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What type of ramp do I need to load an indoor forklift?

Standard Heavy Duty Ramps are inappropriate for indoor forklifts. The ramps must be modified to accommodate the small tires and resultant weight concentration those small narrow tires create. In addition to the design of the ramps, the length of the ramps must be carefully calculated in order to determine the appropriate length due to the low ground clearance of indoor forklifts.

The cleats or cross members must be placed closer together in order to accommodate the smaller tire size so as to avoid a rough ride that would occur if the tires dropped into the spacing between the cleats and also distribute the load over more area to accommodate for the intense load the small tires create on the ramp. The narrow hard rubber tires concentrate the weight across their narrow width relative to wider pneumatic tires on outdoor forklifts and other equipment. Thus, the ramps for indoor forklifts will typically have at least one additional structural member running down the center of the ramp and/or the structural members placed closer together in order to avoid/reduce the unsupported area under the cleats to eliminate bending the cleats.

Due to the low ground clearance of indoor forklifts in the center as well as the front and back, the length of ramps required can be substantial. In fact, only at very, very, very low load heights will a single pair of ramps be adequate. For most applications, a minimum of three pairs of ramps are required. The ramps are supported by stands. This type of system is called a Modular System.

Modular Systems have several benefits. The system allows for fewer total feet of ramp for a given load height. By using multiple pairs of ramps with stands, several lower-angled cresting points are created, thus requiring fewer total feet of ramp than if a single straight ramp were used.

The shorter lengths and resultant lighter weights make assembly much easier and less subject to injuring those handling the ramps. The shorter ramps are also easier to store.

These modular systems usually have fixed-height stands that a designed for a specific location and use. The small tires (discussed above) require that a knife-cut (tapered) foot be used for a smooth transition from the ground to the ramp. This tapered foot is cut to rest flat on the ground and must remain so to avoid bending the foot tip. If the full length of the foot does not sit flat on the ground two stress points are created. First is the end of toe that will either be bent up or bent down. Second is the forward cut point that will have undue stress placed on this point.

The following information is required in order to properly design an indoor forklift ramps:

  • Indoor Forklift Make & Model
  • Weight–unit plus driver plus maximum load
  • Tires: Diameter, Width
  • Wheel Base
  • Ground Clearance (measured from the center of the front wheel to the center of the rear wheel)
  • Width of Ramp Desired
  • What are you loading into? Loading Dock, Trailer, etc.
  • Loading Height (Rise)

If you are not being asked these questions when looking for modular ramps for your indoor forklifts, keep shopping.