Trucks, Pumps, Lifts and Jacks – What’s in a name
Throughout the English-speaking world, it’s not uncommon to find such a basic piece of material handling equipment referred to by any number of unique names. These range from simple variations of ‘pallet truck’ such as pallet jack / lift / elevator / and pump, to widely adopted pseudonyms like jigger and lifter, as well as an almost infinite number of combinations (including pump truck or jack, hand or wheeled floor jack, fork pump, and manual forklift). While this is not an exhaustive list, by any means, it does illustrate how our cultural preferences and industry-based needs tend to help us interact with and define the world around us.
But in the end, the truth is that the equipment doesn’t care what you call it. Whether you refer to it as a jigger, pallet truck, hand jack, or even “that red metal thingy with the forks,” the basic purpose of the pallet truck remains the same: to lift and transport pallets and freight from one place to another. What you should not do, however, is think that all pallet trucks / jacks are created equal.
Over the years, pallet trucks have been modified and adapted for use in a wide variety of applications and operating conditions. In terms of size and load capacity, pallet trucks typically have a maximum rating between 500kg – 2500kg with numerous fork configurations to accommodate variations in pallet sizes and a range of load weights.
To limit the hazards associated with different surfaces, a number of different wheel types have been introduced. For uneven surfaces, dual – also known as tandem – front wheel models were introduced to assist in going over dock plates and rougher floors. On the other hand, a four-way pallet truck offers a greater degree of manoeuvrability and enables the operator to pick up a pallet from any direction. And, since pallet trucks are utilized in warehouses and docking bays, as well for applications within the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food / beverage industries, pallet jacks can also be found with specialized coatings and finishes. With galvanized and stainless steel finishes, a pallet truck can be routinely cleaned and disinfected or operated in chemically hazardous or corrosive environment.
More recently, manual pallet trucks have even been outfitted with electronic scales and LCD displays, thereby combining all the functionality of a pallet truck with the precise measurement of a calibrate freight scale.
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