forklift attachment issues

3 Reasons Your Forklift Attachments Aren’t As Productive As You Expected


Your forklift’s attachments are supposed to make your life easier. They’re meant to increase your productivity and efficiency, not overheat and cause leaky hydraulics or excessively consume fuel or energy. How can you ensure that you’ll get the most out of your attachments and better understand what causes them to be such a pain when something goes wrong?

Often incompatibility between your forklift and the attachment is related to hydraulic flow and hydraulic pressure issues. Even your application can be a troublemaker when it comes to forklift attachments. We’ll uncover how hydraulic flow, hydraulic pressure and your application can affect your attachments and how to resolve those productivity drains.


1. Hydraulic Flow

Most issues with your forklift attachment are associated with hydraulic flow. What is hydraulic flow you ask? We’ll break it down for you: hydraulic flow is the amount of oil traveling through the hydraulic system. It’s measured in gallons per minute.

So how can hydraulic flow affect your attachments? Two ways. Either your forklift has improper hydraulic plumbing or your forklift provides more flow than your attachment was designed to accept. Let’s start with improper plumbing.


How Improper Plumbing Causes Hydraulic Flow Issues

Whether it’s undersized hydraulic hosing or less than ideal hydraulic fitting configurations, your forklift has hydraulic flow issues. These problems contribute to the increase of internal resistance or pressure drop within the hydraulic system. The greater the pressure drop, the more inefficient your system becomes.

If improper plumbing is your problem you’ll probably be experiencing:

  • Increased fuel and power consumption
  • Lower productivity
  • Overheating
  • Hydraulic leaks
  • Slow attachment speed
  • Increased wear and tear on engines, motors and hydraulic pumps

To reduce inefficiency and regulate flow, simply install (or have your local dealer install) a flow control accessory.

Hydraulic Flow Control Valve

What if your forklift’s hydraulic plumbing is top notch but your attachment wasn’t designed to accept that much flow?


Your Forklift Provides More Flow Than The Attachment Was Designed To Accept

When your forklift provides more flow than the attachment was designed to accept, pressure drop increases which makes your hydraulic system less efficient. To determine if this is the cause of your forklift attachment issues, you first must find out what your forklift can deliver and what your attachment requires in terms of hydraulic flow.

Finding Forklift Hydraulic Output and Attachment Requirements

  • Your attachment’s hydraulic requirements (in terms of flow and pressure) are always provided by the manufacturer. If you’re using a Cascade attachment these requirements can be found in the product brochures and on their website.
  • Information on what your forklift can deliver is usually found in the forklift’s product literature, as provided by the manufacturer. You can also determine your forklift’s capabilities by using a flow and pressure meter. If you don’t have a flow and pressure meter in your facility, your local dealer often has access to them.

Unmatched flow from the forklift to the attachment causes your forklift to exert more energy than is necessary to deliver hydraulic flow to the attachment which in turn generates other issues such as:

  • Increased fuel and power consumption
  • Lower productivity
  • Overheating
  • Hydraulic leaks
  • Slow attachment speed
  • Increased wear and tear on engines, motors and hydraulic pumps

Like the solution to hydraulic plumbing issues, the answer to unmatched hydraulic flow is often flow control accessory which will regulate flow to match your attachment’s needs.

Hydraulic flow isn’t the only troublemaker that could be decreasing your attachment’s productivity, hydraulic pressure can cause problems too.


2. Hydraulic Pressure

In contrast to hydraulic flow, hydraulic pressure is the force of the oil as it travels through the hydraulic system. It’s measured in PSI (pounds per square inch).

Similar to unmatched hydraulic flow, your attachment’s needs may not match the hydraulic pressure that your forklift is currently providing which makes it incompatible with your attachment.

Most forklifts are designed with built-in, adjustable pressure relief valves which can be tuned to match your attachment’s pressure needs without additional hydraulic accessories. In many newer forklift models the pressure relief valves can be manipulated through the display in the cab. However if your forklift is not equipped with adjustable pressure relief valves, you may have to utilize a pressure regulation accessory.

If your attachment problems aren’t caused by hydraulic flow or hydraulic pressure, they may be related to your application, which brings us to our last cause.


3. Application Demands

If you’re in a high-cycle application and frequent movement is required of your lift truck’s attachment, you may need flow control accessories to prevent shorter attachment life and increased maintenance costs due to overheating.

Paper roll clamps and rotators are often involved these high-cycle applications that require a lot of movement. These attachments can benefit from flow control accessories as the forklifts associated with high-cycle applications commonly provide high hydraulic flow. Additionally, attachments like paper roll clamps may benefit by using flow control accessories to adjust how much pressure they apply to the rolls.

Other attachments like sideshifters and fork positioners usually work in environments that require short, infrequent movements. Typically these attachments won’t need flow control accessories.

Many of these forklift attachment issues can be avoided if the attachment and the forklift are properly integrated. To ensure you’re getting a productive, reliable and efficient attachment talk to your local forklift dealer. They’re equipped with the knowledge to optimize the value of your investment.

Photos of accessories provided by Cascade Corporation.