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A recent news report indicates forklift manufacturer Flexi Narrow Aisle has expanded its UK manufacturing facilities in order to keep up with increased demand for its articulated forklift trucks. Flexi is the UK’s largest manufacturer of articulated VNAs and arguably one of the most popular names in Europe. Their increased capacity is now 50% greater and boasts 50,000 ft.² of factory space. However, Flexi is not alone.

Manufacturers of counterbalance forklift trucks are also enjoying increased sales thanks to their growing popularity in manufacturing environments. All over the UK, forklift trucks are being put to use in factories, warehouses, logistics operations, and so on. Increased demand means there is a great opportunity for both manufacturers and any drivers interested in taking counterbalance forklift training.

The Counterbalance Forklift

While there are several different types of forklift trucks used today, the counterbalance forklift is by far the most popular. Counterbalance forklift trucks are well appreciated due to the fact that they are able to move in very tight spaces while still carrying and stacking rather heavy loads. The secret to the success of these machines is the counterbalance.

On this type of forklift, extra weight is built into the rear of the machine to make up for the weight of the load to be picked up by the forks. By using the counterbalance, manufacturers are able to give the forklift trucks greater lifting capacity without having to build a larger frame. Keeping the frame size smaller allows them to maintain the manoeuvrability and tight control that certain environments require.

Because the frame of the counterbalance forklift is so small in relation to potential load size, operating one safely does require a bit of skill. So while operators are not required to be licensed in the UK, most companies these days require training and certification for their forklift drivers. They do so to protect themselves, their workers, and the operators.

What Is Learned in Training

A typical counterbalance forklift training program teaches drivers fundamental driving techniques, proper lifting and stacking techniques, and how to operate a counterbalance forklift safely in relation to other workers, equipment and machinery, and unusual loads. There’s a lot more to it than simply putting the forklift in gear and moving forward.

The hardest part of operating a forklift safely is controlling movements to keep them fluid. In other words, the physical driving of the vehicle involves just the steering wheel, accelerator, and break, just as you’re used to with your car. But moving cargo combines driving skills with lifting, placing, and lowering. Putting all of these things together for smooth operation is critical. An operator who is not fluid risks accidents if the movements of his forklift truck are not smooth.

A good counterbalance forklift training course will instruct students by teaching them in a classroom setting and then giving them practice behind the wheel. With proper training and certification, a driver is well equipped to work in any environment.

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