First off we should really explain what a stacker truck is? They are often referred to as stackers, fork lifts, hydraulic stackers, pedestrian stackers, pedestrian trucks, hand stackers, hand hydraulic stackers……..and the list goes on! Basically, they are small fork lift trucks.
They lift and move pallets of goods around from point to point and are generally used in warehouses, factories and goods inwards departments. Some models are often used to move un-palletised goods like machine parts, boxes, drums and cartons but then they would normally need to be fitted with a fork platform or lifting attachment to suit the load.
They cover a wide range of lifting equipment from small hand hydraulic or hand winch operated machines, through to electric pedestrian machines right up to more sophisticated ride on models.
So, what do you need to consider in order to purchase the correct type of stacker? There are many factors which will determine the type of stacker that is correct for the job, and of course, not least the amount of money that you wish to spend! Here follows a list of the most important considerations and facts that you need to establish:
- The physical size and nature of the goods to be lifted and moved; are they pallets or un-palletised goods.
- If the goods are palletised, what style of pallet(s) are being used. There is a major consideration here and we will come on to talk about this a little bit more later*.
- The weight of the heaviest item.
- The height to which you need to lift the goods.
- The height of pallet racking beams, shelf heights, loading vehicle heights or heights of other loading/unloading points.
- How often will this operation be carried out in a working day.
- Over what distance will the stacker truck need to travel and are there any gradients to negotiate.
- What type of floor is the stacker truck operating over.
- Will the stacker truck be used in adverse conditions ie: wet, corrosive, hygiene restrictive, bad weather.
- Do you feel your workers would prefer an electrically operated model or a hand operated machine.
- Are there any height and width restrictions that need to be considered ie: doorways, overhead obstructions, ceilings etc.
- If you intend to use an electric model, are there charging socket points nearby.
- Is there a budget in mind.
If after considering the above points it becomes aware that the weights are very low and the use is fairly infrequent then maybe a small hand/winch stacker will suffice. They are very cost effective, require little maintenance and are very easy to use.
As your weight capacity increases and the workflow becomes more regular you may then need to look at a light to medium duty stacker or, at the higher end of the scale, a heavy duty electric stacker.
In the second bullet point above of the list above * we touched on the style of the pallet. This is very important because if the pallet has a base board on all four sides then a conventional narrow wheel arm stacker (the arms that are in permanent contact with the ground) cannot operate with this style of pallet. Instead a straddle wheel arm model will be required, in order that the arms can fit around the outside of the pallet in question. This of course means that the overall width of the stacker truck is increased considerably.
After establishing all of the key points required it is always then best to seek the expert advice of the people that can recommend the most appropriate tool for the job. Your present day lifting task may seem minimal at its inception, but it is often prudent to invest in the future potential of that task, so careful planning is always required.