How to Buy a Reach Truck for your Warehouse
Looking to buy a Reach Truck? Read this first. This short article will guide you through the ins and out of buying a reach fork lift truck.
This article will take you through:
- reach truck dimensions and technical parameters
- important warehouse design considerations
Buy a Reach Fork Truck
When buying a reach lift truck you will need know a few technical items:
- top load beam height
- first load beam height
- height of pallet (and lift off) being stored on lowest storage level
- weight of pallet
- dimensions of the pallet
- tunnel heights
- dock door receiving height
- warehouse clear height
We will tell you why you need all this information below.
Lift Height Requirement for Top Load Beam Racking Height
When buying any lift truck, including a sitdown forklift, you will want to know you top load beam height. This means the highest storage height. Do not guess.
Tip: if you don’t have a tape measure that goes up to your top load beam, count the holes in your pallet racking upright frames.
You will want to order a reach truck with enough lift to reach your top load beam, plus 12″. The reason you will need this much lift off will relate to a number of items, including:
- floor conditions
- weight of load
- height of beam level
- plumbness of rack
Warehouse Floor Conditions
If the floor is not level or has dips or is uneven, the reach trucks will lean forwards or backwards slightly at the ground level but it could effect the forks at full height by a large margin. This will reduce the reach truck’s ability to pick up a pallet at the top level and will mean you need more lift off than expected.
Pallet Load Weights
A heavy load will flex the forks and mast which could cause the lift off requirement at the top level to increase.
Plumbness of Pallet Racking
When pallet rack is installed, the installers will usually check for plumbness (rack being installed without leaning and standing straight). Racking that is not plumb will cause the reach truck to need more lift off.
Top Load Beam Height
The higher the top load beam, the more lift off you will require. Where as 6″ to 8″ might work at lower elevation, size your reach fork truck to have a greater lift off of 12″+ at great heights due the contributing factors listed above.
First Load Beam Height in Pallet Racking
If the first load beam is close to the floor (i.e. the first pallet is sitting on a beam instead of on the floor), you will want to check the clearance of the middle of the beam to the floor (beams bend and you want to check the middle of the beam for the clearance). The height of the base legs of a reach truck is roughly 5″-6″ inches. If you want the base legs to pass under the first beam, check that there is enough clearance.
If the beam is high enough to allow a pallet to be stored under it on the floor, check that the beam is not higher than the top of the chassis (operator’s compartment). You would not want an operator to back the reach truck up to a beam that can pass into the operators’ compartment and hit the operator in the back. A beam above 48″ may be able to pass into the compartment and hit an operator.
Hint: Ask your lift truck sales rep for a vertical guard post option to protect the operator from this hazard.
Lift Off Space
How much space is there between the top of the 1st pallet stored on the floor and the bottom of the first beam? Why does this matter?
If there is less than 6″ between the top of the first pallet (stored on the floor) and the bottom of the 1st beam, the reach truck will not be able to retract the pallet over the top of the base legs (outriggers).
Without enough lift off, you will need one of the following two items:
- a wider base leg opening
- a wider aisle
41″ Wide Base Leg Opening
If you have a 40″ wide pallet and a 41″+ wide base leg opening, you will be able to retract the reach mechanism and pull the pallet between the base legs. Without a wider base leg opening, you will need to raise the pallet above the 5″ base legs which means you will need a larger lift off space above the pallet stored at the ground level.
Wider Reach Truck Aisle
You other option is to increase the width of the aisle. That way the reach truck can back straight back with the reach mechanism extended and raise it above the outriggers in the aisle. But why would you want to waste the space?
Tip: leave enough head space (lift off) above the pallet stored on the floor so that you can lift the pallet under the first beam and retract the reach over top of the outriggers. Or, order the base legs wider than the width of your pallet so that you can retract the pallet between the baselegs under the first beam. This will allow you to have a smaller aisle.
Weight of the Pallet
A lot of warehouse managers will order lift trucks that have greater capacity than they need. The reason being is that sitdown forklift manufacturers have taught us to order a 5,000 lb capacity forklift to pick up a 3, 000 load because of down-rating. However, reach trucks do not have the same d-rating as other forklift lifts and therefore you should be ordering a reach truck to more closely match the weight of you load.
Most reach trucks come in the following capacities:
- 3000 lbs
- 3500 lbs
- 4000 lbs
- 4500 lbs
If you are lifting a grocery pallet, chances are your load is no greater than 1800-2200 lbs. If you are in an average height warehouse, your top load beam is likely not higher than 18 feet. With these load weights, a 3,000 lbs capacity reach truck will likely work fine as most reach truck manufacturers can lift 3,000 lbs to over 18′.
Remember, when you order a larger capacity reach truck than you need, you end up needing to pay for a lot more than just the higher reach truck price. You will need to pay for:
- a larger battery
- a larger sized charger
- a larger aisle requirement
Check with the different lift truck manufacturers for the capacities and their down rating (loss of capacity) charts.
Pallet Rack Tunnels and Door Heights
Another item you will want to check is the tunnel heights and internal door heights. 99% of reach trucks available to today are 3-stage mast trucks. That means that height of the mast will be taller than your other forklifts.
Different manufacturers call the lowered height of the mast by different names. But here are a few terms you will run across:
- Down height
- OACH (over all collapsed height of mast)
- Lowered height of mast
It is important that you check the overall collapsed height of the mast (OACH) to be sure it is not too tall to pass through internal doorways and tunnels in the pallet racking.
Another important consideration is the height of the external receiving door height for when you take delivery of the reach truck. If you door is shorter than the height of your reach truck mast, you will need to lay the lift truck down and use specialized equipment to stand it up inside the building. This could add $1,000 to the price of each reach truck you buy just for the lay down and stand up costs.
Warehouse Clear Height
Check carefully what the clear height of the warehouse you are buying a reach truck for. The load back rest is at least another 36″ higher than the fork elevation. Check that when you order your reach truck, that the load back rest does have the ability to hit sprinkler heads or pipes on the ceiling.
Hint: Ask you reach truck manufacturer for mechanical mast stops or lift limit with bypass options to prevent the reach truck from damaging low hanging obsructions on the ceiling of your warehouse.