Forklift brake maintenance prevents crushing
When you step on the forklift brakes of your Toyota or Hyster truck, you expect it to stop, in the blink of an eye. Otherwise, you could crash a load against a wall or, worse, crash into a co-worker. Like any other motor vehicle, forklift brakes are what stop the truck when it is in motion. There are two types of systems that are used in most forklifts today: the drum brake and the wet disc brake. Many of the major brands such as Nissan, Yale, Mitsubishi and Komatsu offer models with drums and discs.
With the drum system, you step on the brake pedal and the force is transferred through the brake fluid to the brake cylinders that push the shoes out. The shoes, in turn, press against the drums attached to the wheels causing the wheels to stop turning. Drum brakes are simple, reliable, and easy to maintain. They are less expensive to produce than disc brakes and are still preferred for smaller vehicles such as motorcycles. They are also standard equipment on most lower-capacity forklifts.
In the disc brake system, cast iron discs are connected to the axles or wheels. In a Hyundai forklift, they are connected to the output shaft of the drive motor. The brake pads mounted on the brake calipers are hydraulically forced against both sides of the discs. Friction causes the discs and the wheels to which they are attached to stop rotating. Forklift manufacturers typically install disc brakes on their heavy-duty models, often as standard equipment on trucks over 10,000 pounds. Trucks with disc brakes can stop in a shorter distance than those with drum brakes. They take longer to fade from the brakes and stay dry longer in wet weather.
Because friction is part of the process, forklift brakes are under constant tension. Therefore, it is important to inspect them frequently and put them through a regular maintenance schedule. When the drum brake doesn’t offer any resistance or squeaks, it’s time to take a closer look. For drum systems, good maintenance means making sure the liquid is refilled at all times and that there are no leaks in the lines. Worn shoes and pads need to be replaced. Drum brakes generally require service after every 1500 hours of use.
With disc brakes, maintenance requirements are significantly lower, which translates to less downtime. Disc brakes are sealed to protect them from rust and contamination, and are submerged in oil to help parts last longer. However, the brake pads and discs will wear out and will need to be replaced. Brake discs should last twice as long as brake pads. Brake discs should always be replaced in pairs to achieve balanced braking action.
So whether your truck uses drum brakes or disc brakes, regular checks and regular maintenance of the forklift brakes will make sure the truck stops and your business continues.