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  • How to choose a forklift

    What about a forklift makes it ideal for a small brewery? I would hate to buy one and find out that it is ill-equiped for some odd task I was not aware of before. What kind of specifications would be ideal for a 15-30bbl brewhouse in terms of moving kegs, bottles, fermenters, etc.


    Thanks,

    Brian

  • #2
    When I worked in a 20bbl brewery, we used 3500# capacity sit down electric fork truck. bought a new battery for a used truck. great workhorse. Stood up 20s and 40s with it. Think I'd go with 5000# capacity next time for a little extra. Definitely consider your doorway clearance, ceiling heights and mast height before buying.

    don't forget to keep water on the battery. keeps them humming for hours...
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    • #3
      We use a Toyota electric lift truck, rated 3,000 lb at minimum mast extension. We're very happy with it. We've moved, righted, and installed fermenters up to a 55 bbl short without much problem, and it moves and stacks (at 12') metric-ton supersacks with ease.

      As mentioned above, keep the batteries topped up with distilled water, and make sure the batteries are fully charged during freezing seasons. Our batteries are the originals, I think we got this truck back in '05 or '06.

      At one point, we had to send the truck in to get a drive motor replaced. We were given a propane-powered Clark for a loaner. Really scary in our crowded brewery! The Toyota's speed range makes it much safer.

      Be sure to budget for an annual maintenance contract. It may seem spendy, but compared to the cost of a new lift, or the possibility of being shut down for a week or two.

      Also, Google "pallet lift". You might find out that this will satisfy your needs. We're looking at adding one to our toolbox sometime soon.
      Last edited by TGTimm; 07-10-2014, 02:59 PM.
      Timm Turrentine

      Brewerywright,
      Terminal Gravity Brewing,
      Enterprise. Oregon.

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      • #4
        Toyota

        Originally posted by briangaylor View Post
        What about a forklift makes it ideal for a small brewery? I would hate to buy one and find out that it is ill-equiped for some odd task I was not aware of before. What kind of specifications would be ideal for a 15-30bbl brewhouse in terms of moving kegs, bottles, fermenters, etc.


        Thanks,

        Brian
        You need a very solid, Propane powered, 5000 lb. machine like this Toyota that can reach high:
        https://www.admarsupply.com/filehandler.ashx?x=3263
        The only downside to this model is its a bit wide.
        Narrower models are better for tight spaces. Toyota is a rock solid brand, my top pick based on 3 types I have run.
        Everything that was done wrong about your operational layout will become apparent when you start forking things.
        You need to be prepared to maintain said machine.

        One thing you need to realize about forklifts early on depending on your crew and how you roll is they are very destructive in the wrong hands.
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        • #5
          A lot will depend on your facility. Do you have the clearances for a full-size lift truck? Will it be used solely on concrete, or does it need to be able to operate on gravel?

          If you don't have good clearances, I'd look at something like a stand-up lift truck.

          For use on concrete, solid tires are great and last nearly forever. For off-concrete use, you'll need pneumatic tires. Changing a tire on a lift truck is no easy task.

          If you don't need to stack, a simple manual or electric pallet jack might be a better fit for you.

          I'd stick with electric. Propane is nice, but most of the propane trucks I've used just go too fast for a cramped facility. Our electric Toyota lift (7FBEU) has been great. We bought it back around 2000 and it has given us very little trouble in that time. It's only rated for 2,900 lb lift, with no mast extension, but has no problem lifting a double-stack pallet of full 1/2 bbl kegs to ten feet. We regularly use it to stack metric-ton super-sacks 12 feet off the ground on racks.

          We have a tech visit annually for maintenance, as the sheer weight of the lift puts it out of my capacity. Regular maintenance is keeping the batteries charged and topped up with distilled water. Always be sure the batteries are fully charged when checking the water, or you'll end up with a real mess on your hands. We also have a regular schedule for greasing the points we can access.

          The charger for an electric lift truck is big--you need a lift truck to move it. Ours is also 3-phase. I'm not sure if they are made in single-phase for a charger this big.

          Make sure you have room! I'm repeating this because we barely have enough room, and a forklift can do a lot of damage in a short time. The 3,000 lb counter-weight on the back of the lift does not give at all. We have dents. dings, and broken concrete to prove it.

          Make sure your employees are well trained in the use of the truck. The most common mistakes all involve going too fast. Slow and steady wins the race when running a fork lift!
          Last edited by TGTimm; 07-10-2018, 10:26 AM.
          Timm Turrentine

          Brewerywright,
          Terminal Gravity Brewing,
          Enterprise. Oregon.

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          • #6
            Get in touch with Chariots GCS. They'll point you in the right direction depending on your needs and budget.

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            • #7
              Nobody has mentioned operating radius of the truck / hoist, though overall space has been mentioned.

              When you know what space you have to work in, you may find that you can fit in say, 3 rows instead of 2.8 rows, in other words, 2 rows, depending on the operating radius, allowing for fork length etc, if you get one manufacturers lift. I had to spend ages for one brewery maximising storage capacity with different manufacturers trucks - but it was worth it, we got an extra row in, though they do have to be careful (it was their final decision - not mine).
              dick

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