needed to lift loads. In forklifts, the hydraulic pistons are attached to a pair of masts. By utilising a pair of roller chain pulleys, with a fulcrum at the top most gear, the amount of power needed to lift loads are minimised.

The pulley setup means that when the hydraulic pistons push the masts in an upward direction, the top most gear is pressed against the roller chains. This enables the pulley to operate with the gears in full rotation, leading to the twin forks being lifted or lowered.


As you may have guessed, forklifts require two sets of control panels in order to operate. The first being steering controls that allow the operator to maneuverer the forklift around the vicinity. The other being lifting controls that control both height and tilt of the twin forks.

The Importance of Knowing the Different Mechanisms

It is important that forklift Singapore operators are aware of the different mechanisms in a forklift. This will allow them to make good purchase decisions when determining whether the capabilities of each mechanism is sufficient for their job requirements.

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