Operating a forklift in a cold storage facility presents several challenges that may limit the success of operators and companies. The efficiency of forklift use becomes more challenging when the forklift is placed in an alternating temperature environment in the same operation, whether for storage or operation. To ensure the best facility design and forklift for your workplace and applications, you should consult a consultant who is familiar with your industry and your operations to help fill the gaps, improve safety and increase efficiency.
One of the most important tasks faced by cold room forklift users is the need to reduce condensation on the forklift at warm temperatures, helping to prevent freezing when re-entering cold spaces. Freezing can result in inefficient operation and downtime of the truck, resulting in a loss of throughput for cold running. Some best practices can help prevent these inefficiencies and maximize the use of forklift fleets while maintaining the return on investment of your capital equipment.
Store your cold room forklift
The storage of the forklift is the key to maintaining efficiency. Continued storage at freezing temperatures can result in component damage and battery inefficiency. The best way to store a freezer forklift when not in operation is to do it outside of the cold. But this will bring your own condensation challenges. One solution is to store the truck in a dry area just above the freezing point to ensure that condensation forms slowly or not at all.
However, this is not always possible. In this case, you need to provide enough time for the forklift to rest outside the cold facility and condense to form and evaporate at warm temperatures. Premature operation before evaporation can cause freezing. This process can be accelerated by using a fan in the storage space.
Use a cold room forklift to change the temperature application
In many applications, the refrigerated environment mixes with warmer spaces. For example, movement from the refrigerated compartment to the refrigerated truck may require passage through a warm docking area. 3PL applications may store a variety of goods, some are cold and some are environmental. These challenges present some inevitable condensation. But there are some steps that can help.
Maintaining multiple forklift trucks with specific operating areas within your operating budget can help prevent potential wear due to temperature changes. It will add the necessary contact to transfer the product between the equipment at the door of the refrigerated area, but depending on your situation, this will increase the efficiency of the operation of the truck. You need to perform a site analysis to determine if this is a useful method.
If you are maintaining multiple forklift problems, you can still take steps to prevent condensation problems. For example, facility design is key. Optimizing the route that cold room forklifts must take between cold environments and trucks to be loaded can help ensure that they remain as cold as possible. In addition, the sequence of operations becomes critical. Limiting the number of times the refrigerator compartment forklift needs to change the environment can reduce the chance of condensation.
Choose the right cold room forklift
Electric forklifts are used in cold applications, and choosing the right forklift can have a significant impact on efficiency and ROI. Forklifts with fewer moving parts and wires reduce the heat generation of the components and the possibility of condensation into the corners and gaps of the forklift. For example, Toyota electric forklifts are designed with a small number of moving parts and AC motors and controllers to reduce the heat generated by internal components. These small engineering technologies can have a lasting impact on operational efficiency.
While condensation is not the only challenge faced by refrigerator compartment forklift operators (we don’t even cover safety issues in potentially sliding environments), this is one of the most pressing issues for forklift mechanical operation in a cooling environment. For more ideas on refrigeration, check out our white paper on refrigeration in the food supply chain.