Friday, May 17, 2013

Types & Fundamentals Part 6: Power Sources

The two main power sources for powered industrial trucks are internal combustion, which uses a traditional engine that runs on liquid petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), gasoline, diesel, or other fuel, and electric, which uses an on-board battery. This section provides information on these power sources, including some of the potential hazards and possible solutions associated with their use and with refueling and battery charging/changing operations.

Other power sources that may become more widespread in the future include fuel cells and hybrid systems. Hydrogen fuel cells will have zero emissions and quiet operation plus the ability to be refueled as quickly as gasoline engines. Hybrid systems will use a combination of fuel cells and batteries.

Internal Combustion

The most widely used forklifts have an internal combustion engine powered by fuels that include gas, liquid petroleum, diesel fuel, and compressed natural gas. Forklifts with internal combustion engines can be quickly refueled but require regular maintenance checks for leaks of fuel or oil, worn parts requiring replacement, and to keep systems working properly. Newer forklifts with internal combustion engines have on-board sensors that monitor and adjust emissions and have catalytic converters that help reduce emissions.

Potential Hazards:
  • Exposure to engine exhaust containing carbon monoxide. If the engine is not properly combusting fuel, the exhaust may contain high levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Exposure to spills and leaks of fuel and oil.
Requirements and Recommended Practices:
  • Do not operate in a poorly ventilated area where fumes can concentrate.
  • Carefully wash away or completely evaporate spillage of oil or fuel.
  • As part of the pre-operation inspection, check all fluid levels, including oil, water, and hydraulic.
  • Check for leaks from the hydraulic cylinder, the battery, and the fuel system.
  • Check the exhaust color for incomplete combustion. For example, black smoke may be an indication of incomplete combustion.
  • Check and report unusual noises or excessive vibration.


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