The 5 Most Common Types of Forklift Attachments

Forklifts are widely used in a huge range of industries to lift, move and transport heavy loads. However, they can be even more versatile when equipped with different attachments. Attachment for forklifts are designed to enhance the capabilities of forklifts and help workers perform their tasks more efficiently and safely. In this article we will explore the five most common types of forklift attachments used in warehouses, factories and construction sites.

What Are Forklift Attachments?

Forklift trucks are some of the most widely-used handling equipment in the world. Capable of lifting incredibly heavy loads, forklifts make it safe to lift, transport and store all types of goods. As shipping has become more standardised across the world, forklift trucks have come to use a two-tyne configuration that allows for easy handling of palletised loads. This is the perfect solution in most cases, but not all products and loads come on pallets. Forklift attachments are designed to allow operators to handle these non-palletised loads that would be difficult or unsafe to move using a forklift’s normal tyne configuration.

To further improve the utility of forklift attachments, most types are designed to slip on and off, with only minimal fitting required. This allows you to continue using your forklifts to handle a variety of products and minimise downtime when you need to switch to a different attachment.

1. Slippers and Extensions

Forklift slippers and extensions are the most common type of forklift attachment. These materials handling solutions are designed to slip over the existing tynes of the forklift and provide a longer reach. This allows a forklift to handle larger loads, such as oversize pallets, skip bins or unusual components. When using forklift tyne extensions it’s important to understand that the lifting capacity of the machine hasn’t been increased. The forklift is still limited to the manufacturer’s specifications and tyne extensions shouldn’t be used to lift overweight loads that could unbalance the vehicle.

2. Jib Arms

Jib arms replace the tynes typically found on a forklift, providing a small crane-like arm that can be used to lift and carry loads. Jib arms come with chain and hook attachments that allow them to carry, lift and lower hooked loads. While some jibs provide no adjustability, others are able to be raised and lowered hydraulically, just like an overhead crane. Forklift jibs are exclusively for lifting and moving loads. They should never be used to pull or swing a load, as the small footprint of a forklift makes for an unstable base.

3. Carpet Poles

Carpet poles are long, pointed poles that are purpose-built to carry rolled products. Sometimes referred to as “carpet spikes” because of the tapered end, these attachments make it easy to handle heavy, flexible loads that would pose a safety risk during manual lifting. Forklift carpet poles are often used to lift things like:

  • Carpets
  • Fabric
  • Turf
  • Paper products
  • Cable and rope drums

While carpet poles can be used for products like coiled wire and rolled sheet steel, these products are usually handled by specific attachments that are designed to withstand the heavier loads.

4. Drum Handling

Forklift drum handling devices are a broad category of attachments that allow forklift operators to lift steel and plastic drums. Drums are standardised liquid handling equipment. This means they’re found across the world in a handful of regular sizes, so it’s possible to purchase forklift attachments that can handle any common format. These attachments typically use clamping force to securely lift, move and rotate drums, preventing the unnecessary injuries onsite.

5. Cylinder Handling

Similar to drum handling attachments, cylinder handling devices can be used to lift, rotate and move the common types of gas and liquid cylinders found in warehousing applications. Gas cylinders are typically engineered to withstand high pressures. This means they’re often incredibly heavy, which presents a key risk to workers. Using a cylinder lifting attachment ensures workers are protected from risk and minimises the chances of cylinders becoming damaged during handling.

Choosing the Right Type of Forklift Attachment

Forklift attachments are versatile pieces of equipment that improve safety and efficiency onsite. However, most attachments are purpose-built for handling specific types of loads, so it’s important to choose the right products for your needs. When choosing forklift attachments you need to consider:

  • What types of products you’re lifting
  • Maximum load limits
  • Load dimensions
  • Safety requirements
  • The duration of the project
  • Additional training requirements

Forklift attachments are ultimately designed to make it easier to lift particular types of loads. Products such as carpets and barrels are difficult to handle without the right equipment, and a forklift attachment can make it simple, safe and efficient to move these types of objects.